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

by Barbara R. Sims

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Chapter 4

4. Star of the East Series (Higashi no Hoshi)

There were three separate series of the Star of the East magazine (Higashi No Hoshi) prepared and printed by the Bahá'ís of Tokyo, with no connection between the different series except the name, which was suggested by Miss Alexander. The first series was started in October 1920 and continued until December 1922, with a total of 24 issues. The second series was started in May 1932 and continued for a total of eight issues until March 1933. The first two series of the journal were mailed out to Bahá'ís and non-Bahá'ís, especially Esperantists. The third series was started in November 1952 and continued for only three issues, to end with the March 1, 1953 edition. However, in September 1953 the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly started the Bahá'í Geppo (monthly news) and it has continued since then, with a change of name to Bahá'í News in June 1967.

The First Version of Star of the East, 1920-1922

In 1920 two of the Tokyo Bahá'ís, Miss Yuri Mochizuki and Mr. Kenjiro Ono, a blind Bahá'í, thought it would be good to publish a Japanese Bahá'í magazine. When they talked it over with Miss Alexander she wholeheartedly agreed and they decided upon a name: Higashi no Hoshi or Star of the East.

When 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote to Miss Alexander July 28, 1920 He asked her to encourage Miss Mochizuki to write: "Extend my great kindness and praise to the maid servant of God ... [Yuri] Mochizuki ... so that she may with a divine power, a heavenly purpose and Godly motive, start her writing and that the breaths of the Holy Spirit may help her pen." Miss Alexander felt that starting a journal was in keeping with what 'Abdu'l-Bahá wanted, that is, Miss Mochizuki would be writing it.

On December 9, 1920 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote again to Miss Mochizuki. Mr. Saichiro Fujita, the second Japanese to become a Bahá'í, was then living in the Holy Land assisting 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Fujita translated the Tablet into Japanese in Haifa at 'Abdu'l-Bahá's command.

'Abdu'l-Bahá was pleased with the idea of a journal in Japan and wrote to Miss Mochizuki in detail what to put in it. Miss Mochizuki was the editor with Mr. Kenjiro Ono assisting.

After the first issue was sent to 'Abdu'l-Bahá Mr. Fujita wrote to Miss Mochizuki: "The copies of Star of the East were received and presented to the Master. He was very pleased with your work."

Five hundred copies of the first issue of Higashi no Hoshi were printed and mailed to Bahá'í friends. Miss Alexander also sent them to various Bahá'í centers around the world and to Esperantists.


The small journal was spread around Japan. In those early days dissemination of information was a necessity and played an important role in the development of the Bahá'í community. In many cases Bahá'í bulletins were the only Bahá'í contact for long periods of time for some of the believers.

Regarding the three different versions of Star of the East, Miss Alexander encouraged the Bahá'ís to keep the name. The journals were in Japanese and occasionally something was written in Esperanto. The first two versions of the magazine had the Esperanto subtitle "La Stelo Orienta."

The first Star of the East was Vol. 1, 1920 (October, November and December); Vol. 2, 1921 (January through September), and Vol. 3, 1922 (January through December). Then it was stopped. Miss Alexander returned to Hawaii and Miss Mochizuki went to France so there was little activity in the Bahá'í community.

In those early days the Bahá'ís did not have much local news so the early volumes were like deepenings. For example, Volume 1 contained Tablets from 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Bahá'ís in Japan, including what He had instructed them to print; a photo of a model of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in Wilmette, Illinois, U.S.A. with a description of it and the hope that there would be one like it in Japan some day; a short history of the Faith by Mr. Ono; an article by Miss Alexander and one by Mrs. Ida Finch; talks of 'Abdu'l-Bahá on destiny taken from Paris Talks and Some Answered Questions and a photograph of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Miss Alexander wrote about Mrs. May Maxwell and a portion of Mrs. Maxwell's letter to the Japanese was printed; a prayer of Bahá'u'lláh; an article about Christianity and Buddhism; and a pilgrimage account of Mrs. Maxwell. The editions usually contained poems written by Bahá'ís and notices of meetings.

Vol. 2 contained 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Tablet to Dr. Augur which mentioned Tokyo; a photo of a Bahá'í Christmas party which more than 60 neighborhood children attended; an article about Esperanto by one of the Tokyo Bahá'ís; a Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to South American believers which was sent to Tokyo by Martha Root; an article by Mrs. Finch; the Bahá'í calendar; Tablets by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, one to San Francisco Bahá'ís; an account of Fujita and his first encounter with 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 1911 and his move to Haifa. Vol. 2 No. 3 contained a photograph of Tokyo Bahá'í girls with a photo of the Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá which He sent to them. It also contained more Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Japan and prayers by Him. Vol. 2 No. 4 contained an account by Mr. Taisaku Matsuda (non-Bahá'í) of a meeting with 'Abdu'l-Bahá in New York. It also contained a letter from a German Esperantist; an account of a Bahá'í meeting in Kobe through the efforts of Mr. Inouye and Mr. Misawa. Vol. 2 No. 5 had a photo of 'Abdu'l-Bahá putting his signature on a Tablet to Japan; an account of a woman (not named) who visited the Holy Land in 1906; a letter from Dr. Esslemont to the Tokyo Bahá'ís; an article from Tomojiro Hamada, a young Tokyo Bahá'í who was a bee keeper and who wanted to "work like a bee" to spread the Faith; news from Wilmette and the Holy Land. No. 6 had an article by Dr. Augur and a deepening by Miss Mochizuki. The last two issues of Vol. 2 contained a


Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Mr. Kanichi Yamamoto, the first Japanese Bahá'í; a drama by Mrs. Laura Clifford Barney translated by Miss Mochizuki; notice of an interracial meeting in Washington D.C.; information that Miss Mochizuki was going to France and could not edit the journal any longer. No. 9 contained Writings about eternal life; a pilgrimage report; the Tablet of Ahmad and a photograph of Fujita holding two grandsons of 'Abdu'l-Bahá; and an article by Mr. Toshio Tanaka, an early Tokyo believer.

Vol. 3, the last volume in this series, was edited by Mr. Kenji Fukada with the help of Miss Mikae Komatsu. Scattered through the volumes were writings on the basic principles of the Faith. The first contained a Naw-Rúz greeting from 'Abdu'l-Bahá which was taken from Star of the West; some Hidden Words in Esperanto and Japanese; Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá translated by Mr. Fukada; part of the book In Galilee by Thornton Chase; an account of a memorial service for 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Subsequent issues contained a talk by 'Abdu'l-Bahá given in Palo Alto, California, U.S.A.; an account of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's funeral in Haifa; a Naw-Rúz meeting was held in Inogashira Park, Tokyo; an article about the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the appointment of Shoghi Effendi as Guardian; the first letter written to the Japanese community by Shoghi Effendi; Miss Alexander's explanation of the Mashriqu'l-Adkár; the Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Dr. Auguste Forel; 'Abdu'l-Bahá's Words to Jinzo Naruse, president of Japan Women's College.

The span and depth of the material was quite good considering that they had nothing in Japanese and very little in English to draw from. Also the issues of the magazine (approximately A5 size) usually had 15 to 20 pages. They borrowed from Paris Talks, Star of the West editions and from the very few other Bahá'í books and put together an attractive readable Bahá'í magazine. It was truly a meritorious endeavor.

The Second Version of Star of the East, 1932-1933

In March 1932 there were eleven Bahá'ís in Tokyo and at Miss Alexander's suggestion they elected a Local Spiritual Assembly (concerning which more later.) At the first meeting of the Assembly it was decided to publish a monthly Japanese Bahá'í magazine. The first issue was sent out May 23, 1932 and the last of this series, the eighth issue, was distributed March 1933. Miss Mochizuki, who had returned to Tokyo from Paris, was its editor. She had married by this time and was now Mrs. Yuri Furukawa. The format of the magazine was different, being larger in size with fewer pages but with the same motif and subtitle "La Stelo Orienta." On the first page of each issue was a quotation by Bahá'u'lláh. The 1932-33 version contained deepenings on the basic Bahá'í principles. The various issues contained an article from an Esperanto friend; information of the election of a Spiritual Assembly; a letter to the Tokyo Bahá'ís from Shoghi Effendi; a letter from Mr. Tokujiro Torii, an early Bahá'í; an article about the Báb; a discussion of labor strikes taken from 'Abdu'l-


Bahá's talk published in Some Answered Questions; various Hidden Words translated by Mrs. Furukawa; history of the Faith; a message to the Tokyo Bahá'ís from Horace Holley; a message to Esperantists; a talk of 'Abdu'l-Bahá given at the Oakland, California Japanese YMCA; and excerpts from Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era.

The Third Version of Star of the East, 1952-1953

The third version of Star of the East was just three issues, one in 1952 and two in 1953. This version, which was edited by Tokyo member Mr. Yoshiharu Kushima, whom the American pioneer Mr. Robert Imagire described as "a sincere believer about 25." The subtitle was dropped.

Vol. 1, No; 1, November 1, 1952 issue was fourteen mimeographed pages and contained some Hidden Words; news about the construction of the Shrine of the Báb; the Ascension of Bahá'u'lláh and a ceremony at Bahjí; news of the Faith in Africa; and a U.S. Youth Conference. Local news mentioned a talk by American pioneer Mrs. Joy Earl given at the Tokyo YMCA.

Vol. 2, No. 1, January 1, 1953 issue contained the Bahá'í calendar; a prayer of 'Abdu'l-Bahá; news about the Wilmette Temple and garden; Miss Alexander's resignation from the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly before her move to Kyoto and Lt. Col. John McHenry taking her place; and information about meetings in Shinagawa, Yokohama and Ichigaya.

Vol. 2, No. 2, March 1,1953 issue was 26 mimeographed pages and contained some Hidden Words; information about the Fast; twelve principles of the Bahá'í Faith; 'Abdu'l-Bahá's talk on opposition to the Faith; an article by Mrs. Furukawa about love and knowledge; local news that Mr. Imagire and Mr. Koji Akizawa had gone to America (separately); notification of Bahá'í meetings; and an item about a talk about the Faith given by Lt. Col. John McHenry at the YMCA.


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