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78.       Bernard Leach, English Potter, Author, Artist, Poet and Bahá'í

      Until he died in 1979, Bernard Leach for over forty years was recognized as the greatest living Western potter. When asked who he thought was the greatest potter of all he answered "Shoji Hamada." But Hamada considered that Leach was. Both were leaders of the folk-craft movement in Japan.

      The very name, Bernard Leach, assured a large and attentive audience, and he always devoted as much effort for the propagation of the Bahá'í Faith in Japan as his time would allow. He lived in England, St. Ives, Cornwall, where he had his pottery but he often visited Japan. In the later years when he was almost blind he still came to Japan to oversee exhibitions of his work.

      For all his fame and prestige, he remained a humble man, speaking from the heart about the things he loved, the Bahá'í Faith, and art.

      In the early days before he became a Bahá'í he was attracted to Buddhism, and was a close friend of the Zen master, Daisetz Suzuki, whose American wife was a Bahá'í.

      Leach had first heard of the Faith in Japan from Miss Alexander

Dr. Yanagi and Mr. Leach in the 1920s.


shortly after she arrived. Many years later he was taught more about the Faith from his friend, the well-known artist Mark Tobey, and he eventually accepted it. What attracted him to the Faith was that he thought in the Bahá'í Teachings East and West could unite.

      Leach was the author of some renowned books, "A Potter in Japan," "Beyond East and West," "Drawings, Verse and Beliefs" and others. In many of his books, the Bahá'í Faith and its meaning to him was given prominence.

      In 1953 when the Faith was still rather obscure, especially in Japan, Leach felt the urge to explain his deep religious conviction to his friends, and others who knew of him. He wrote a pamphlet, "My Religious Faith," which was printed in both English and Japanese on beautiful textured paper, in the folk-craft style. The binding of the pamphlet was attractively

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The Best
      Mr. Shoji Hamada, world-famous potter (left); Dr. Soetsu Yanagi (standing) who led the Mingei (Folkcraft) movement in Japan, Mr. Kanjiro Kawai, another prominent Japanese potter (kneeling) and Mr. Leach (right), who was sketching a cat-fish in a wooden pail. This photograph was taken in 1934.

      Dr. Yanagi was also a friend of Miss Agnes Alexander during the very early days. At that time he was striving to bring unity through art between Japan and Korea. He gave her an introduction to a newspaper editor in Korea when she went there for the first time in 1921.


hand-stitched. Always the artist, with a great love of beauty, he was as careful in the outer presentation of the pamphlet as he was in its inner contents. This pamphlet was not only used personally by Leach, but he gave the Bahá'ís of Japan permission to reproduce it. It has been a valuable teaching aid through the years.

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Bernard Leach at a Bahá'í meeting in Kyoto, 1961.

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      The famous British potter, Mr. Bernard Leach lecturing at a Bahá'í public meeting in Tokyo in the early 1960s. Dr. Hosoda, Dr. Mizuno and Dr. Earl are sitting on the stage.


79.       The Continental Board of Counsellors

      After the Guardian's passing there could be no more Hands of the Cause because, according to 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Will and Testament they could only be appointed by the Guardian. However, the Auxiliary Boards which were appointed by, and assisted the Hands of the Cause would continue to develop.

      In 1968, the Universal House of Justice created a new institution, the Continental Boards of Counsellors, which would gradually take over some of the functions of the Hands of the Cause to leave the latter more free. The Auxiliary Board members were from that time on to report to the Boards of Counsellors

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      In October 1969 the Continental Board of Counsellors for the area held their first conference in Tokyo with Hand of the Cause Mr. Furutan attending. He is sitting in the middle with Mr. Samaniego to the left and Mr. McHenry and Mr. Mumtazi to the right.


in their area.

      Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi, who had lived in Japan since 1954, was appointed in 1968 in the first contingent of counsellors. At that time the two counsellors responsible for the North East Asia area were Mr. Mumtazi and Mr. Vicente Samaniego of the Philippines.

      As the Faith has grown and the needs have changed, the areas of jurisdiction of the Continental Boards of Counsellors have also been changed and the number of counsellors increased.

      The counsellors in Japan, Mr. Mumtazi and Mr. Hideya Suzuki who was the first Japanese counsellor, appointed from 1976 to 1985, had both been members of the Auxiliary Board in Japan and before that, members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia.

      Mr. Michitoshi Zenimoto, the second Japanese counsellor, was appointed in 1985 by the Universal House of Justice. He had also been one of the earliest Auxiliary Board Members and a member of the national spiritual assembly.

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      The three members of the Continental Board of Counsellors in the area at that time (1969) are shown attending the first conference in Japan conducted by that institution. From the left, Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi of Japan, Mr. John McHenry III of Korea and Mr. Vicente Samaniego of the Philippines.


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      February 1973 at the Tokyo Bahá'í Center. The Continental Board of Counsellors sponsored a two-day symposium for pioneers and they requested Mr. Jack McCants, who was then a pioneer to Guam, to attend and act as chairman. About thirty people came. They talked about the role of the pioneer, the bounty and the responsibilities of being a pioneer and some of the problems of pioneering in a different culture. Dr. Muhajir was able to attend for one day. He can be seen standing behind the frame containing the "Greatest Name." Counsellor Mumtazi is standing second to the right of Dr. Muhajir. Mr. McCants is standing third from the left, front row.


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      This photo taken in Tokyo, 1977, shows the National Spiritual Assembly of Japan with the Continental Board of Counsellors under whose jurisdiction Japan was at the time.

      The four counsellors are Miss Elena Marsella from Hawaii (sitting second from the right), Mr. Hideya Suzuki (standing third from the right) and Judge Richard Benson from Guam, (standing far right), and Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi (standing fourth from the right).

      National spiritual assembly members are. (standing) Dr. Toshio Suzuki, Mr. Yuzo Yamaguchi, Mr. Abbas Katirai, Mr. Ataullah Moghbel and Mr. Matsuo Chiba standing between Mr. Suzuki and Judge Benson. Seated are Mrs. Barbara Sims, Miss Tomo Fushimi, Miss Nobuko Iwakura and Mr. Shigeyuki Hayashi.


80.       Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands

      For several years after World War II, the Ryukyu Islands was under United States occupation. In 1972 the islands reverted to Japan. There were American Bahá'ís attached to the U.S. forces stationed on the islands from time to time before and after reversion. Their activities were, of necessity, largely with other Americans.

      In the Nine Year Plan, 1964, opening the Ryukyu Islands was a goal given to the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia by the Universal House of Justice.

      Dr. Toshio Suzuki and his wife were living in the Nagasaki Hazira at the time. Upon hearing of this goal, Dr. Suzuki made a week-long trip by himself to Okinawa for the purpose of teaching the Faith.

      He went by boat from Kagoshima to Naha and then by bus and on foot to the villages in the north. In those days, Okinawa was a poor area but Dr. Suzuki found the people warm and friendly. He said he showed his teaching album and talked to

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      April 1971. A party at a Chinese restaurant on the occasion of Mrs. Lee becoming a Bahá'í. She is sitting at the left. Next to her is Miss Hayashi and a friend, Mrs. Suzuki. Standing are Mrs. Lawrence and Mrs. Setsuko Barcus.


about thirty people. Then he had to return to Nagasaki and could not follow up.

      In 1967 Mrs. Caroline Lawrence settled in Naha, Okinawa; the first pioneer to the Ryukyu Islands. She could not stay there without work but luckily she was hired almost immediately by Mr. Isei Kohazame to teach at his English school. As Mrs. Lawrence worked on the local economy, she could make friends among the residents. She provided continuity. Most of the early Okinawan Bahá'ís were contacts of hers.

      Mr. Kohazame had been to the United States in about 1952 and had seen the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois. Mrs. Lawrence recalled that although he didn't become a Bahá'í until several years later (1978), he was a great help in the work of spreading the Faith. She wrote, "He not only gave me a job, he also met all visiting Bahá'ís. He arranged meetings, parties and made arrangements for Hand of the Cause Mr. Featherstone to meet with the governor of Okinawa and the mayor of Naha." Mr. Kohazame's school facilities were used for the election of the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Naha in 1971.

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      The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Naha, Okinawa, Japan, 1971. Left to right. Mr. Robert Ephriam, Mrs. Grace Lee, Mrs. Kazuko Natomi, Mrs. Caroline Lawrence, Mr. Akio Natomi, Mr. Hiroshi Yonamine, Mr. William Myers, Mr. William Clements and Mrs. Lynda Myers.


Hand of the Cause Mr. Featherstone giving Bahá'í literature to the mayor of Naha, 1972.

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      In 1972 Mr. Koreo Yuasa (right) of Hiroshima went to Okinawa with Mr. Vahdat for teaching and deepening. Mr. and Mrs. Seikou Tamashiro, shown here with their daughters, had become the first Bahá'ís of Nishihara, Okinawa, the previous year. The first Local Spiritual Assembly of Nishihara was formed that year, 1972.


      During 1970 and 1971 a number of Americans attached to the U.S. Forces became Bahá'ís but it wasn't until April 1971 that the first residents of Okinawa accepted the Faith; Mrs. Grace Lee, a resident of Okinawa but a citizen of Taiwan, April 8; Mr. and Mrs. Akio Natomi, April 15; Mr. Hiroshi Yonamine, April 17; Mr. and Mrs. Seikou Tamashiro, April 18. Others soon followed. A few days later, Ridvan 1971, the first two local spiritual assemblies were formed; one in Naha and the other in Chatan. The latter was composed entirely of Americans attached to the U.S. Forces. As they rotated, Chatan lost its assembly status. Naha had active Okinawa residents and could maintain its status through the years.

      Several pioneers in Japan visited the Okinawa Bahá'í community in the 1970s to help with the work. Among them were Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi in his capacity as counsellor, Counsellor Vicente Samaniego from the Philippines, Mr. Heshmat Vahdat, Mrs. Barbara Sims, Mr. Philip Marangella, Miss Toni Mantel, Mr. Jim Jamison and Mr. Charles Duncan, who later decided to move to Okinawa permanently.

      In the 1970s Japanese also arose to teach in Okinawa; Mr. Masaaki Ushibata, he had been among the first Japanese to travel

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      Hand of the Cause Mr. Collis Featherstone and his wife Madge, both on the left side, visit the friends in Naha, Okinawa, 1974. It was Mrs. Featherstone's first visit, but Mr. Featherstone's second.


abroad for the Faith (New Guinea, 1969); Miss Kazuko Hayashi (Bray), Miss Kuniko Inoue and Mr. Koreo Yuasa.

      In 1970 when Universal House of Justice member Mr. Hugh Chance heard of the work being done in Okinawa, he was moved to write an encouraging letter to the group. He reminisced that exactly twenty-five years before, he, as a young naval officer, not yet a Bahá'í, was on a ship anchored at Naha harbor riding out a typhoon. His ship also visited Yokohama.

      Mr. Collis Featherstone was the only Hand of the Cause to visit Okinawa. In May 1972 he presented the book, "The Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh" to the mayor of Naha and he also met the governor of Okinawa. Mr. Featherstone came again in 1974 and 1988 with his wife Madge.

81.       The North Pacific Oceanic Conference, Sapporo, Hokkaido, September, 1971

      At Ridvan 1969 the Universal House of Justice announced a series of eight Oceanic and Continental Conferences to be held between August 1970 and September 1971. One was designated for Japan. It was held in Sapporo, and took place less than fifteen years after the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia initiated active teaching on the large island of Hokkaido, resulting in it being opened to the Faith with resident Bahá'ís.

      Hundreds of Bahá'ís flew to the northern island. Attendance at the conference totaled six hundred and twenty-five, a vast difference from the summer of 1932 when Miss Alexander went alone by boat and train to speak of the Faith at Esperanto meetings. She wrote that it was a privilege that God had granted her, to plant seeds of the Divine Cause in that remote area.

      In their message to the conference, the Universal House of Justice paid tribute to Miss Alexander. She, the first Bahá'í in the Pacific, had passed away on January 1 of that same year in the land of her birth, Hawaii.

      The Universal House of Justice message also called attention to the "teeming millions" in nearby lands who had not as yet heard of the Most Great Dispensation, reminiscent of a similar phrase used by the Guardian in 1952 at the time of the launching of the Ten Year Spiritual Crusade. But now the Faith was


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North Pacific Oceanic Conference, Sapporo, Japan, 1971.


firmly established in this land, as evidenced by the conference. The message from the Universal House of Justice also recounted the great strides made in the advancement of the Faith in the sixteen years since the historic Asian Regional Teaching Conference in Nikko.

      The Sapporo Conference offered an unprecedented opportunity for proclamation. A special poster was printed and thousands were distributed all over the city; write-ups and interviews were put in newspapers; three radio programs on the Faith were beamed afar; two television programs were broadcast, one with Bahá'ís in native costume.

      There was a public meeting with Mr. Furutan sharing the program with Dr. Kuniyoshi Obara and Dr. Harusada Suginome. The three men, all educators, spoke to a large audience in the attractive hall. There were about one hundred and thirty declarations of Faith during the conference.

      The House of Justice wrote in their message ". . . The sweet perfume of victory is in the air..."

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      The three Hands of the Cause attending the conference in Sapporo. Left, Mr. Featherstone, Mr. Furutan who was assigned to represent the Universal House of Justice at the conference and Dr. Muhajir who is speaking. The interesting rostrum covers were made by the Bahá'ís of Ainu heritage using traditional Ainu designs.


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