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Unfurling the Divine Flag in Tokyo:
An Early Bahá'í History

by Barbara R. Sims

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Chapter 12

12. The Bahá'í Geppo (Monthly News)

In 1953 the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly decided to publish a news letter which they called the Bahá'í Geppo (monthly news). This was to take the place of the third and final version of Star of the East, the last issue of which was March 1953. The Bahá'í Geppo was published from September 1953 to May 1967. Since then the monthly newsletter has been published as the Bahá'í News.

In the beginning, in 1953, thirteen issues were printed, although most of them were not numbered, and apparently at least one was a "special" so it is not known just how many were considered to be separate issues. After printing thirteen it was decided to change the numbering to #46. The reason for this change in numbering was not explained but we think the Bahá'í Geppo Committee of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tokyo might have wanted to continue with the numbering of the previous Star of the East editions. The three editions of the Star of the East together totaled 35 issues, and the Geppo issues were 10 to 13 depending on how one counted. If one were to consider them to be 10 issues with three specials then picking up the numbering with #46 could be explained as above.

The Conference of World Religionists, August 1-14, 1955. The main part of the conference was held in Tokyo with other sessions in various cities. Bahá'ís were represented by Miss Alexander, Mr. Marangella and Mr. Earl, who are sitting on the left.


The early issues of the Bahá'í Geppo were quite modest, four to six pages carefully written by hand, then mimeographed. Mr. Horioka was the first editor. In 1955 the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly appointed a committee to handle the Geppo. As there were pioneers in Japan who couldn't read Japanese characters the Local Spiritual Assembly decided that there should be some pages in English. From November 1955 for several years there was either an extra English edition or a couple of pages in English. In the November 1955 issue of the English version it is noted that the Tokyo community gave a farewell party for Mr. Fujita who was leaving Japan permanently to reside in the Holy Land. Miss Inatsuka reported that there were two firesides in Nagasaki (her home town), the first teaching to be done in that city.

With #65, March 1958, typed columns were used in the Geppo. With #67, November 1958, the format changed considerably. May 1967 was the last issue of the Bahá'í Geppo. From June 1967, No. 107, it was entitled Bahá'í News (Bahá'í Nyuzu, written in katakana).

There were periods when the Japanese Bahá'í News did not come out regularly but mostly it has been a reliably regular publication of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly and then of the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia (1957) and from 1974 the National Spiritual Assembly of Japan. But it all started in Tokyo.


Incorporation of the Bahá'í Faith, Tokyo, April 22 1955. The 1954 Local Spiritual Assembly had been working on the incorporation and on April 22, 1955 a certificate was issued by the government, thereby fulfilling a goal of the Ten Year Crusade. When the National Spiritual Assembly was formed it was possible to use the same basic incorporation but upgrading it.

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To give an idea of the contents of the early Bahá'í Geppo; #1 September 1953 informed us that Mr. Horioka was editor; a party was given for a Bahá'í traveler, Larry Hautz, at which Mr. Hongo was chairman with Mr. Kadota translating; Mr. Horioka was holding classes in his home. #2 and #3 had a report of the New Delhi Conference which Miss Alexander attended. Mr. Khadem came to Japan, spoke at a Feast, attended an LSA meeting, talked about teaching in Japan, attended an Esperanto meeting where he talked about the Faith and spoke at a public meeting. A special edition in September 1954 had a notice of the Guardian's Ten Year Plan and Japan's part. A Special Edition dated June/July 1954 mentioned that the Bahá'í Center in Amagasaki donated by Mr. Noureddin Mumtazi was becoming a center of Bahá'í activity in the Kansai area.

Even after 1957 when the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia was elected, the Tokyo LSA continued to publish the Bahá'í Geppo for a time until the task was taken over by a national committee.

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Fall 1955. A meeting in the Tokyo Bahá'í Center for Mr. Charles and Mrs. Helen Bishop, visitors to Japan. From the left: Mr. Bishop, Miss Alexander, Mrs. Furukawa, Lt. and Mrs. Hamilton, Mrs. Bishop and Miss Kotoko Mochizuki. The Bishops donated a dozen zabuton (Japanese cushions) to make it more comfortable to sit on the floor Japanese style.


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This is the contents page of the first hard cover prayer book to be printed in Japanese, August 1, 1956, Bahá'í no Kitosho. 500 copies of the dark blue covered book were printed in Kobe by the National Publishing Committee, a committee of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly. As there was no National Spiritual Assembly at that time, all committees in Japan were under the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly. The prayer book had 60 pages with prayers by Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, 'Abdu'l-Bahá and one by Shoghi Effendi. Interestingly, it contained the Tablet of Carmel. One copy was sent to the Guardian.


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