Interview of Fugita-san by Sylvia Ioas during John McHenry's pilgrimage in December, 1975 at McHenry's request.
Transcription verified by Robert Stauffer by consulting original recording of interview, in 2001.
This is a "Pilgrim's note," an individual's recollection of statements and actions of the Central figures. They are subjective and not authoritative. See an overview of Pilgrim's Notes.
Interview of Sachiro Fujita
Mount Carmel, November 24th, 1965.
Sachiro Fujita was born in Yanai, Japan, April 15, 1886, and died in Haifa May 7, 1976.|
He is buried at the Bahá'í cemetery at the foot of Mt. Carmel.
The following is inscribed atop his grave (from a photo taken by Robert Stauffer in 1978):
"Thou wilt render a great service
and this will become the cause of
thy everlasting glory."
Would you like to know something about my life? I, I left Japan 1903,
and, ah, landed in San Francisco November 9th, 1903, and, ah, remained
in San Francisco about a year. Then I happened to meet Mrs. Kathryn Frankland
in Oakland. There I received Message, Bahá'í Message.
("You were how old?")
About 17. In Oakland about 5 years. I finished my, ah, high school in
California, then I went from there to Cleveland, Ohio. From there I, ah,
wish to attend, ah, University of Michigan, but, ah, 1912, `Abdu'l-Bahá
came to United States. From, uh, then I went to Chicago to meet Him. That's
when really my Bahá'í, ah, life began. I was in Cleveland, Ohio, there
was a Bahá'í, Doctor Barton-Peek. She informed me `Abdu'l-Bahá in Cleveland,
and I was away. I didn't get the message the next morning. Then, immediately,
I went Doctor Barton-Peek's office. I ask, message just received, I can
call or not. She says, "Well, too bad that `Abdu'l-Bahá just left." I says,
"Well, I'm very sorry I was away, I couldn't meet Him. When can I make
contact with `Abdu'l-Bahá?" Says, "The best thing is you can wire to Mr.
Windust in Chicago, maybe he will tell you just when to come to Chicago."
So immediately, I wired to Mr. Windust, he says he's waiting for any time
for arrival of `Abdu'l-Bahá. So, I took opportunity, I went to Chicago.
About 8 o'clock in the evening He arrive in Chicago. He was very nice.
At the front of LaSalle Station, embrace me, "My Japanese." And then, He
says, "You follow Me." He is going to, ah, Mrs. True's home. He give a
lecture. We had a wonderful time in Mrs. True's home. From there to Kenosha,
I went Kenosha, you know? There's some Bahá'í there. `Abdu'l-Bahá spend
overnight. That's where `Abdu'l-Bahá asked me to join His party to go to
I received Tablet in 1905. I had received Message 1904, but actually
Bahá'í since I received the Tablet, the first Tablet, of `Abdu'l-Bahá.
It's published in Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá.
One day `Abdu'l-Bahá asked me, "Would you like to go to California?"
I said, "certainly". Can you leave my work? I said, "yes." I went back
to Cleveland and, ah, took leave, went to California with `Abdu'l-Bahá's
On the way we made many stop. First of all St. Paul, Minneapolis, Denver,
Colorado, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Jenabi Ali-Akbar and, ah,
Doctor Farid, Ahmad Sohrab, and, ah, Mirza Mahmud, we are all together,
six in the party.
On the way to Colorado, Denver, Colorado, we stopped in the hot spring
-- Glenwood Springs. We had a very nice time! Spent one day in, ah, Hotel,
He got so tired. He says He want to go to bath. We had the hot spring
there, yeah. And He went and all of us, "Lets go to have a good walk."
Then He stay in the hot springs longer than anybody else. And when He come
out, He call me, "Give Me massage." "Give Me massage." Relaxed. Slept hours!
Then after we had rested, and then we went back to hotel.
Then, ah, by time of dinner, they didn't set, and, ah, they were set
for five. `Abdu'l-Bahá went and He said, "Why, that? We have six in the
party!" And the waiter said, "Well, he is your servant." "That doesn't
matter. Make another place. It doesn't make any difference whether servant,
or different color. We are all one. He would sit there, and Fujita come
here." It was so beautiful. And all the Persians, five of 'em, around.
And so, then the waiter was very much surprised.
He gave us permission, so we took walk around the city. And on the way
back I saw a little shop, with a great big watermelon, ripe, red. So, I,
myself, like watermelon, so I bought it and carried big watermelon like
this, and when I brought home to `Abdu'l-Bahá, sitting He watch me, "What
do you got there?" He says. I said, "I have watermelon."
"All right, come!" Immediately, He put His hand in the center of the
watermelon and started eating. "Wait, `Abdu'l-Bahá, I want to bring you
a knife and a fork!" "No, never mind." I was glad. And then we had to share
with all Bahá'ís. And then at midnight we took train, at midnight. Always
midnight. Hard times. Then we went, ah, Glenwood Springs. Stop off there
Salt Lake City! After the horticulture show. We walked down to the street.
There, the street was lined up with people, and, ah, there was gonna be
a parade of, ah, celebration. We didn't know anything about it. "Come."
Walked right in the center of the street, and on the car line, six of us,
He is ahead, like this. All the people lined up and thought, "Head of the
procession is coming down". We didn't say anything, "Where you been?",
I said "I'm going back to hotel." Hotel is way down that street. And He
came down, walk, walk, walk. And, ah, now, the parade is going on, we go
to restaurant have something to eat.
That day we went Mormon Church. Can't get in. In the morning we went.
Strange thing, they don't let us in. Then, so, instead of that, we went
horticulture exhibition. Then `Abdu'l-Bahá said "This Salt Lake City is
beautiful, but spiritually dead." But the horticulture exhibition He enjoyed.
He walked, walked, walked, and collect all the seeds He going to buy, and
give to gardener.
From Salt Lake City to San Francisco, it took us many hours to go to
Oakland. My goodness! Long ride in America. We were so tired. That's why
usually stop off and go into hotel to have a rest overnight. Hard journey,
on the train, coaches, wooden benches. Sacrifice for us every way. Even
when we stop in a hotel, nobody come to call on us. But newspaper reporters
always come and they get some new ideas of `Abdu'l-Bahá. He gave nice talk.
`Abdu'l-Bahá was so spiritually attractive, you know. You know, that
`Abdu'l-Bahá, ah, give a talk in San Francisco, Stanford, also, visited
Mrs. Hearst's newspaper. And then we remain in Mrs. Goodall's home for
a couple nights. Then, `Abdu'l-Bahá wished to get a little apartment in
San Francisco. We stay month because too many people, were always so many
people, `Abdu'l-Bahá don't want to impose upon on Mrs. Goodall's home.
That night, `Abdu'l-Bahá was very much disturbed when we reached San Francisco.
`Abdu'l-Bahá said, called Ahmad Sohrab, "You go direct back to Mrs. Goodall."
"But it's midnight, there's no boat that go back." "Never mind, you go
back." He forced him to go back. And when he got back, we were at the apartment,
waiting for him to return. He came way midnight, I mean after, ah, early
in the morning. He said, "There is no cane". Usually `Abdu'l-Bahá used to
carry a cane. He happened to left the cane on dresser, I think. `Abdu'l-Bahá
said "Where leaved it?" Then ever since He had to, ah, write "`Abdu'l-Bahá
Abbas" on, ah, any correspondence. No seal.
Then from there, back to Chicago. `Abdu'l-Bahá wished to take me with
Him. He had so many party waiting in New York, so wait until He would send
for me. Mrs. True asked `Abdu'l-Bahá, "Mr. Fujita have a home." And then
`Abdu'l-Bahá was very pleased, "that's very good," so I stayed with Mrs.
True's home seven years. So I knew all, Edna, and Dr. True. `Abdu'l-Bahá
want, He says I should study first of all electricity and horticulture,
many instruction, practical knowledge. `Abdu'l-Bahá wished me to come to
Holy Land very early. But war broke out 1914, so I remained until war is
over. `Abdu'l-Bahá sent for me, 1919, I was able to come to Holy Land.
You know, in Chicago, when `Abdu'l-Bahá dedicate the Temple, laid the
foundation stone, first garden, around the side, made a nice little garden,
circle garden. We used to go out there for picnic grounds, you know. It's
pretty, was a wild place. Now it's a wonderful Temple grounds. I like to
see it someday.
I met Mr. Ioas in Chicago, 1912. I know Mr. Ioas' father and mother
very well. They were already Bahá'í. We used to gather in, ah, western
Chicago. Mrs. True's home, different places. Mary Lesch, and Mr. Windust
and Sheffler. I used to go to Mr. Windust's printing office and help, ah,
Gertrude Buikema, help her with "Star of the West." In America, I'm very
active. Can listen, we used to have nice dinner, after the meeting. Now,
those days! It was wonderful in Chicago, 1911, 1912. 1911, I was in Cleveland,
Ohio. But in 1912 went to Chicago. Those days, you know, very few Bahá'ís.
Now there are so many! Only handful, used to be, even no Assemblies. Most
of Bahá'ís in either New York, Chicago. Now they are all over the United
States. Well, same way with Japan. There is only a handful now, they eventually,
many will become Bahá'í.
Then I, ah, had instruction `Abdu'l-Bahá, to "Fujita should come to
Holy Land in way of Atlantic." New York to, ah, Europe. Ita, ah, Naples.
I stay in, ah, Naples long, one month to get my visa. Difficult in coming
to Haifa. Because I wire to `Abdu'l-Bahá, "I'm returning," then through
`Abdu'l-Bahá, so Lord Allenby wired to consulate in Rome issue the passp,
the visa, arrived in Haifa.
Oh! He was so happy! There is many Persian believers wait, there standing,
and He was walking in the garden, up and down, you know. It was early in
the morning, when that, 9, about 9 o'clock. Usually `Abdu'l-Bahá take a
little walk up and down, visit the pilgrims. Mostly Persian pilgrims those
days, early time. Then, from there `Abdu'l-Bahá said "Come on, I will introduce
you to My family." Then I went in Greatest Holy Leaf's room and met all
the ladies of the Household ever since they are in Haifa. Although I haven't
served very much, you see I stayed with `Abdu'l-Bahá, ah, two years. I
used to go around everywhere. Always He ask me to go with Him. Even on
the Christmas Day, we have a little church here, behind the Master's house,
we call on them. Have taken a picture too, with Master and ah, minister
and myself. Once we have a walk up to the, I mean, a drive up to the college,
up to top of mountain. There used to be a German hospice and, ah, we had
a key and looking over, I says, "`Abdu'l-Bahá, this is a wonderful place,
and, I like have such a place like this." "What?" he said, "You small man,
you want a big house like this? Little chicken coop is good enough for
you!" He laughed, and then He said "Never mind, in the future you will
have the best place in the world."
And, ah, He wanted to go to Jerusalem but He became sick and, ah, passed
away. He had planned to go, pay a visit to High Commissioner, Lord Allenby,
He told me that. Yes, we made many trips, all round here. Even, ah, He
took me to mosque. He usually go every Friday morning, before He passed
away. I don't know how to pray, but Muslim, yeah, the notables from Haifa.
(laughter) Many things happen.
During time of Master, He was not much organized. He is more of a free.
Many pilgrims come here and visit Him. Some of them stay quite many days.
`Abdu'l-Bahá like to make friend with all communities. Went once to the
nun's convent. We used to call. Went to Tiberias. He always stay in Mrs.
Grossman's hotel, and, ah, He had a special room, on the top of the roof.
He used to enjoy it very much. Used to go then from there He used to go
to Ti.., ah, his farm near `Adasiyyih, that's where He raised wheat, and
distributed it among the people, poor people, during the war. From `Adasiyyih,
those, ah, believers there, they send them over, bring them over here,
Haifa, and He distribute it to all the poors here. Those were the days
of, ah, very, ah, scarcity of food in Haifa.
The British government acknowledged and knighted `Abdu'l-Bahá. We went
to the day of knighted. He didn't go direct to front of the gate, no, He
went in car, no. I waited for car, but He won't take it, no, Isfandiyar
to carriage had to run. Beautiful lesson I learn. Many things. Those little,
touch, little things, just walking on the street here, always have some
significances. The garden near ( ) has two olive tree, big trees, yeah.
He used to sit down there, used to be not so smooth, but big rock, He sit
there, and, ah, all the people passing Him by, He give a few piasters each.
Friday after mosque, at the gate, everybody waiting for His arrival, always
handout, when He had run all out, and ask for little change. So I always
have few small coins.
We used to go to, ah, the Mansion Bahji, in Pilgrim House, where Mrs.
ah, Mrs. Ward is there, there is a one room there, and many, ah, pilgrims.
We had one side where now Mrs. Ward's living room, that used to be our
pilgrim room. There nothing but a mat and, ah, sleep there, there used
to be some platform there, so couple of us sleep and some one down on the
floor, and the Master to the one room. Early in morning He used to chant.
Oh, that's a wonderful, wonderful place! Early in the morning. Himself.
Sometimes He go to over there, ( ), all depend on His affair. You see,
there many notable call on Him from Abu-Sinan. There's a little Druze village
there. They come down, we had to entertain them sometimes from the Akka.
Garden of Ridvan is the most wonderful place to be. I love it! Those
days, time of `Abdu'l-Bahá. You know, Feast of Ridvan, we used to go over
there and have a luncheon, eat there. Caretakers used to give us, ah, nice
tea and we come back in the afternoon. Whole island and garden and there's
a big water (pump), donkey go round, and, ah, raise the water, like a windmill.
We go. ( ) today. Big ( ) today, now. And beyond it is a little platform
they built, and the donkey it used to carry, go around, go around, and
go around, without stopping for hours, and that watered the whole garden.
Used to be nice platform, and step, and the water go round, and we used
to wash our hand, and, and yes, yes, now everything filled up with those
Abu-Sinan, Druze, `Abdu'l-Bahá used to go over there, visit the Shaykh.
We used to go up there and, ah, remain the day, then come home. There's
a few hours ride. Every, ah, Sunday our meeting day, we used to first have
a meeting in the Pilgrim House, `Abdu'l-Bahá, ah, visit with `Abdu'l-Bahá,
and after the, ah, tea and the sweets is served, then visit the Shrine.
Sometimes He chant, sometimes He, ah, ask one of the believers have a very
good, sweet voice, would chant. Ladies go in the one side, and the gentlemen
the other side. Those days it was different. Now we are more mixed.
Bahji, when we have a certain, ah, Feast day, Birthday of Bahá'u'lláh,
we used to go over there. I have a wonderful Feast, any Feast in, ah, at
the Pilgrim House, central room. `Abdu'l-Bahá, very generous, very kind.
Then Mrs. Emogene Hoagg -- she stayed a month there! That little house,
little sitting room, top of the stables, garage. Yes! Isfandiyar used to
keep two, three horses, and the carriage, and he sleep in there, all his
life, and at last he moved to Number 7, to back room, where I sleep in
the room now, of course. `Abdu'l-Bahá, every morning, right after tea --
He had tea -- and He go up and dictate Tablet. All the correspondence,
till, oh, oh, nearly noon. He had a secretary like Ali-Kuli Khan and some
other, ah, secretary, and, ah, then when He finished the important correspondence
He would visit the pilgrims. All the Persian pilgrims waiting down below,
near the, that, ah, avenue there, hoping see `Abdu'l-Bahá. Then He called
individuals. I think about, oh, sometimes, oh, 40 all depends on pilgrims,
you see, yeah, 40, we had many Bahá'ís around Haifa and Nazareth, Tiberias,
and `Adasiyyih. They all come, and Akka. Oh yes! Forty, fifty, a hundred,
sometime. ("With children?") Oh, yes! Big group, ah, group of believers,
adult and children all together. So we had a very big meeting. Oh, yes,
Master's presence everybody very reserved, and one or two He appointed
someone to chant. Just one; one chanting. Then they go to Shrine.
When I arrived from America to Haifa, first day, soon after visiting
all the pilgrims, you know, `Abdu'l-Bahá motioned me to come, to go to
see the Greatest Holy Leaf's room. "Now," He says, "I want you to acquainted
with Family. Member of the Family, and make yourself at home." That's one
the touching privilege I have had. Greatest Holy Leaf used to supervise
the kitchen. She supervise everything! She is wonderful! The way she go
about. All the family used to have tea with `Abdu'l. Oh, very early. Very
early. And in the Greatest Holy Leaf's room. Oh yes. I used to go there,
have tea, and she ask someone to chant and dispersed, and go back to work.
Edna True used to stay here for some month, she used to visiting. From
that little house, Pilgrim House, it used to be, we go over there, have
tea. Then we have big breakfast at the Pilgrim House. Sometimes there's
some pilgrims go after having taken tea, go up to visit the Shrine, and
come down for breakfast.
Yes, `Abdu'l-Bahá was very, very kind to me. We had many trips, many
jokes. I used to grow my beard, you know. He play with it! I had my beard
first time I went to back to Japan, 1936, I come back with beard. Then
I was working out in the garden, and everybody look, make fun of me, so
I asked the Guardian, "You don't mind I shave my beard, do you?" He said,
Shoghi Effendi used to play in American University, spring, summer,
he used to come down, come home for holiday. We used to play tennis down
below here. And, some of the grandchildren of `Abdu'l-Bahá used to play
down here. Especially I made tennis court. All that now garden, is shape
of tennis court. That's a year's work.
And this house, when they built, I build the foundation on. They give
me that big cistern back there, carrying all dirt out in the street, level
it, even tennis court, I laid down. Those days I was a little stronger.
Carried a basket with dirt. Of course we had many laborers, you know. This
place is just nothing but a hill, a rocky hill, excavated, leveled, it's
just like mountain, making garden.
Yes. `Abdu'l-Bahá used to walk right on that main, little street, used
to be narrow like this. I used to level it, widen. He used to walk from
little house, up there. I was cleaning, smoothing and laugh, I was working,
I mean, leveling, working hard, making a path, road for easy to walk. He
used to take walk right around here, up to the German colony here, a couple
block, and then come home.
You know, before `Abdu'l-Bahá passing away, it was on a Friday, we went
visit the mosque in Haifa, Friday morning. That day return from mosque,
He had to walk up the step. He says "I am tired," went into the room. Then
Friday, Saturday, Sunday! Three days. Sunday night, He passed away. Those
days we had many American pilgrims there. That Mr. and Mrs. Hoagg, Boschs
were there. I heard the cry, deafening noise. So immediately I went up
this gate, there's many collected and mourning, the Eastern believers very
demonstrative, you know. I said "What is it?" "It's `Abdu'l-Bahá has passed."
So immediately I come back to Pilgrim House, informed them. And some of
them come out, come now. That day. It's one o'clock, and all the family
are all together there. Can't help. Doctor just left, Dr. Habib, that Christian
Arab, that's their family doctor. Then from that room we had after few
days, the day in Mount Carmel. I went there myself, making a place. ( )
called, ah, Ramatullah, he's very strong man, he carried casket way down.
Ramatullah lived a long time ago, he was caretaker, gardener, very nice
man. He had a big family, but years ago.
All the notables from Haifa and Jerusalem, all were collected here,
ah, for funeral. Even Herbert Samuel, walked right up, passing Master.
Just out from this room, Number seven, and go around, Rahmatu'llah turn
corner, in front of center of church, then go up, up, up, up, up to the
Shrine. Everybody carrying casket up to the resting-place. Then up memorial
day, we had biggest service here in Number seven. Then we had biggest dinner,
luncheon served in, ah, Number nine. That one of the daughter's family,
Will of, ah, `Abdu'l-Bahá read in Number seven. In the center of the
hall! That room! Oh, we had the biggest, ah, meeting there. All sitting
on floor. A prominent Bahá'í, from Egypt, he read the Will, right in the
corner, and everybody faced, and everybody sat around, even the Nakazeen,
some of the Nakazeen was among us, violator. Very touching ceremony. Oh,
from early in morning, we had a meeting, ah, to go some time, to circulate
all the Will of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Every time mention, ah, Shoghi Effendi's
name, everybody arise. Very respectable, very. That's why the Shoghi Effendi
is be Guardian of the Cause. That day. ( ) family, back in that tea room
now. See, the gentlemen and the ladies are all segregated. They know, behind
the curtain, they all know. The Will of `Abdu'l-Bahá was read, everybody
consented, Shoghi Effendi is the Guardian of the Cause. That's final, nobody
object, and then after the passing `Abdu'l-Bahá, the reign of Guardian,
I stayed many years. You know, even all family close to `Abdu'l-Bahá
is all gone. No Bahá'ís here, used to be whole street was Bahá'ís here.
Only few family here in Haifa. I'm still here. I went back to Japan on
leave, 1936. I stayed in Japan three months, and then I come back. In 1938,
Shoghi Effendi said "You go back to Japan. War is coming." Then I stayed
in Japan from 38 to 55. Yes, 17 years I was in Japan. During all war. You
see, I couldn't come back here before. Very difficult to get the passage,
visa, passport. Yes, ever since then I am here. Nearly 50 years!
And, Shoghi Effendi gave me that piece of land on Mount Carmel to develop.
Right above the Archive Building, little group of pine trees there. I started
work very hard. Before Guardian passed away, I created, cleaned every afternoon
we was together up the mountain. He come up to where I am working, he come
up every afternoon, to see. He see, wonderful sight, ah, place to observe
what's going on in the garden - developing, watching. He wanted to develop
the other side of the Archives, but suddenly didn't finish it. Eventually
the House of Justice develop. He want to finish everything. He couldn't
finish it. Beautifully, side of Archive Building. It's not detached yet.
From 4 o'clock on, come up. He usually drive up and then walk down. Used
to be no steps, wide, just a mountain path. Then until sunset, visit the
Shrine, he come home have dinner. He like to walk very much. He used to
have dinner here with the pilgrims. Yes, he works very hard. I miss him
very much. Guardian, we're too busy. He works day and night. I messenger
boy, up and down, up and down the stairs. He was very kind to me. He trusted
me, so I am able to stay here a long time (laugh), so long, I don't know.
That's brief story of my Bahá'í life. I don't know, I haven't served
anything very particular. But, I'm able to stay here so many years. Maybe
good thing for Japan, sometimes I think of it.