Unfurling the Divine Flag in Tokyo:
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Bahá'í Publishing Trust of Japan
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0022, Japan
Copyright © 1998 by Barbara R. Sims
Contents Preface...........................................................................4 1. The First Bahá'í Meeting in Japan, 1909...........................................5 2. The First Bahá'í Teachers to Settle in Japan, 1914................................9 3. Early Bahá'í Literature..........................................................13 4. Star of the East Series (Higashi no Hoshi).......................................16 5. The First Local Spiritual Assembly in Japan......................................20 6. The Mid and Late 1930s...........................................................21 7. The Rebirth of the Faith in Japan................................................23 8. The First Postwar Local Spiritual Assemblies.....................................27 9. Literature in the Early Postwar Period...........................................44 10. The First National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia, 1957....47 11. The National Hazíratu'l-Quds.....................................................51 12. The Bahá'í Geppo (Monthly News)..................................................59 13. Hands of the Cause and Other Eminent Bahá'ís Who Have Visited Tokyo..............64 14. Early Japanese Bahá'ís of Tokyo..................................................69 References.......................................................................77
Two American Bahá'ís, Mr. Howard Struven and Mr. C.M. Remey, were making a world trip proclaiming the Faith and Tokyo was their first stop after leaving Hawaii. They were sent on the long trip by 'Abdu'l-Bahá, who advised them to "infuse the fragrance of life into the hearts of the people of Japan."
Professor Barakatullah, an Indian man living in Tokyo, who was a friend of the Bahá'ís, arranged a meeting at which the men could speak. 'Abdu'l-Bahá had asked Mr. Struven and Mr. Remey to meet Professor Barakatullah. He wrote a Tablet May 9, 1909 telling them to convey to Professor Barakatullah His hope that the professor would become the first conqueror of the people of Japan. Barakatullah not only did not heed 'Abdu'l-Bahá's words but he later took the Teachings of the Faith and published them under the name of Islam. His loss.
The meeting which was arranged for Struven and Remey on December 27th was at the old YMCA in downtown Tokyo. It was the largest and most appropriate building in Tokyo at that time. Public notices were sent out in English and Japanese.
About 75 people assembled: Japanese, Indians, Americans and an English lady. During the six days they were in Tokyo Struven and Remey were invited to speak at various places. One was a luncheon meeting at the home of a friend with fourteen people present. Mrs. Ume Tsuda, founder of a girls' school in Tokyo, entertained them. After spending six days in Tokyo, they went to other cities in Japan and on to China.
In 1914 Dr. George Augur spoke to a group of ministers at the YMCA. Miss Martha Root during her first visit to Japan in 1915 spoke to the English Speaking Club there.
The old YMCA building was destroyed in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and another building, carrying the same name, was built in its stead. The second building, still standing, has had numerous Bahá'í meetings through the years, being the site of Bahá'í talks by Agnes Alexander, Keith Ransom-Kehler during her visit in 1931, Martha Root in the early prewar days and many talks in the 1950s by Bahá'ís in Tokyo, such as Mrs. Joy Earl and Lt. Col. John McHenry, early American pioneers who were introducing the Faith to the Japanese.
Miss Alexander with her close friends, Mr. Tokujiro Torii and Mrs. Ito Torii. This photo was taken in 1916. Mr. Torii was the fifth Japanese to become a Bahá'í, but the second in Japan. The first three Japanese to become Bahá'ís were immigrants in the United States. The fourth was Mr. Kikutaro Fukuta in Tokyo in 1915.
One of the earliest printed articles about the Faith in Japan. It was written by Miss Alexander for a women's journal in 1916.
"0 God! The darkness of contention, strife and warfare between the religions, the nations and people has beclouded the horizon of Reality and hidden the heaven of Truth. The world is in need of the light of Guidance. Therefore, 0 God, confer Thy favor, so that the Sun of Reality may illumine the East and the West." (December 30, 1912)
The notebook which contains the original prayer is in Mr. Naruse's archives at Japan Women's College in Mejiro in Tokyo. A photo copy of the original prayer can be found in the book Traces That Remain.
A few months after Dr. Augur arrived, in November 1914, Miss Agnes Alexander came to Tokyo. She was also from Hawaii and had the distinction of being the first Bahá'í in the Pacific area, having accepted the Faith while on a visit to Rome, Italy in 1900. In 1957 she was appointed a Hand of the Cause by Shoghi Effendi, Guardian of the Faith, for her exemplary service. In 1914 these two valiant Bahá'ís, Miss Alexander and Dr. Augur started meetings in Tokyo and did their best to spread the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh around Japan.
'Abdu'l-Bahá Himself sent directives to the Bahá'ís in Tokyo. In one of His Tablets to Dr. George Augur, He instructed him, "Trusting in God and while turning thy face toward the Kingdom of Abhá, unfurl thou the divine Flag in Tokyo and cry at the top of thy voice: Ye people! The Sun of Reality hath appeared and flooded all the regions with its glorious light; it has upraised the Standard of the Oneness of the world of humanity and summoned all mankind to the refulgent Truth. The cloud of Mercy is pouring, the zephyr of Providence is wafting and the world of humanity is being stirred and moved. The divine Spirit is conferring eternal life, the heavenly lights are illumining the hearts, the table of the sustenance of the Kingdom is spread and adorned with all kinds of goods and victuals. 0 Ye concourse of men! Awake! Awake! Become mindful! Become mindful! Open ye the seeing eye! Unstop the hearing ear! Hark! Hark! The soft notes of the Heavenly Music are streaming down, ravishing the ears of the people of spiritual discernment. Ere long this transcendent Light will wholly enlighten and East and the West!"
Miss Alexander lived in the Kudan Ue (literally meaning "above the nine steps") section of Tokyo, where Dr. Augur also stayed when he first came to Japan. Miss Alexander and Dr. Augur made friends, found interested people and started meetings. Dr. Augur left Tokyo for a few months in 1915. When he returned he was accompanied by his wife Ruth. Miss Alexander and the Augurs were very heartened by the teaching as every week brought new people to hear of the Faith.
In 1916 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote concerning meetings being held in Tokyo:
"Consider thou, what great favor God has bestowed that such spiritual meetings are being held in Tokyo and such heavenly gifts are being distributed."
Three Japanese had become Bahá'ís in the United States earlier. However, the first to become Bahá'ís in Japan were Tokyo friends of Miss Alexander. Mr. Kikutaro Fukuta, an eighteen-year-old student was the first to declare his belief in Bahá'u'lláh, in 1915. He wrote to 'Abdu'l-Bahá twice and received answers; two
Tablets, the first to be received in Japan by a Japanese.
'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote to him (in part), "The Most Great Guidance is a crown the brilliant gems of which will shine upon all the future ages and cycles. If it is placed on the head of a servant, he will become the object of the envy of kings, for this is an imperishable crown and an everlasting sovereignty ... Praise be to God, that thou hast become especialized with Divine Favor and Bounty. Thou didst become awake, beheld the lights and harkened unto the Melody of the Supreme Concourse."
Mr. Fukuta eventually left Tokyo and moved to Toyohashi, near Nagoya, where he managed a business involving rice. He died in 1959. (Many years later this writer
This is an invitation to a gathering in commemoration of the passing of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Miss Alexander kept this copy in her diary and wrote the explanation on the back. Thirty-six people, including six women, were present. Eleven people spoke on that occasion.
located Mr. Fukuta' s two sons in Toyohashi. One was a teacher and the other a rice importer. They were very cordial and recalled Miss Alexander with affection. She sometimes visited them when their father was alive.)
On November 28, 1921 'Abdu'l-Bahá passed away. His passing was a terrible blow to Bahá'ís around the world, but the steadfastness of His sister Bahiyyih Khanum, and the able leadership of His chosen successor, Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Bahá'í Faith, served to reassure and inspire the Bahá'ís.
In 1922 Shoghi Effendi asked for a list of Bahá'ís in Japan. Miss Alexander stated that there were nine Bahá'ís in Tokyo and nine in other parts of Japan. The Tokyo Bahá'ís were: Miss Alexander; Mrs. Ida Finch, an American Bahá'í who spent two years in Tokyo teaching the Faith; Mr. Kenji Fukada; Miss Mikae Komatsu (in later years she was Mrs. Tadako Arakawa); Miss Otoe Murakami; Miss Kimiko Hagiwara; Miss Kazuko Fukusawa; Miss Haruko Mori and Miss Yuri Mochizuki (Furukawa).
Miss Alexander and Mrs. Finch were in their home in Tokyo when the Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1, 1923 occurred. Suddenly a violent tremor shook the house and continued to grow in violence. They fled to the little street as some of the roofs of houses fell. As the tremor lessened Miss Alexander rushed back into the house to get her handbag in which she carried the prayer for protection, which 'Abdu'l-Bahá had revealed at the request of Bahá'í students in Beirut College. She wrote that when the earth trembled she read the prayer aloud and each time it quieted. Three times this occurred. The front of their house was thrown out and the plaster walls crumbled but as she wrote, "His love and protection was there." They could continue to stay in the house. Two-thirds of Tokyo was destroyed and thousands lost their lives in the catastrophe. The Bahá'ís of Tokyo helped take care of homeless children.
In July 1928 the Japan Religious Conference was held in Tokyo. Fifteen hundred people representing Buddhists, Christians, Shintoists and others were present. Miss Alexander was asked to represent the Bahá'ís. This was the first large religious meeting in Japan to which Bahá'ís were invited. Miss Alexander wrote to Shoghi Effendi about it and he sent a greeting to the conference.
In 1928 as a coronation gift to the new Emperor of Japan, Showa (Hirohito), the Tokyo Bahá'ís presented seven specially bound Bahá'í books, a donation from American Bahá'ís. Mr. Rokuichiro Masujima, a friend of Miss Alexander, assisted with the presentation. The gifts were, of course, presented to the Emperor indirectly, through one of the imperial chamberlains. Shoghi Effendi wrote a note to the Emperor to go with the books.
In 1930 when Martha Root visited Tokyo she also presented Emperor Showa with some gifts, including a cable from Shoghi Effendi. (The complete story is recorded in Japan Will Turn Ablaze!, revised edition.)
Miss Alexander originally arrived in Japan November 1, 1914 and left July 27, 1917. At 'Abdu'l-Bahá's urging she came again to Japan August 9, 1919 and left October 12, 1923. At the Guardian's suggestion she returned to Japan January 19, 1928 and left May 30, 1933. She returned again May 19, 1935 and left March 20,
1937. During her trips to Japan she lived in Tokyo. During her stays out of Japan she either traveled or went to Hawaii. She returned again to Japan, at the Guardian's urging, in May 1950 and lived in Tokyo for two years, then moved to Kyoto where she assisted in establishing the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Kyoto (1956).
This was the first religious conference in Japan to which Bahá'ís were invited to participate. Most participants were Buddhists, Shintoists, and Christians. The organizers expected about 700 people; however, the first day a total of about 1400 persons attended. Miss Alexander, who represented the Bahá'ís, was one of the three foreigners invited to speak.
The conference was quite progressive for its era. Some of the resolutions passed were: to outlaw war and support the League of Nations in its objectives; to protect the handicapped and establish a child welfare bureau in order to protect children; to establish a national hospital as a measure to prevent and exterminate leprosy; to let foreign religious creeds live in harmony; to remove racial discrimination and legal discrimination against ex-convicts; to abolish liquor from gatherings of religionists; to involve temples, shrines and churches in neighborhood welfare work; to put an end to anarchism which threatened the order of the world. They also approved religious instruction in teachers' colleges as they said religious faith is the foundation of character building.
In her speech Miss Alexander said she deeply appreciated being given the chance to speak as a representative of the Bahá'í Faith. She emphasized that all human beings are of one race and that religions should cooperate with one another. She told about Bahá'u'lláh and some of His Teachings.
Miss Alexander kept in touch with one of the organizers of the conference which resulted in her being invited to speak at various meetings through the years.
In 1916 Miss Alexander wrote an article in the form of a letter to the blind women of Japan. Mr. Kyotaro Nakamura, a teacher of the blind and editor of the only religious journal for the blind in Japan, translated Miss Alexander's article Message of Light to the Blind Women of Japan (Nihon no Mo Joshigata ni) into Japanese Braille as a pamphlet and also printed it in his magazine. Miss Alexander wrote that it was not only the first of the Bahá'í teachings to be circulated among the blind in Japan but also the first pamphlet to be published in the Japanese language.
That same year Dr. Augur was requested to write an article on the Bahá'í Faith for a theological magazine. The next year he had it printed in booklet form with the addition of the message to the people of Tokyo which 'Abdu'l-Bahá had sent to him in a Tablet. It was called What Is the Bahá'í Movement? (Bahá'í Undo to wa). It was also put into Japanese Braille.
During those early years Miss Alexander was able to have a number of newspaper articles printed in both Japanese and English. Also many articles were printed in the Esperanto magazines. Miss Alexander concluded that all Esperantists in those early days heard about the Faith.
Through the years Miss Alexander had connections with the blind of Japan, of which there were many, because of her friendship with Mr. Vasily Eroshenko and Mr. Tokujiro Torii, both blind. When Miss Alexander was in Switzerland before going to Japan she met a Russian Esperantist who asked her to look up Eroshenko in Tokyo. Eroshenko was a Russian Esperantist associated with the School for the Blind. He knew Mr. Torii, who was a student at the school, and introduced him to Miss Alexander. She taught the Faith to both of these friends. Eroshenko did not commit himself to becoming a Bahá'í but Mr. Torii did, becoming the fifth Japanese to accept Bahá'u'lláh. Through the years Mr. Torii worked tirelessly to improve the conditions of the blind and provide them with literature of the Faith in Japanese Braille, thus offering spiritual salvation.
Miss Alexander also wrote a pamphlet called A Message of Love to the Women of Japan (Nihon no Fujingata ni). It was translated by Miss Ichi Kamichika, a friend of Miss Alexander, and printed in 1916.
In 1915 Mr. Eroshenko translated the Arabic portion of The Hidden Words (Kakusaretaru Kotoba) into Esperanto and it was printed about 1916. Miss
Alexander read the book to him and he first took it down in English Braille. (The Hidden Words in Esperanto has more recently been reprinted by the Esperanto association in Tokyo in connection with a book on Eroshenko.)
In 1916 a 77-page pamphlet called Religion of Love (Ai no Shukyo), a compilation of things published in English from the United States, was translated by Mr. Ujaku Akita and Mr. Shusei Kawaii, friends of Miss Alexander, and printed in Tokyo. The same year an original pamphlet was written by Mr. Kenzo Torikai, a Bahá'í from Seattle who visited Japan. The pamphlet called The New Civilization (Sekai Shin Bunmei) was printed by the Tokyo Bahá'ís.
In 1920 two pamphlets were added to the literature in Japanese, Mashriqu'l-Adhkár translated by Daiun Inouye, the Buddhist priest who became a Bahá'í, and The Call (Gendai no Sakebi) written by George Latimer, translated by Mr. Torii.
'Abdu'l-Bahá's Teachings About Peace was translated by Mr. Inouye. This was first published in a Buddhist paper and later printed in pamphlet form. A Message of Light which consisted of Words of Bahá'u'lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá was translated by Mr. Inouye and Mr. Saiki. The latter pamphlet was printed in 1920 by the generosity of Mr. Roy Wilhelm who had compiled the original pamphlet. This pamphlet was also put into Japanese Braille by Mr. Torii.
In 1927 Miss Yuri Mochizuki translated a basic two-page pamphlet What Is the Bahá'í Movement? (Bahá'í Kyo Undo to wa) and the Bahá'ís of Tokyo printed 2,000 copies for distribution.
Miss Alexander collected all the Tablets written by 'Abdu'l-Bahá to Japanese including one to Koreans. They were printed in pamphlet form in English in 1928. The small yellow book was called Tablets to Japan. These Tablets had been translated and put in the journal, Star of the East, but were not printed in book form in Japanese until years later in the 1970s when they were included in the Japanese translation of the book Japan Will Turn Ablaze!.
In December 1931 Miss Alexander received a letter from the Guardian which had been written in October. He wrote that he was eagerly awaiting the news of the publication in Japanese of John Esslemont's book, Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era. Miss Alexander had written to Mr. Inouye in Kobe but as she had received no answer she decided to go and confer with him. She wrote that it was a "blessed meeting" and that he agreed to do the work and would have some help with the translation. After delays, the book was finished and printed in Tokyo, 1000 copies, in December 1932. Miss Alexander wrote how thankful they were for this bounty.
The Guardian had ordered 100 copies, which arrived in Haifa in February. He wrote that the books were placed by himself side by side with the fourteen other printed versions in different languages. These books can still be seen there.
Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era was revised by Mr. Tameo Hongo and Dr. David Earl and reprinted by the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly in 1956 and has been reprinted twice since then, in 1978 and 1984, by the Bahá'í Publishing Trust of Japan. The Japanese Braille edition was done by Mr. Torii in 1936. Miss Alexander
sent the book, in three volumes, to the Guardian who placed them in the Mansion of Bahá'u'lláh in Bahjí.
One of the advances in literature in the early days was the excellent translation into Japanese by Mrs. Yuri Mochizuki Furukawa of The Hidden Words. This was printed in Tokyo in 1937, paid for by an American Bahá'í friend, Mrs. Louise Bosch. This translation has survived through the years and was revised and reprinted in 1970 and 1976.
This is a photo of the original book The Hidden Words translated by Yuri Mochizuki (Furukawa) and printed by the Bahá'ís in Tokyo in 1937. There was one page in the back of the book informing readers of the availability of the book Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era which was printed by the same company.
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.
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.
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.
There is some reference to a Local Spiritual Assembly being established in Shanghai, China in 1928 and again reference to one in 1934. Aside from this, we can say that the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly formed in 1932 was the first in the Asian Pacific area.
In 1928 the Guardian had written to Miss Alexander, "I urge you to make a special effort to organize the believers there into a local Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly as a nucleus round which will gather and flourish the future Bahá'í community." And again, "My prayers will be offered again for you at His holy Shrine that you may be assisted to establish permanently a Bahá'í Spiritual Assembly in that land, and help that centre to get in close and constant touch with Assemblies both in the East and the West." However, it was not until 1932 that Miss Alexander felt it was possible to form an Assembly.
To be exact, it was March 13, 1932 when the idea came to Miss Alexander that it was time to form the first Local Spiritual Assembly of Tokyo. So she sent letters to her friends to come to her house for that purpose. At that time there were eleven Bahá'ís in Tokyo: Rev. Sempo Ito, a Universalist minister who had accepted the Faith; Mrs. Yuri Mochizuki Furukawa; Miss Otoe Murakami; Mrs. Kanae Takeshita; Mr. Y. Kataoka (first name unknown), a blind Bahá'í "whose life had been changed from darkness to light through the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh" (according to Miss Alexander); Mr. Keiji Sawada, a teacher who was blind; Miss Agnes Alexander; Mrs. Antoinette Naganuma, an American woman married to a Japanese (her sister was a Bahá'í in the United States); Mr. Nakanishi (first name unknown); Mr. Hidehiko Matsuda; and Miss Keiko Eito, a dressmaker who had a staff of young women assisting her (once a month they put their work aside and held a Bahá'i meeting; Miss Eito also arranged meetings for Martha Root and Keith Ransom-Kehler when they came to Tokyo). The first nine names were elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly. At the first meeting Miss Alexander was elected chairman, recording secretary and foreign secretary and Mrs. Furukawa was elected secretary/treasurer. A few days later, after the Naw-Rúz celebration at Dr. Rokuichiro Masujima's garden, Miss Alexander sent a cable to the Guardian: "Naw-Rúz greetings Tokyo Assembly." To which he replied: "Loving remembrance Shoghi." Then on April 21, which was the proper day to officially elect a Local Spiritual Assembly, it was voted on again. This time the same group was elected except for Mr. Matsuda, who took the place of Mr. Y. Kataoka, who asked to be relieved. Miss Alexander was proud of the fact that there were five women on that first assembly.
In April of the next year, 1933, the Tokyo Bahá'ís elected the Local Spiritual Assembly again. The same Bahá'ís were elected with one change: Mr. Kanji Ogawa took the place of Mr. Keiji Sawada. Mrs. Furukawa was chairman, Mr. Matsuda secretary and Mr. Ogawa treasurer.
The Assembly was not elected again until 1948.
Miss Alexander had lived in Tokyo for five years since her last visit to her homeland, Hawaii. This time her stay in Hawaii was two years. As it was the Guardian's wish that she return to Japan she did so in May 1935. During the time she was in Hawaii the Faith in Japan did not go forward nor hold its own. The Bahá'ís were not ready to function on their own. However, as Miss Alexander wrote "My heart has never faltered for an instant, for how could it when this is God's Plan and He is Our Helper under all conditions."
In Tokyo she engaged a house in Kudan and moved into it in September. She stayed there until she left Japan in March 1937. The first gathering in her new home was a celebration of the Birthday of the Báb. Some of the old friends came and also some new ones. Attending were Mr. and Mrs. Takeshi Kanno. Mr. Kanno, who was a poet, had met 'Abdu'l-Bahá in California in 1912 and had been shown great love by Him. Mr. Kanno is sitting beside 'Abdu'l-Bahá in the well-known photograph taken of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and the friends in Oakland, California in 1912. Mr. and Mrs. Kanno did not become Bahá'ís, however.
Miss Alexander made the acquaintance of a young man who worked for the Japan Times newspaper. Some years before, he had known Mrs. May Maxwell when he was at school in Canada. He was attracted to the Faith but he had not become a Bahá'í. It occurred to Miss Alexander that she might have something published in the newspaper about the Faith through this young man. She was able to have a number of articles published in the Japan Times and also in a Buddhist newspaper and a Braille weekly paper edited by her friend Mr. Kyotaro Nakamura.
After she became acquainted with a professor who was teaching at Meiji University she was often invited by the students to speak at their weekly English meeting. She wrote that they would talk of the Teachings of Bahá'u'lláh. She belonged to the Pan-Pacific Club, a cultural club in Tokyo which met weekly. She spoke about the Faith before Blind Association meetings and Esperanto groups.
In spite of the activity there was no Bahá'í group functioning in Tokyo but a letter written on behalf of the Guardian advised Miss Alexander that "patience, perseverance and hard and continued efforts are needed in order that your mission may meet with complete success." The Guardian added that future generations would reap an abundant harvest of the seeds she was sowing.
Mr. Tokujiro Torii decided to publish a Japanese Braille edition of Bahá'u'llah and the New Era in memory of his son Akira, who had died at age 17 in 1935. Akira was the first second-generation Bahá'í in Japan. Thirty copies of the book, which had 770 pages, were distributed, of which thirteen were sent to libraries of the principal schools for the blind. Others were sent to blind workers for the blind.
In the fall of 1935 Mr. Hossain Ouskouli (Uskuli) from Shanghai visited Tokyo for business. He was the second Iranian Bahá'í to visit Tokyo. The first was Mr. H. Touty who came on a business trip in 1932 and who Miss Alexander said "brought the spiritual fragrance of the Master."
Miss Alexander left Japan in 1937 to go to Haifa for her long-awaited pilgrimage and then to her home in Hawaii. She was not to return to Tokyo again until 1950.
Martha Root paid her fourth visit to Japan after Miss Alexander had left, June 3 to June 27, 1937, visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. She met all the Bahá'ís and had several meetings arranged for her. She was the last Bahá'í from another country to visit Japan before World War II began. Bahá'ís of Japan would not have another foreign Bahá'í teacher until Mr. Robert Imagire came as a pioneer in 1947.
After Miss Root left Japan, and in the absence of Miss Alexander, there seems to have been virtually no Bahá'í activity.
Mr. Imagire became a Bahá'í
in Reno, Nevada, U.S.A. in 1942. In 1946 he was living in Chicago and he wrote
to the Guardian asking for advice as to where to pioneer. In December of that
year he received a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi encouraging him to
go to Japan: "He [the Guardian] feels very strongly that it would be rendering
the Cause a very great service if you could go to Japan and not only teach the
Faith there but help to rally the existing believers and get them active in this
work once more. This would be the ideal thing for you to do, and he urges you to
make every effort to go as soon as possible. You could perhaps get a job out
there with the U.S. civilian administration, or representing some business firm
... You may be sure that the beloved Guardian will pray for the way to open for
you to go to Japan and render the Cause many memorable services there in the
Mr. Imagire did go, arriving about the beginning of August, 1947. He found a job with the U.S. Army as a draftsman and did indeed render memorable services.
Just about the time of Mr. Imagire's arrival in Japan, three Bahá'ís, one from the time of Miss Alexander - former Buddhist priest Mr. Daiun Inouye - and two others who had recently become interested in the Faith, Mr. Goro Horioka, a prominent middle-aged businessman, and Mrs. Masako Urushi, went to Sendai to see an American Bahá'í, Mrs. Lorraine Wright, whose husband was attached to the United States Armed Forces. They had learned of Mrs. Wright's presence from a letter from Miss Alexander. They wanted to ask if a Bahá'í teacher could be sent to Tokyo. By coincidence, Mrs. Wright had just received a telephone call from Mr. Imagire saying that he had arrived in Tokyo.
According to a report written by Mr. Imagire about that time, Mrs. Urushi had previously visited Prince Takamatsu, a brother of Emperor Showa, and she happened to mention that her daughter's father-in-law, Mr. Daiun Inouye, had translated the book Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era into Japanese; she also mentioned some of the Teachings. Mr. Horioka, who was present at this gathering, was impressed and asked to read the book. He soon realized that it was the truth. He contacted Mr. Inouye, who was living in Hokkaido at that time, asking him to return to Tokyo, which he did. The small group started an investigation of the Teachings, visiting Mrs. Wright as mentioned above. Then Mr. Imagire arrived.
The group in Tokyo started meetings at the Shinagawa Girls' School where Mrs. Urushi worked. According to Mr. Imagire she was the founder of the school. Mr.
Imagire also had English classes at the Shinagawa Police Station. Attendants were policemen, businessmen, and students; about 20 people. This was the beginning of the rebirth of the Bahá'í Faith in Tokyo (and indeed in Japan).
Mr. Yoshio Tanaka, Mrs. Yuri Mochizuki Furukawa and Mr. Daiun Inouye, Miss Alexander's friends from the early 1900s. This photo was taken in 1948 in front of the Shinagawa Girls' School where many of the early postwar Bahá'í meetings were held. These three persons were among the few Bahá'ís with whom contact was re-established after World War II.
In March 1948 the few Bahá'ís, and friends, celebrated Naw-Rúz, the first such celebration for many years. It was held at the home of Mrs. Urushi with thirteen people attending.
Robert Imagire wrote that the situation was daunting, that although there were a few Bahá'ís they had no literature and no funds. However, they were sufficiently confident to form a Local Spiritual Assembly in June 1948. It was not on the proper date but the Guardian was pleased and it was the spark the Bahá'ís needed.
In 1937 when she last left Japan, Miss Alexander had stored her Bahá'í library with her old friend Dr. Rokuichiro Masujima. She asked Robert to try to find her books. When Robert arrived at the building where the books were stored, in Shinagawa, he found that the area had been bombed out with only two buildings left standing. One of those contained the books. There were 200 copies of Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era in Japanese which had been printed in 1932. These books were then used in the new study classes.
About 1948 Mrs. Yuri Mochizuki Furukawa, the first Japanese woman to become a Bahá'í, returned to Japan from Manchuria where she and her husband had been living. She joined in the Bahá'í activities.
1948. This was the first public meeting held by the Bahá'ís in postwar Tokyo, at the Shinagawa Girls' High School. It seems that all of the Tokyo Bahá'ís attended, about a dozen. Mr. Robert Imagire, who was one of the speakers, took this photo. Mr. Goro Horioka, second from the right, was the other speaker.
Resurgence of the Faith in the postwar years. This photo was taken about 1948. The Bahá'ís we can identify are, seated: Mr. Daiun Inouye; Miss Minori Inagaki; Miss Fusae Ichige; Miss Yuri Mochizuki; Mrs. Masako Urushi; Miss Shigeko Nakanishi; and Miss Fumiko Kondo. Standing: Mr. Yoshiharu Kushima, who was editor of the third series (three issues, 1952 and 1953) of the Star of the East; Mr. Naoki Yoshino; Mr. Koji Akizawa; unknown; unknown; Mr. Goro Horioka; Mr. Shozo Kadota; and Mr. Robert Imagire, pioneer to Japan. Only Mr. Inouye and Mrs. Furukawa were Bahá'ís from the prewar era.
Miss Alexander's old friends Rev. Sempo Ito and Mr. Daiun Inouye were among the early Bahá'ís who could be found in Tokyo. Mr. Keiji Sawada and Mrs. Antoinette Naganuma were also in Tokyo. The latter two had been active as Bahá'ís in the 1930s; however in the later years they did not consider themselves Bahá'ís although they met with the believers on a social basis.
Other Bahá'ís in Japan were: Mr. Tokujiro Torii who was from Tokyo but was now a teacher at the School for the Blind in Kyoto; Mr. Saichiro Fujita in Yanai, Yamaguchi Prefecture; and Mr. Yoshio Tanaka in Chiba. Mrs. Ito Torii, wife of Mr. Tokujiro Torii, was not mentioned and it is not known if she was considered to be a Bahá'í at that time. However, Mrs. Torii was on Bahá'í lists in the mid-1950s.
Even though the Tokyo Assembly election in 1948 was not on the proper date the Guardian responded with a letter written on his behalf dated September 21, 1948:
"To know that a Spiritual Assembly of all Japanese believers was formed in Tokyo greatly inspired him [the Guardian]. This is a historic and wonderful achievement. At present it might seem to people of the world that these few devoted souls are insignificant when compared to the millions of people residing in Japan - but we who have recognized the Power of Bahá'u'lláh, and that His teaching is God's Message to men in this day, know that the seed of the Tree of Life has at last germinated in your land, and that it will grow to overshadow all those who dwell in the islands of Japan.
"The love of the Japanese people for truth and beauty is very great, and our Guardian feels sure that gradually many souls will become attracted to the Cause of God through your persevering and devoted labours.
"Your loyalty and determination touches him deeply, and he assures you all that for each one of you he will pray for guidance and blessings. He urges you to work together for the Cause as one soul in different bodies, and show by your love and unity what a force lies in our Faith for the regeneration of mankind."
[in the Guardian's handwriting]
"Dear and valued co-workers:
I was thrilled by your message and I greatly value the sentiments it expressed. I urge you to persevere and be confident, and labour unitedly for the spread of the Faith and the formation of new centres, however small, in the vicinity of your capital. I will, from all my heart, supplicate for you divine guidance and blessings, that your historic work may flourish, your numbers increase and your highest hopes be fulfilled in service of His glorious Faith.
Your true and grateful brother, Shoghi"
A meeting in Tokyo probably in late 1950 or in 1951. Front: Miss Alexander, Miss Ichige, Miss Shigeko Nakanishi, and Mr. Shozo Kadota. Standing: unknown, Lt. Lane Skelton, Miss Fumiko Kondo, next two unknown. Although the names of three of the U.S. servicemen are unknown, their support and that of others in the U.S. Armed Forces was very important to the Faith in postwar Japan. The Guardian had words of praise for the activities of the Bahá'í servicemen in Japan and Korea.
There is a report of a three-day religious conference in Tokyo in September of that year, 1948. Mr. Horioka, the chairman of the Assembly, was invited to speak on the Bahá'í Faith during the last day of this conference. Also during the same month a Bahá'í public meeting was held which was attended by 35 persons, including the vice-chairman of UNESCO in Japan and the editor of the Yomiuri Press.
The next year, 1949, a Local Spiritual Assembly was elected in Tokyo but we cannot find information as to the membership except that Mr. Goro Horioka was chairman. There is evidence that Mr. Shozo Kadota was also on the Assembly as secretary. A report shows that there were 14 Bahá'ís at the time.
There is a photograph of the 1950 Local Spiritual Assembly of Tokyo. The members were Mr. Robert Imagire, Mr. Kinya Saito, Mr. Toshio Hirohashi, Mr. Naoki Yoshino, Mr. Yoshiharu Kato, Mr. Shozo Kadota, Mr. Goro Horioka, Miss Fusae Ichige and Miss Shigeko Nakanishi, a dressmaker, who also worked at night as a telephone operator for a hotel. Nevertheless she was as active in the affairs of the Faith as she was able to be, according to Mr. Imagire.
Miss Alexander, at the Guardian's suggestion, came back to Japan in May of that year. It was difficult to obtain a visa as Japan was under American Occupation but one of the friends, Lt. Jacob Davenport, sponsored her. She stayed in Tokyo for two years.
After she returned to Japan Miss Alexander spent a week in Kyoto with Mr. and Mrs. Torii, whom she had not seen for thirteen years. She quickly returned to her active life in Japan. That year she was invited to speak about the Faith at the Unitarian Church in Tokyo three times and she again made contact with the Esperantists.
In 1951 the membership of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly was as follows: Mr. Robert Imagire, chairman; Mr. Goro Horioka, vice-chairman; Miss Fusae Ichige, recording secretary; Mr. Naoki Yoshino, corresponding secretary; Miss Shigeko Nakanishi, treasurer; Lt. Lane Skelton (with the U.S. Armed Forces); Mrs. Barbara Davenport (whose husband was with the U.S. Air Force); Miss Agnes Alexander; and Mr. Shozo Kadota. In July of that year Mr. Kadota left the country (he was assigned abroad in the diplomatic service) and Mr. Kinya Saito was elected to fill the vacancy.
The community was quite active. They had regular Assembly meetings, Feasts and Holy Days. They appointed several committees, made 50 mimeographed copies of a much needed prayer book (it sold for 30 yen) and had at least two farewell parties, one for Mr. Kadota and one for Miss Alexander, who was expected to leave Tokyo to move to Kyoto. They had a birthday party for one of the members, Mrs. Davenport. They had study classes for new Bahá'ís and sponsored several public meetings.
On World Religion Day, January 20, 1952 the Tokyo Assembly sponsored a public meeting at the YMCA, with an audience of thirty people. Miss Alexander was the featured speaker, her talk was translated by Mr. Tameo Hongo, who worked in the Foreign Ministry. He had become a Bahá'í in 1951. Publicity had been given in English and Japanese newspapers.
In March 1952 the first official youth meeting was held at the Shinagawa Girls' High School. Miss Ichige was the chairman of the meeting and Mr. Yuji Kikuchi the speaker, and a young American serviceman, Miles Mahan, also spoke. About 12 people attended the meeting.
At that time we can find the names of 14 Japanese Bahá'ís in Tokyo, two American pioneers, Mr. Imagire and Miss Alexander, and 4 Americans attached to the U.S. Armed Forces.
In 1951 the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly mimeographed fifty copies of this prayer book which contained nine prayers. It seems to have been the first prayer book in Japanese.
In April 1952 the Assembly elected was as follows: Mr. Robert Imagire, chairman; Lt. Lane Skelton, vice-chairman; Miss Fusae Ichige, recording secretary; Mr. Tameo Hongo, corresponding secretary; Mr. Goro Horioka, treasurer; Mr. Naoki Yoshino; Mr. David Earl; Mrs. Joy Earl; and Miss Agnes Alexander. Mr. and Mrs. Earl, pioneers to Japan, had arrived in March. He had a position teaching at Meiji University.
The Assembly meetings were usually held once a month and Feasts and Holy Days were always observed. The Assembly appointed eight committees that year: a Teaching Committee; an Extension Teaching Committee; a Feast Committee; a Library Committee; an Archives Committee; a Translation Committee; a Publicity Committee; and the Youth Committee. According to the minutes, all were working. In July 1952 the Assembly sent a letter to the Guardian in which they gave the following statistics for Tokyo: 17 Japanese Bahá'ís; four American pioneers, Mr. and Mrs. Earl, Miss Alexander and Mr. Imagire; and eight American Bahá'ís attached to the U.S. Armed Forces. The Assembly also mentioned six Japanese Bahá'ís living in other areas of Japan.
Their minutes were full of positive action. For example, in June they decided to make official membership cards. Then they decided upon a one-day teaching conference; discussed obtaining books for their library; and discussed donating to the fund and translation projects.
Extension teaching was being done in Yokohama and Kofu. In July the first meeting was held in Yokohama with Joy Earl speaking and Robert Imagire translating, with eight inquirers and five Bahá'ís present. A report states that 16 people attended another meeting in Yokohama. In July there was a public meeting at the YMCA with Miss Ichige as the speaker, Mr. Hongo the chairman and Mr. Imagire the translator into English.
In August there was a youth picnic enjoyed by 20 young people; Bahá'ís and their friends.
In September of that year an Esperanto Congress was held in Kyoto, with about 300 Esperantists attending. Miss Alexander attended as a Bahá'í Esperantist and presented greetings from the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Tokyo. Miss Alexander moved to Kyoto that year.
In February 1953 Mr. Imagire left Japan to visit his family in the United States. He returned to Japan the next year. In March, Mrs. Mignon Witzel, whose husband was in the U.S. Army, was elected to the LSA to fill the vacancy.
In 1953 the Tokyo Local Spiritual members elected were: Mr. Tameo Hongo, chairman; Mr. David Earl, vice-chairman; Miss Fusae Ichige, corresponding secretary; Mr. Goro Horioka, treasurer; Mrs. Yuri Furukawa; Mr. Shozo Kadota; Lt.
Col. John McHenry; Mrs. Elizabeth McHenry; and Miss Shigeko Nakanishi. Mrs. Yuri Mochizuki Furukawa, who had been living in China for several years, was back in Tokyo helping with the Bahá'í work. Lt. Col. and Mrs. McHenry left Japan in September of that year and in a by-election Mr. Yadollah Rafaat, an Iranian pioneer, and Mr. J. Sandusky, an American serviceman, were elected. Mr. Sandusky left Japan and Mr. Yuzo Yamaguchi was elected to fill the vacancy. Mr. Earl moved out of Tokyo and Mr. Philip Marangella, a new American pioneer to Japan, was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly.
In March 1952, the first Bahá'í youth meeting was held at the Shinagawa Girls' High School. Mr. Yuji Kikuchi (left) was the speaker, Miss Fusae Ichige, the chairman, and American serviceman Miles Mahan also spoke. Miss Ichige recalls that about 12 people attended.
The LSA appointed several committees: a Feast Committee; a Teaching Committee; an Extension Teaching Committee; a Translation Committee; a Publishing Committee; a News Committee; a Library Committee; a Youth Committee; and an Archives Committee. It seems as though all the Bahá'ís in Tokyo were on one committee or another. According to the Local Spiritual Assembly minutes the committees were quite active.
The Assembly had weekly firesides, at Mrs. Furukawa's and Mr. Rafaat's, and deepening classes, and was doing extension teaching in Kofu, Yokohama and Kyoto. There were nine isolated believers and a group was listed later in the year in Amagasaki, in the Kansai region, where Mr. Noureddin Mumtazi had donated a house to be the local Bahá'í Center, the first Hazíratu'l-Quds in Japan.
In November 1953 Hand of the Cause Mr. Khadem visited Japan and other Asian countries. He had just attended the Asian Teaching Conference in India. Among the meetings organized for him by the Local Spiritual Assembly was a public meeting at the Unity Church in Tokyo with about forty people present. Mr. Khadem spoke on World Unity, with Mr. Hongo translating.
According to a report, Mr. Khadem also went to Amagasaki to dedicate the Bahá'í Center.
In 1953 Mr. Rafi and Mrs. Mildred Mottahedeh visited Japan for the first time, and at least twice after that. Mrs. Mottahedeh was elected to the International Bahá'í Council in 1961.
In 1953 the Ten Year Crusade, which
constituted the third and final stage of the initial epoch in the evolution of
'Abdu'l-Bahá's teaching Plan, was launched by Shoghi Effendi, the
Guardian of the Faith. There were several goals which involved
That was quite a task for the Bahá'ís, who at that time numbered only about 30 total, not including American Bahá'ís attached to the U.S. Armed Forces.
A word should be said about those Americans. They were usually stationed in the Tokyo area for a year or two. Those who made the effort to find the Tokyo Bahá'ís and involve themselves in activities were usually young, devoted, active and eager to help in any way. The Guardian had words of praise for the Bahá'í American servicemen in both Japan and Korea during those years.
In April 1954 members of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly elected were: Mr. Tameo Hongo, chairman; Mr. Hiroyasu Takano, a businessman, vice-chairman; Miss Fusae Ichige, recording secretary; Mr. Robert Imagire, corresponding secretary; Mr. Goro Horioka, treasurer; Mrs. Barbara R. Sims, a new pioneer to Japan; Mr. Yadollah Rafaat; Mr. Yuzo Yamaguchi; and Mrs. Yuri Furukawa.
Mr. Imagire, who had returned to Japan in March, was elected to the LSA in April. However, he left Tokyo in June to live in Kansai and Miss Kotoko Mochizuki (unrelated to Mrs. Yuri Mochizuki Furukawa) was elected to fill the vacancy on the Tokyo LSA. Also Mrs. Barbara Sims was then elected as corresponding secretary.
The 1954 LSA appointed eight committees: a National Teaching Committee; an Extension Teaching Committee; a Feast Committee; a Translation Committee; a Library Committee; a Publishing Committee; an Archives Committee; and a Youth Committee. The Teaching Committee was called the National Teaching Committee as it had the responsibility of teaching throughout Japan, in keeping with the LSA of Tokyo functioning as an National Assembly, as directed by the Guardian. It also kept records of membership from all over Japan and met often with the goal of spreading the Faith to far-reaching areas. That year there was a regular weekly fireside at Mr. Rafaat's house and a weekly deepening class at Mrs. Sims'. The Tokyo Bahá'ís sponsored a well attended meeting every month in Yokohama as part of a goal to spread the Faith to outlying areas. The Guardian had mentioned that the Faith should spread out from Tokyo so various cities were designated as extension goals.
That same year, during the summer, a two-day national teaching conference organized by the National Teaching Committee of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly was held in Atami, the first time such a conference had been attempted in Japan. About 30 people attended, half were Japanese and the rest American and Iranian pioneers. It was stimulating for all the Bahá'ís to get together. In April of that year the second Local Spiritual Assembly in Japan was elected, in Hyogo Prefecture. So for the first time Japan had two Local Spiritual Assemblies. Until that time Tokyo was the only Local Spiritual Assembly in the North East Pacific, the nearest being Singapore.
Mr. Takano, who was elected to the Local Spiritual Assembly in April 1954, had returned to Tokyo in March of that year after a year abroad in the United States, England and Germany, during which time he became a Bahá'í. He was encouraged to request a pilgrimage to Haifa on his way back to Japan. It was granted in February and he became the only Japanese Bahá'í aside from Saichiro Fujita to meet the Guardian.
The 1954 Local Spiritual Assembly started the process for obtaining official registration (incorporation) of the Bahá'í Faith. Incorporation status was granted April 22 of the next year, 1955. Incorporation of the Faith was an important goal for various countries during the Ten Year Crusade.
On May 1, 1954 Miss Alexander was appointed an Auxiliary Board Member by the Hands of the Cause in Asia. She was living in Kyoto at the time. This was the first appointment of an Auxiliary Board Member in Japan and it brought Japan closer to the Hands of the Cause in Asia, who were based in Teheran, Iran.
In July 1954 statistics given were that Bahá'ís resided in 15 localities in 10 prefectures with a total of 52 believers. Twenty of them resided in Tokyo.
The Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly appointed a committee to try to find a
suitable building which could become a Hazíratu'l-Quds. In December 1954 the Assembly purchased Mr. Rafaat's house in Shinjuku Ward for that purpose and another goal of the Ten Year Crusade was accomplished.
In December 1954 the Tokyo Community had a commemoration party at a hotel for Miss Agnes Alexander, as it had been 40 years since her initial arrival in Japan. The LSA chairman, Mr. Hongo, was master of ceremonies at the party. Miss Alexander's old friends and contacts were invited, many of them speaking of her with admiration and affection. Miss Alexander spoke of the early days of the Faith in Tokyo.
In 1955 the members of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly were as follows: Mr. Tameo Hongo, chairman; Mr. Hiroyasu Takano, vice-chairman; Miss Kotoko Mochizuki, recording secretary; Mrs. Barbara Sims, corresponding secretary; Lt. Lawrence Hamilton, a newly arrived American serviceman, treasurer; Mrs. Virginia Hamilton, Lt. Hamilton's wife; Mrs. Yuri Furukawa; Mr. Yuzo Yamaguchi; and Miss Lecile Webster, who was attached to the U.S. Embassy. During the year Mr. Hongo
resigned from the LSA as he was assigned overseas by the Foreign Office. In a by-election Mr. Haruo Nekomoto was elected to fill the vacancy. Mr. Takano then became chairman and Mr. Yamaguchi vice-chairman.
In April 1955 there were 26 Bahá'ís in Tokyo, which included four Americans. There were 63 Bahá'ís in Japan in fourteen localities.
In August 1955 Bahá'ís were invited to participate in the Conference of World Religionists which was held in Tokyo with some sessions in other cities. Mr. David Earl was the Bahá'í representative, with Miss Alexander and Mr. Marangella also attending. Present at the conference was Rev. Michio Kozaki, whose father was the interpreter for 'Abdu'l-Bahá when He spoke to a Japanese audience in Oakland, California in 1912.
In September 1955 the Asian Regional Teaching Conference was held in Nikko, Japan. The conference was sponsored by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States but hosted by the LSA of Tokyo. It was the first such conference in Asia. It was to have far-reaching effects, not only for Japan but for all of Asia. It was the 1954 and 1955 Tokyo Local Spiritual Assemblies that made all the arrangements. An effort was made to assist every Japanese believer to attend and 19 of the 39 Japanese believers in Japan at that time were able to attend. Nearly all of the American and Iranian pioneers attended as did several Bahá'ís from other countries.
Hand of the Cause Mr. Khadem, who was the Guardian's representative, and his wife, took part in the conference. After the conference Mr. Khadem met with the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly and he stressed that translating and printing literature in Japanese should take precedence.
In November 1955 a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States commented on the Teaching Conference in Nikko. He was "delighted" with the results of the conference. He also stated that the help of the American Bahá'ís was essential and that he hoped it would not be necessary for any of them to leave Japan. The American pioneers were uplifted by Shoghi Effendi's words.
On the advice of Mr. Khadem the Assembly decided to appoint a National Treasurer which it could do, because according to the Guardian's direction, the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly was acting as a National Spiritual Assembly. Iranian pioneer Mr. Noureddin Mumtazi, who lived in Kobe, was appointed. He was also actively helping to get more Bahá'í books published in Japanese.
The Assembly that year appointed five committees: a Translation Committee; a Teaching Committee; a Library/Archives Committee; a Publishing Committee; and a Feast Committee. In an effort to expand, two firesides a month were held in Yokohama. Weekly deepening classes were held at the home of Mrs. Sims, and the usual fireside which was held at the Bahá'í Center. That year the first teaching was done in Nagasaki arranged by Miss Inatsuka who had relatives in that city.
The Tokyo Assembly wrote to the Guardian in 1955 asking for permission to change the boundaries where Local Spiritual Assemblies could be formed. As mentioned before, in 1954 a Local Spiritual Assembly was formed in a prefecture, but it was felt that this was too large a jurisdiction. The change was approved, and from 1956 the area of jurisdiction would be the shi (city), machi (town), and mura (village). Activities outside of those areas would be handled by the National Teaching Committee. This was similar to the situation in other countries.
On September 26, 1955 the Tokyo Hazíratu'l-Quds was officially dedicated. Miss Linfoot, who represented the NSA of the United States at the Nikko Conference, was still in Japan and she participated along with 40 other persons.
In 1955 Saichiro Fujita left Japan to reside again in the Holy Land after an absence of 17 years. During those years he lived with relatives in Yanai, Yamaguchi Prefecture. The Tokyo friends had a farewell party for him.
In January 1956, 27 believers were reported in Tokyo and the Faith was growing in other areas. At that time there were 69 believers scattered in 16 localities in Honshu and one in Kyushu.
In March a Naw-Rúz meeting was held at the Kudan Kaikan, a meeting hall in the Kudan district, at which Mrs. Furukawa and Mrs. Earl spoke.
The Faith grew considerably nationally, especially during the next year, as a result of more teaching by the Japanese friends and the American and Iranian pioneers. At that time few, if any, pioneers could speak Japanese so they relied on
Japanese believers to help them teach the Faith. Classes and/or firesides were being held in ten cities. Indeed, the Faith was expanding outside of Tokyo.
The 1956 Local Spiritual Assembly members were: Mr. Shozo Kadota, chairman; Lt. Lawrence Hamilton, vice-chairman/treasurer; Mrs. Barbara Sims, corresponding secretary; Miss Kotoko Mochizuki, recording secretary; Mr. Haruo Nekomoto; Miss Yukiko Inatsuka; Miss Yoko Majima; Mrs. Jean Eaton, whose husband was with the U.S. Armed Forces; and Mrs. Virginia Hamilton.
At Ridván 1956 the LSA of Hyogo Prefecture was disbanded and a total of eight Local Spiritual Assemblies, with cities as the areas of jurisdiction, were elected or formed by joint declaration. They all made their reports to the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly which had responsibility for all of Japan until the next Ridván when the new National Spiritual Assembly would be elected.
The 1956 Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly had to make most of the plans for the historic first National Convention of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia, which was to take place at Ridván 1957. The National Spiritual Assembly of the United States corresponded frequently with Tokyo about this important coming event, helping with the preparations.
In October 1956 the Bahá'ís were invited to participate in the International Congress of World Fellowship of Faiths in Tokyo. It was inaugurated by the Vice-President of India, Mr. Radhakrishnan. The Bahá'í Faith was represented by two Tokyo members, Mr. Marangella and Lt. Hamilton, but the conference was attended by a total of twelve Bahá'ís at different times.
In October 1956 there were 28 Bahá'ís in Tokyo; a total of 120 throughout Japan in 22 localities.
In January 1957 the Tokyo/Yokohama Bahá'ís started a 9-week study class to prepare themselves for more effective participation in the formation of the new National Spiritual Assembly. Nine to 16 Bahá'ís attended the class. In March of that year there was a total of 138 believers in Japan, in 24 localities, including 29 Bahá'ís in Tokyo.
In April 1957 members elected to the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly were: Mr. Hiroyasu Takano, chairman; Mrs. Barbara Sims, secretary; Mr. Yadollah Rafaat, treasurer; Mr. Haruo Nekomoto; Miss Kotoko Mochizuki; Mr. Frederick Suhm, an American civilian attached to the U.S. Armed Forces; Miss Yukiko Inatsuka; Mr. Philip Marangella; and Mr. Shozo Kadota. One of the goals of the Ten Year Crusade was to elect a Regional Spiritual Assembly (also referred to as a National Spiritual Assembly) for North East Asia, with its seat in Tokyo (see Ch. 10). The 1956 and 1957 Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly, in collaboration with the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, worked very diligently to bring about this important advance of the Faith in Asia.
The Local Spiritual Assembly of Tokyo had been valiantly serving all of Japan
and, before the election of the new National Assembly, corresponding with the other countries which would be a part of the new North East Asia jurisdiction. But it happily turned over the files and responsibility for the area to the new National Assembly. Interestingly enough, four members of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tokyo were elected to the new National Spiritual Assembly: Mr. Takano, Mrs. Sims, Mr. Rafaat and Mr. Marangella. It probably made the transition of responsibility for the Faith in Japan from the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly to the new National Spiritual Assembly easier.
As part of the activities of the convention there was a public meeting at which Miss Charlotte Linfoot, representative of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States and Mr. William Maxwell, representative from Korea, spoke with the talks summarized by Mr. Takano, chairman of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly. Invitations were sent out in Japanese and English and it was reported that 70/80 people attended.
One of the first actions of the new National Assembly was to assign the continuation of the Japanese Geppo (monthly news) to the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tokyo.
In November 1957 the Bahá'í world was devastated by the news of the sudden passing of Shoghi Effendi. The Tokyo Bahá'ís held a commemorative meeting. Despite the loss, the Bahá'ís turned to the Hands of the Cause for guidance and continued with their work of establishing and spreading the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. The Hands guided the affairs of the Faith until the election of the Universal House of Justice in 1963.
The International Congress of World Fellowship of Faiths held in Tokyo October 1956. Lt. Lawrence Hamilton and Mr. Philip Marangella spoke on behalf of the Bahá'ís. Among the Bahá'ís attending, Mr. Marangella, Mr. Noureddin Mumtazi and Miss Agnes Alexander can be seen in the front row to the left.
The Tokyo LSA continued its teaching activities in Sendai, Kofu, and helping Yokohama. The teaching was usually done by pioneers and Japanese believers together. That year in Tokyo three weekly firesides were held, a weekly deepening class, two Tokyo-Yokohama teaching conferences, and a children's class, the first for Tokyo, was held twice a month. Naw-Rúz 1958 was celebrated with a public meeting, at which Mrs. Earl was the speaker.
1958. Although Tokyo no longer had national responsibility the Bahá'ís carried on as usual. That year Local Assembly members were: Mr. Hiroyasu Takano, chairman; Mrs. Joy Earl, secretary; Mr. Y.A. Rafaat, treasurer; Dr. David Earl (who had by this time received his doctorate from Columbia University in New York); Miss Yukiko Inatsuka; Miss Kotoko Mochizuki; Miss Yoko Majima; Mr. Haruo Nekomoto; and Mrs. Barbara Sims.
In October there were 34 Bahá'ís in Tokyo. During the year there were two weekly firesides, three well attended public meetings and three joint meetings with the Yokohama community.
That year the Tokyo LSA started a Public Meeting Practice class for Bahá'ís to learn how to speak publicly.
Mrs. Shirin Fozdar from Singapore visited Japan in August of that year. The Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly planned a public meeting for her at Kudan Kaikan to which 50 people came.
1954. This was the first teaching conference in Japan. About 40 Bahá'ís attended, half were Japanese and the rest American and Iranian pioneers. It was held at Atami, an oceanside resort near Tokyo, and lasted two days. Miss Alexander can be seen wearing a hat.
This photo was taken in early 1954. We do not know the occasion. Shown are Mr. Robert Imagire, Mr. Y.A. Rafaat, unknown, Mr. Bernard Leach, Miss Agnes Alexander, unknown, unknown, Mr. Tameo Hongo, Mr. Philip Marangella, and Miss Kotoko Mochizuki (Honma). Some of the present old-time Bahá'ís say the unknowns look familiar but they can't remember the names.
The Naw-Rúz celebration in 1959 consisted of a public meeting to which 70 Bahá'ís and friends came. Mrs. Earl played the piano and Mr. Kim Kyong Whan, a Korean friend of Miss Alexander, sang. Mr. Takano spoke about Naw-Rúz.
1959. The Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly consisted of: Mr. Takano, chairman; Mrs. Joy Earl, secretary; Mr. Eiichi Okuhara, treasurer; Mrs. Sims; Miss Inatsuka; Mr. Marangella; Mr. Nekomoto; Miss Yoko Majima; and Dr. Earl.
There were Bahá'ís in eight localities in Japan with 25 isolated believers. Tokyo had 38 believers.
That was the year the first Bahá'í wedding was held in Tokyo (see Ch. 11), although there had been two Bahá'í weddings earlier in other cities.
Hand of the Cause Mr. Ala'i visited in late 1959 and had meetings in Tokyo and Kansai. Two meetings were held at the Tokyo Bahá'í Center. As notification was short only 15 Bahá'ís attended both times. Still that was fairly well attended for a meeting not regarded as a public meeting. Mr. Ala'i spoke in Persian, translated into English by Mr. Rafaat, and translated into Japanese by a Japanese Bahá'i, Mr. Eddie Oji, a member of the Tokyo community. A United Nations meeting was held at Toshi Center attended by 40 people. The Birthday of the Báb was commemorated with about 30 people present. Tokyo had firesides, deepening and study classes and a fireside for women. There was also a three-month training class for teaching Bahá'ís to be chairpersons at meetings.
One thing noticeable in the activities in the 1950s is that the Tokyo friends had as many public meetings or parties as they could in addition to the regular deepening and fireside activities. For example, every year during the 1950s they had a carefully planned Naw-Rúz public meeting or party. Instead of the usual public meeting at a hall, the Naw-Rúz parties of 1956 and 1957 were held at the Sims' home, with food and interesting talks by Tokyo Bahá'ís, with everyone welcome. United Nations Day, World Religion Day, etc., were events that were always celebrated. The same pioneer had a year-end Bahá'í party every year. All Feasts and Holy Days were observed. These events combined with plenty of firesides and deepenings classes boded well for the advancement of the Faith in the Tokyo area especially. There was always some event to attend, to bring friends to, and this gave a sense of unity and camaraderie which attracted more people to the Faith.
In 1948 the Bahá'ís of Tokyo issued a carefully hand-written 10-page mimeographed pamphlet called Bahá'í Faith no Shiori (guide). It seems to have been the first basic pamphlet in the early postwar years.
The Hidden Words (Kakusaretaru Kotoba) had been printed in 1937 but it is not mentioned in the early postwar era so it is likely that there were few, if any, copies for use. In 1951 Mr. Torii had a Japanese Braille edition of The Hidden Words printed, sponsored by Miss Alexander.
In 1951 fifty copies of a prayer book in Japanese were mimeographed by the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly. It was called simply Inori (Prayers) and contained one prayer of the Báb; five of Bahá'u'lláh including the short Obligatory Prayer, The Tablet of Ahmad, a fasting prayer, a healing prayer and a prayer for unity; two prayers of 'Abdu'l-Bahá and one by the Guardian.
In November 1953 a small basic introductory pamphlet called Bahá'í Shinkyo no Tebiki (Bahá'í Faith Introduction), or more familiarly, the Tebiki, was written by a committee of the Tokyo Assembly and printed by mimeograph in 1953: 2000 copies. About the same time the Local Spiritual Assembly hastily mimeographed 500 copies of what they called an "emergency pamphlet" to pass out free of charge at meetings. They used material from the Shiori and Tebiki. The Tebiki was put into Japanese Braille by Mr. Torii and a notice inserted in the Braille edition of the Osaka Mainichi newspaper which brought 15 requests. The second printing of the Tebiki was done by the regular printing method in 1954: 1000 copies. That small pamphlet has been updated and reprinted many times through the years and the Bahá'ís are still using it.
At the urging of Miss Alexander the Tebiki was again printed in Japanese Braille, 700 copies, under the auspices of the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia in 1963. Mr. Torii arranged to have the Braille pamphlet sent to 500 addresses of blind persons.
At the end of 1953 the well-known British potter, Bernard Leach, who was a Bahá'í, wrote a pamphlet titled My Religious Faith (Watakushi no Shukyoteki Gainen). It was printed at his expense in two versions, English and Japanese, on
attractive washi paper. Of course it was a personal explanation by Mr. Leach primarily for his Japanese acquaintances, but as he was so famous and respected the pamphlet became a very successful means of promulgating the Faith. Mr. Leach gave the Bahá'ís permission to reprint it when all the copies were gone.
A Glossary of Bahá'í Terms (Bahá'í Shinkyo Yogoshu), Japanese/English, was mimeographed by the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly in August 1953 and passed around. It was an attempt to standardize the language used by Bahá'ís. In 1955 the glossary was expanded and a second version edited by Mr. Hongo and Mr. Earl of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly was professionally printed in Osaka.
In 1955 the Tokuhon (Ten Lessons) was printed, 1000 copies with both soft and hard covers. It was originally written by Mrs. Mamie Seto for another country but the LSA felt it was suitable for Japan. It was translated by Mr. Kadota and provided much needed deepening for the new Japanese believers.
In 1956 the first hard cover prayer book was printed, Bahá'í no Kitosho, 500 copies, by the National Publishing Committee in Kobe, a committee of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly. The 60-page book came with both a hard blue cover and a soft cover. It had prayers by Bahá'u'lláh, the Báb, 'Abdu'l-Bahá, and one by Shoghi Effendi. Interestingly, it contained the Tablet of Carmel.
1953. The cover and first page of the first mimeographed glossary, of Bahá'í terms in English and Japanese. Two years later it was expanded considerably and printed in Osaka under the direction of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly.
That year there was a reprint of a one-page statement of the Bahá'í stance on the atom bomb. The original was apparently taken from a statement issued by the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States. The first Japanese version was printed in Tokyo about 1953 or 1954.
In the mid-1950s an American pioneer hired professional translators, with review and printing being done by the Tokyo LSA, thereby increasing the literature. So by the end of the 1950s there were several pamphlets and the first edition of Paris Talks ('Abdu'l-Bahá no Pari Kowashu) printed in 1959, which had a second printing in 1976. Additional pamphlets available in Japanese were Shigo no Sei (Life After Death), Bahá'í no Seiyaku (Bahá'í Covenant), Bahá'í Shinkyo Mondoshu (Bahá'í Answers), Kami wa Jitsuzai-suru (Existence of God, in both hard and soft covers), Kunan Gyakkyo no Seishinteki Imi (The Meaning of Spiritual Adversity) and Seishin no Shori (Victory of the Spirit). In 1961 the book Some Answered Questions ('Abdu'l-Bahá no Shitsugi Ohtohshu) was printed for the first time. The second printing was done in 1989.
Printing of books and pamphlets increased through the years; however, it was to be several years before Japan would have its own Publishing Trust. In 1974 at the direction of the Universal House of Justice the Bahá'í Publishing Trust of Japan was established. The first book printed under its auspices was Japan Will Turn Ablaze! in English. It sold well internationally and the profits helped get the Trust established economically. The Japanese version of that book, Ryogen no Hi - Nihon, was printed in 1978. After the establishment of the Publishing Trust many pamphlets and books, predominantly in Japanese, were published.
The largest number of Bahá'ís in North East Asia were in Japan but the formation of this Assembly was the culmination of dedicated teaching efforts first by pioneers followed by native believers in all the countries.
At the time of the election of this first National Spiritual Assembly in eastern Asia there were 138 adult believers in Japan including 29 in Tokyo. Bahá'ís were in 24 locations in Japan of which 12 were isolated areas.
Over 80 Bahá'ís attended the first convention from various countries and 18 of the 19 elected delegates were able to attend. Miss Charlotte Linfoot, representing the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States, opened the convention and introduced the two Hands of the Cause present. Mr. Jalal Khazeh was the Guardian's representative to the convention and Miss Agnes Alexander had been appointed a Hand of the Cause of God the month before. She was also the delegate from Kyoto.
Members of the first National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia were: Mr. William Maxwell, chairman; Mr. Hiroyasu Takano, vice-chairman; Mr. Yadollah Rafaat, secretary; Mrs. Barbara Sims, recording secretary; Mr. Noureddin Mumtazi, treasurer; Miss Agnes Alexander; Mr. Ataullah Moghbel; Mr. Michitoshi Zenimoto; and Mr. Philip Marangella. (In those days, persons from the appointive arm of Bahá'í administration, such as Miss Alexander, were allowed to serve on Assemblies.)
In July 1957 the Guardian wrote of this new National Spiritual Assembly (in part), "The formation of the Regional Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia is to be acclaimed as an event of far-reaching historic significance, whose repercussions cannot be confined to the Pacific area, but are bound to affect the immediate fortunes of the entire Bahá'í world. The emergence of this epochal institution, however transitional its character, represents the culmination of a fifty year old process that has had its inception in the days of the Centre of the Covenant,
during the last decades of the Heroic Age of the Bahá'í Dispensation. The rise and expansion of the Administrative Order of the Faith in the northern regions of the vast Pacific Ocean fills a great gap, and constitutes a notable parallel to the rise of similar institutions in the Antipodes, establishing thereby a spiritual equilibrium destined to affect, to a marked degree, the destinies of the Faith throughout the islands of the Pacific Ocean, in the years immediately ahead. It should be hailed, moreover, as a momentous development paving the way for the eventual introduction of the Faith into the far-flung Chinese mainland and, beyond it, to the extensive territories of Soviet Russia."
The first National Convention of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia was held in Tokyo, April 1957. The election of that National Assembly, the first in eastern Asia, was one of the goals of the Guardian's Ten Year Crusade. There had been 12 National Assemblies around the world until that year, when 13 more were elected.
The message from the Guardian to the first National Convention of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia, held in Tokyo in 1957. The message was hand-carried to the convention by Hand of the Cause Mr. Jalal Khazeh, who was the Guardian's representative.
The first National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia, with two guests. Seated: Miss Charlotte Linfoot, representing the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States; Hand of the Cause Mr. Jalal Khazeh, representing the Guardian. Following are members of the new NSA: Hand of the Cause Miss Alexander; and Mrs. Barbara Sims, recording secretary. Standing: Mr. Noureddin Mumtazi, treasurer; Mr. William Maxwell, chairman; Mr. Michitoshi Zenimoto; Mr. Hiroyasu Takano, vice-chairman; Mr. Philip Marangella; Mr. Yadollah Rafaat, secretary; and Mr. Ataullah Moghbel. With the exception of Mr. Maxwell, who was a pioneer in Korea; all members were from Japan.
The Guardian was pleased with the membership of the new National Assembly as he said it had represented on it "the three great races of mankind, a living demonstration of the fundamental teaching of our Holy Faith..."
January 1957. A social party for Bahá'ís and their friends at the home of Mrs. Sims in Meguro, Tokyo. Hand of the Cause Miss Alexander can be seen in the second row to the right. (The photo has been cropped at the center left.)
The Guardian had given as one of the many goals of the Ten Year Crusade the purchase of a National Hazíratu'l-Quds for seventeen of the major cities of the world. Tokyo was one of them. The Guardian also indicated that he would assist in the purchase of these buildings.
In 1954 a letter written on behalf of the Guardian instructed the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly to purchase a Hazíratu'l-Quds to be used for Bahá'í activities. The letter said it was urgent and should be accomplished that year. Tokyo Bahá'ís knew it was necessary, as sometimes meetings with seekers had to be conducted in coffee shops.
The Local Spiritual Assembly appointed a committee to search for a place that would suit the needs and requirements, one of which was that it had to be inexpensive. The Guardian, knowing of the situation in Japan, had written that the Center could be modest. The committee was not able to find a suitable place.
When the Iranian pioneer, Mr. Y.A. Rafaat, came to Tokyo in 1953 he bought a house. Actually he had come a year earlier to look over the prospects but returned to Iran to settle his affairs before pioneering.
After Mr. Rafaat bought the house, all meetings, Feasts and Holy Days in Tokyo were held in it with Mr. Rafaat as the welcoming host. So it was, in effect, a Bahá'í Center already. It was Agnes Alexander who, in 1954, wrote to the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly from Kyoto that she thought Mr. Rafaat's house would be a good Bahá'í Center. Mr. Rafaat agreed to sell his house to the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly which immediately put out a call for funds, and, according to the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly records, many people responded with donations. The transaction was concluded in December 1954. The Guardian cabled that he was "delighted." A large donation had come from the Guardian himself; about half of the cost. Because of this, the Tokyo Bahá'ís always felt that the small house was very precious. And when it was torn down and a new Center built on the same land the feeling continued; the land that was bought partially by the Guardian was still in use by the Bahá'ís.
In 1954 the Guardian sent a very precious gift to Tokyo, hand-carried by Mr. Hiroyasu Takano who was returning from his pilgrimage. A letter from the Guardian stated that it was a brocade which had "rested immediately over the remains of Bahá'u'lláh in His glorious Shrine," and that the Guardian hoped it would be a source
of inspiration to the friends to redouble their efforts in the teaching field. The letter also said that the brocade should ultimately be displayed in the National Hazíratu'l-Quds. That precious brocade, displayed in the prayer room of the National Hazíratu'l-Quds, has been a source of inspiration for the friends for many years, as the Guardian hoped.
In 1956 the Guardian sent to the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly two more precious cloths. One was a light green brocade, from the Shrine of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. It is also displayed in the prayer room. The other was a hand-embroidered long white cloth from the Shrine of the Báb. That cloth is kept in the National Bahá'í Archives.
In September 1955, after the Nikko Conference, the Hazíratu'l-Quds was dedicated with about 40 people attending. Among those was Miss Charlotte Linfoot of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States. During the ceremony, candles donated by Hand of the Cause Amelia E. Collins which had been lit at the Shrine of Bahá'u'lláh were lit briefly.
Lt. and Mrs. Lawrence Hamilton, attached to the U.S. Air Force, lived in the Center from April 1955 to March 1957, when they left Japan. Lt. Hamilton did much to improve the Center by having walls put around the land, rewiring, remodeling the kitchen and adding a room.
Mr. Rafaat returned to Japan in April 1957 and stayed at the Center until March 1959, during which time he was busy as secretary of the new National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia.
Pioneer Mr. John McHenry III stayed at the Center for about two months, April and May 1959.
Miss Agnes Alexander stayed at the Center from May 1959 until July. She said she loved to say her prayers before the sacred cloth sent to the Hazíratu'l-Quds by the Guardian.
Dr. and Mrs. David Earl moved into the Center in July 1959 and stayed until March 1963 when they left Japan.
Dr. and Mrs. Yasuyuki Hosoda lived there from March 1963 until June 1964.
Mr. and Mrs. Hiroshi Yamazaki lived in the Center from July 1964 until February 1967.
Miss Ruth Walbridge, a nurse by profession, stayed at the Center for a time with Mr. and Mrs. Yamazaki. At the request of Dr. Muhajir, she had come from her pioneering post in the Philippines to help take care of Hand of the Cause Miss Alexander, who was hospitalized in Tokyo with a broken hip. Miss Walbridge
accompanied Miss Alexander to Hawaii when she left Japan in the summer of 1967.
Dr. and Mrs. Toshio Suzuki lived in the Center for three years from March 1967 to December 1970.
In the years following, sometimes the Center had no custodian, in which case the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly took care of it but often someone was staying there. Miss Tomo Fushimi moved into the Center in the early 1970s as a full-time office worker and she stayed for several years. In 1981 the National Spiritual Assembly decided to demolish the old Tokyo Center and build a new one on the same site. By this time, according to the economy of Japan, the land was quite valuable, but the Center building was too old, too shabby and too small; not at all suitable for the growing Bahá'í Faith. The Osaka Hazíratu'l-Quds was sold and the funds from the sale bought a new Center for Osaka and provided the funds for a new Center building for Tokyo. The new Center, a three-story building designed by the company of one of the Tokyo Bahá'ís, Mr. Hideyasu Takashima, was completed in August 1982.
The Tokyo Bahá'í Center a year after its purchase in 1954.
The back of the National Hazíratu'l-Quds, Tokyo as it looked in 1955. The photo was taken from the stairs of an apartment building behind. Not a single building visible still stands today. Only the building from which the photo was taken remains; everything else has been replaced by new structures.
The first Bahá'í wedding in Tokyo was that of Mr. lsamu Namiki and Miss Yoshie Noguchi in October 1959. From the left Miss Yoko Majima, Miss Yukiko Inatsuka, Mr. Namiki, Mrs. Namiki, Mrs. Joy Earl, Mrs. Barbara Sims and Mrs. Ayako Ogi.
This was not the first Bahá'í wedding in Japan — there had been two others — but it was the first in Tokyo.
However, the first Bahá'í wedding at the Hazíratu'l-Quds in Tokyo was that of Mr. William Maxwell and Miss Mary Hill in April 1960. Mr. Maxwell was a pioneer to Korea and chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia. Miss Hill was a pioneer to the Caroline Islands. She met Mr. Maxwell when she came to Tokyo to visit her cousin, Joy Earl. The ceremony was held at the Bahá'í Center with the reception at a hotel in Tokyo.
The second wedding to be held at the Tokyo Bahá'í Center was that of Mr. Yuzo Yamaguchi and Miss Mitsue Yabata, January 1961.
Dr. Yasuyuki Hosoda and Miss Yukiko Inatsuka were the third couple to be
married at the Bahá'í Center, in April 1961.
Dr. Toshio Suzuki and Miss Chiyo Sato were the fourth couple to have their wedding at the Bahá'í Center, March 28, 1964.
Through the years many couples chose to have their wedding at the original Tokyo Bahá'í Center and, after 1982, at the new Bahá'í Center. Because there were so many marriages the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia issued a pamphlet, Bahái'i Kekkon no Shiori (Guide to a Bahá'í Wedding) in 1961.
Dr. Yasuyuki Hosoda and Miss Yukiko Inatsuka were the third couple to have their wedding at the Bahá'í Center, April 1961.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
As mentioned previously, C.M. Remey visited Japan in 1909. He was appointed to the rank of Hand of the Cause in 1951. He was expelled from the Faith in disgrace a few years later.
Dr. Augur came in June 1914 for the first time and Miss Alexander also for the first time in November 1914; Miss Martha Root in 1915 and three times after that: in 1923 she spent two weeks, in 1930 she spent two months, and in June 1937 three weeks. After that, Mr. Siegfried Schopflocher in 1927; Mrs. Keith Ransom-Kehler spent six weeks in Japan in 1931. Mr. Zikrullah Khadem came twice, the first time in 1953 for one month, and the second in 1955 for two months, when his wife accompanied him. He was the first designated Hand of the Cause to visit Japan. He represented the Guardian at the Nikko Conference. Mr. Jalal Khazeh also came twice, the first time in 1957 when he represented the Guardian at the first Annual Convention of the Bahá'ís of North East Asia. Mr. Shu'a'u'llah Ala'i came once in 1959 and Dr. Rahmatu'llah Muhajir visited Japan often (19 or 20 times), the first time being in 1961. Aside from Miss Alexander, Dr. Muhajir spent the most time in Japan of any of the Hands of the Cause.
Mr. A.Q. Faizi came several times, the first time in 1963. Mr. Collis Featherstone came several times, the first time in 1965. Mr. Tarazu'llah Samandari came once in 1966; Mr. Paul Haney came once in 1967; and Mr. John Robarts came once in 1968. Mr. Ali-Akbar Furutan came four times, the first time was in 1969. He also represented the Universal House of Justice at the North Pacific Oceanic Conference in Sapporo September, 1971. Mr. Enoch Olinga came once in 1970 and Mr. William Sears, with his wife, came once in 1974 to represent the Universal House of Justice at the first Annual Convention of the Bahá'ís of Japan. Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum came twice, the first time was for a week in 1977; the second time a year later for nine weeks.
Five Universal House of Justice members have visited Japan; one before he was a member and one after. Mr. Glenford Mitchell came to Japan in October 1970 to
1965. Two Hands of the Cause, Dr. Rahmatu'llah Muhajir, third from the left, and Miss Agnes Alexander, rear second from the right, meet with the National Spiritual Assembly of North East Asia. Front: Mr. Masazo Odani, Dr. Ikuo Mizuno, Dr. Muhajir, Mr. Rouhollah Mumtazi, Mr. Eugene Schreiber, and Mr. Philip Marangella. Rear: Mr. Ataullah Moghbel, Mrs. Barbara Sims, Miss Alexander, and Mr. Abbas Katirai. Missing NSA member is Mr. Hiroshi Yamazaki. The friends are facing the garden in the rear of the old National Hazíratu'l-Quds building in Tokyo.
attend the World Conference on Religion and Peace in Kyoto, representing the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States, of which he was then secretary. Mr. Hushmand Fatheazam came to Japan in 1977 and again in 1987 with his wife. Both times he met with the National Spiritual Assembly representing the Universal House of Justice. Dr. and Mrs. David Ruhe came to Japan on a personal visit in 1986. Mr. David Hofman came on a personal visit in February 1990 after he had retired from the Universal House of Justice. Dr. Peter Khan visited in 1994 with his wife, Janet. All of these visitors held meetings at the Tokyo Bahá'í Center.
During Mr. Khadem's visit in 1953 he tried to personally meet every Bahá'í in Japan, who, at that time, numbered about 30 not counting the American servicemen. The Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly prepared for him a public meeting in December 1953 at the YMCA. Mr. Khadem also met with the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly, there being no National Assembly at that time. He was also present at the dedication of the Amagasaki Bahá'í Center.
During Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum's nine-week visit in 1978 meetings were planned around the country so as to be within easy traveling distance of all Bahá'ís, thereby giving every Bahá'í in Japan an opportunity to meet her. One of the gatherings was a two-day meeting to which all the pioneers were invited - only English was used.
Miss Agnes Alexander, who had left Japan in 1937, returned in May 1950 at the Guardian's urging and took up residence in Tokyo. She was elected to the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly in 1951 and 1952. With the Guardian's approval she left Tokyo to live in Kyoto in 1952. She was appointed Auxiliary Board Member for the Hands of the Cause in Asia in May 1954. In March 1957 after the passing of Hand of the Cause Mr. George Townshend, Shoghi Effendi appointed Miss Alexander to that esteemed rank.
Mrs. Mildred Mottahedeh and her husband, Rafi, first visited Japan in 1953 and 1954 and also later. In 1961 Mrs. Mottahedeh was elected to the International Council, the institution the Guardian called "the forerunner of the supreme administrative institution [The Universal House of Justice]." When the International Council was first formed in 1951 it was appointed by the Guardian.
Mr. Bernard Leach is well-known in Japan as one of the foremost potters of his time. He influenced a return to the Japanese folk craft art in the 1920s and 30s and he, in turn, was influenced by Japanese art. His booklet My Religious Faith, which he printed personally mainly to give to his friends, was one of the most popular pamphlets among Japanese Bahá'ís. His main pottery business was in England but he made many trips to Japan, often overseeing exhibitions of his pottery. He often spoke at meetings arranged by the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tokyo, always successful. At one time he spoke about art and the Bahá'í Faith to an audience of 250 persons, which was a record attendance for a meeting sponsored by the Assembly in Tokyo. Usually the only way the Bahá'ís could get so large an audience was to join in another organization's program, such as a United Nations meeting. But the name Bernard Leach could draw such an audience. Usually he gave his talks in English, which were translated into Japanese, but sometimes he forgot and would lapse into Japanese, which he had learned through the years of association with Japan's foremost potters.
Mr. Leach attended meetings and Feasts at the Tokyo Bahá'í Center during his trips to Japan in the 1950s and 60s. He also came in the 1970s but at that time he was partially blind and could not get around by himself. His last visit was in the late 1970s. In 1966 the Japanese government awarded Mr. Leach the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Second Class and in 1974 the Japan Foundation Cultural Award. He died in England in 1979.
Tokyo, a crossroads in Asia, has had many Bahá'í visitors through the years, some well-known and some not. A few names that come to mind: Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Christian, Dr. Dwight Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bishop, Mrs. Gertrude Blum, Mrs. Shirin Fozdar, Mr. and Mrs. Rex Collison and Mr. and Mrs. Jamshed Fozdar. Meetings were always planned, even on short notice. Tokyo has immeasurably benefited over the years from the presence of these many souls.
This photo, taken in 1965, shows some of the Tokyo Bahá'ís who are mentioned in the text. Sitting: Mr. Philip Marangella and Mrs. Ayako Ogi. Standing: Mr. Hiroyasu Takano, Mr. Hideyasu Takashima and Mr. Tameo Hongo.
Amatu'l-Bahá Ruhiyyih Khanum meets some Bahá'í women at the Tokyo Hazíratu'l-Quds in 1978. Front: Mrs. Marife Yazdani, Miss Machiko Iwasaki, unknown, Mieko Suzuki, Miss Yuko Nakajima holding Layli Schwerin, and Miss Tomo Fushimi. Standing: Mrs. Kimiko Schwerin, Ruhiyyih Khanum, Mrs. Haruko Hayashi, Mrs. Toshiko Seki, Mrs. Chiyo Suzuki, Miss Hiroko Nakajima, and Rieko Suzuki.
1987 at the Tokyo Hazíratu'l-Quds Universal House of Justice member Mr. Hushmand Fatheazam meets with the National Spiritual Assembly of Japan, accompanied by two Counsellors. It was the second trip to Japan by Mr. Fatheazam to meet with the National Spiritual Assembly. The first time was in 1977.
Seated: Counsellor Michitoshi Zenimoto, Mrs. Barbara Sims, Miss Nobuko Iwakura, Mr. Fatheazam, Miss Tomo Fushimi, Counsellor Rouhollah Mumtazi. Standing: Mr. Hiroyasu Takano, Miss Yoko Ishihara, Dr. Toshio Suzuki, Mr. Yuzo Yamaguchi, Mr. Yuichi Hirano, and Mr. Abbas Katirai. In later years Miss Iwakura and Mr. Katirai were to be appointed to the Continental Board of Counsellors; Miss Iwakura for Japan and Mr. Katirai for Russia.
Mrs. Yuriko Mochizuki Furukawa (1900-)
When she was a girl of 16 Miss Mochizuki read an article about the Bahá'í Faith written by Mr. Ujaku Akita, a friend of Miss Alexander. She wrote to Miss Alexander wanting to know more. At that time she was living in the countryside near Tokyo with her adopted parents. She asked Miss Alexander if she might come to be with her - that she could do any humble work. Miss Alexander invited her to come and live in her home. Although at that time Miss Mochizuki couldn't speak English she quickly learned it and in later years learned French while living in Paris and became a noted poet in her own language.
In 1917 Miss Alexander suggested that Yuri, as she was also known, write to 'Abdu'l-Bahá, which she did, thereupon receiving a Tablet from Him, the first written to a Japanese woman Bahá'í. Miss Mochizuki had the distinction of being the first woman of her nationality to become a Bahá'í. Miss Mochizuki and Kenjiro Ono, a blind Bahá'í, started the first Japanese Bahá'í magazine, the Star of the East, in 1920. Some years later Miss Mochizuki translated The Hidden Words into Japanese, which was published in 1937. It has been updated and republished since.
During World War II Bahá'í activity ceased in Japan but in the 1950s Miss Mochizuki was back in Tokyo after living for some years in Manchuria. She has been an active member of the community and an inspiration to the Bahá'ís.
Mr. Tokujiro Torii (1894-1970)
Mr. Torii, who was blind, first heard of the Faith in 1916 from Miss Alexander. At that time he was a student at the Government School for the Blind in Tokyo. An acquaintance of his, Mr. Vasily Eroshenko, a blind Russian Esperantist, introduced him to Miss Alexander. Mr. Torii graduated that year, got married and became a teacher in a school for the blind in Ejiri. One time Miss Alexander visited Mr. Torii at his residence and for several days read many Bahá'í books to him. He said he found a new light, and as Miss Alexander said, the Faith shone in his heart as Truth. He became the second believer in Japan.
As has happened to believers in other countries, some of the Japanese had dreams of 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Mr. Torii dreamt that he was walking in the woods near Ejiri when Someone approached him. Mr. Torii stretched out his hands toward Him and He
embraced him. No words were spoken but suddenly Mr. Torii knew it must be 'Abdu'l-Bahá. Mrs. Torii said that the dream was a source of comfort for her husband all through his life, and in times of sorrow and disappointment.
After he wrote to 'Abdu'l-Bahá he received two Tablets from Him. In 1918 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote to Mr. Torii (in part), "Although ... thou art destitute of physical sight, yet, praise be to God, spiritual insight is thy possession. Bodily sight is subject to a thousand maladies and ultimately and assuredly will be obscured. But the sight of the heart is illumined ... and is everlasting and eternal."
Mr. Kikutaro Fukuta (1897-1959)
In 1915 Mr. Fukuta was a shy young student of eighteen when he met Miss Alexander and attended her meetings. He was attracted to the Faith from the beginning and Miss Alexander said he was the first to come to meetings and the last to leave. She encouraged him to write to 'Abdu'l-Bahá and He answered with the first Tablet addressed to a Japanese Bahá'í in Japan. 'Abdu'l-Bahá wrote to him (in part), "The most Great Guidance is a crown the brilliant gems of which will shine upon the future ages and cycles. If it is placed on the head of a servant, he will become the object of the envy of kings, for this is an imperishable crown and everlasting sovereignty." Mr. Fukuta was the first Japanese in Japan to become a believer. After finishing his education he moved to Toyohashi, where he went into the rice business, but he kept in touch with Miss Alexander and she visited him occasionally.
Miss Kazu Higasa
She was listed by Miss Alexander, in 1922, as one of the Bahá'ís living in the countryside. Although technically not a Tokyo resident, her story is compelling. She was 35 years old, blind and deaf. She was a friend of Mr. Torii, who had sent her the Japanese Braille pamphlet, A Message of Light, written by Miss Alexander. As Miss Higasa read its pages with her finger tips she received spiritual sight. She began a correspondence with Miss Alexander and in one letter she described a dream she had of 'Abdu'l-Bahá coming to her home, wearing a white robe and praying in a foreign tongue. She said she could clearly see His face and hear His tender voice. She wrote, "How merciful He is to visit sightless and hearingless me in a dream in my humble home. He gave me happiness, peace and faith."
Mr. Yoshio Tanaka (1895-?)
In 1914 Mr. Tanaka was a 19-year-old student who had come to Tokyo to enter Tokyo Commercial College. He stayed at a boarding house and used the public bath. One day at the bath he found himself in the large area with only one other person, a foreign man who seemed to be enjoying his surroundings. Mr. Tanaka said he didn't dare say anything.
About a year later he was visiting a friend. Living in the next room was the man
he had seen in the bath: it was Dr. George Augur. He was wearing a kimono and sitting on the tatami Japanese style. Mr. Tanaka and his friend tried to talk to Dr. Augur but they couldn't understand his English; they did, however, hear the word "Bahá'í" repeated. Later Mr. Tanaka again met Dr. Augur who recommended that Mr. Tanaka visit Miss Alexander. He did and attended her Bahá'í classes, where she had someone to translate. It was there that he met Mr. Fukuta, Mr. and Mrs. Torii, and Miss Mochizuki.
Mr. Tanaka wrote his description of Miss Alexander, "My heart was consoled and my soul was delighted whenever I saw this open-hearted lady's bright face. With a warm smile she told me often, 'This is a Bahá'í home. I am empty and only an instrument of God. You are free here. Make yourself at home."'
Mr. Tanaka was on the list of confirmed Bahá'ís which Miss Alexander sent to the Guardian in 1922.
After World War II when Miss Alexander returned to Tokyo (1950) she looked up her old friends, among them Mr. Tanaka. He was associated with the Bahá'ís but there was not a definite enrollment system in those early years. Miss Alexander suggested that it was time for him to become a declared believer. In 1966, about 50 years after he first heard about the Faith, he officially signed an enrollment card.
Miss Fusae Ichige (Kuwata), Miss Minori Inagaki, Miss Fumiko Kondo (Okochi) and Miss Shigeko Nakanishi
These young women in their early 20s were friends. In 1947 they saw a notice at the Shinagawa train station which told of English classes being given nearby. The women were interested in learning English so they attended the classes which were taught at the Shinagawa police station by Mr. Robert Imagire. Most of the attendants, about ten, were policemen and businessmen. Mr. Goro Horioka, who was a Bahá'í, also attended the classes and he invited the women to Bahá'í meetings held at his house. The women became Bahá'ís and were all very active in the affairs of the Faith and were members of the early postwar Local Spiritual Assemblies. There was no enrollment system in those days but evidence shows that they became Bahá'ís in 1947. A few years later they got married, raised families and lost track of the Bahá'ís. Two of the women, Mrs. Kuwata and Mrs. Okochi, were contacted in later years, and they gave us photos and information of the early days.
Mr. Yuzo Yamaguchi
In 1952 Mr. Tameo Hongo, a Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly member, worked for the Foreign Ministry but in the evening he taught English at a school in the Kanda area. At that time many Japanese wanted to learn English. Mr. Yamaguchi was a 22-year-old office worker attending Mr. Hongo' s classes. Mr. Hongo would invite his students to a fireside at the Aoyama house of Mr. Robert Imagire. Mr. Yamaguchi said he attended several firesides at Mr. Imagire's house and that is where he met Joy and David Earl. (When Mr. Imagire left Japan in 1952 he turned over his classes to
Lt. Donald and Mrs. Mignon Witzel. Several other early Tokyo Bahá'ís attended the Witzels' classes: Miss Kotoko Mochizuki (Honma), Miss Yukiko Inatsuka (Hosoda), Miss Hisae Hiramatsu (Matsuo), Miss Yoko Majima and Mr. Shozo Kadota.)
In March 1953 Mr. Yamaguchi was very interested in becoming a Bahá'í. He said he wanted to "test" the Fast before becoming one, however. He said although it was a hard experience it went well and he wanted more than ever to become a Bahá'í. At the end of the Fast he recalls meeting the newly-arrived Iranian pioneers, the Katirai and Moghbel families, at a Naw-Rúz party at a public hall in Shinagawa.
In June 1953 Mr. Yamaguchi attended a Feast given by Lt. Col. and Mrs. John McHenry at Tachikawa and he officially became a Bahá'í. Shortly after that he met Miss Alexander at a fireside at the office of Mr. Tsuto Mori, whose family were friends of Miss Alexander. Miss Alexander provided refreshments, large strawberries with cream. Mr. Yamaguchi can clearly recall enjoying that dessert. He said that at that time ordinary Japanese were so poor that they could not afford such luxury.
Mr. Yamaguchi is one of those early Bahá'ís who have continued to be active all through the years. He was a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of Japan for many years. His wife Mitsue, and two sons, Seizo and Ryozo, became Bahá'ís. Seizo' s wife Anna also became a Bahá'í and their child is being raised in the Faith, making three generations of Bahá'ís in the Yamaguchi family.
Mr. Hiroyasu Takano
In 1952 Mr. Takano was living in Tokyo, a young employee of one of the largest electrical equipment companies in Japan. He was to go abroad to the United States (Detroit) and Germany for one year to gain experience. His ability in English was not as good as it was in German so he was looking for someone to help him brush up his English. His chief introduced him to a friend, Mr. Tameo Hongo, who happened to be a member of the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly. Mr. Hongo introduced him to Mrs. Joy Earl. Not only did Mrs. Earl help him with his English but she introduced him to a Bahá'í couple, Mr. and Mrs. Lester Long, who lived in Detroit, Michigan, with whom he stayed for seven months. The Bahá'í couple talked about the Faith and took him to Bahá'í meetings. In April 1953 there was to be the official dedication of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár in Wilmette. Mr. Takano wanted very much to attend and with that motivation he became a Bahá'í.
After he left the United States he went to Europe. Mr. Long had suggested to him that he write to the Guardian for permission to make a pilgrimage. In November 1953 permission came and in February 1954 Mr. Takano had his pilgrimage. He was the second and only other Japanese Bahá'í to meet the Guardian, Saichiro Fujita being the first. When he came back to Tokyo Mr. Takano brought the precious tapestry which had reposed over the Body of Bahá'u'lláh. It was a gift from the Guardian to the future National Hazíratu'l-Quds in Tokyo. Mr. Takano said when the Guardian spoke to him, he repeated things so as to be clearly understood. Mr. Takano said it seemed to him that the Guardian wished to convey a personal message to the
Through the years Mr. Takano has served on the Tokyo Local Spiritual Assembly and he was chairman of the National Spiritual Assembly of Japan for many years. His wife Michiko became a Bahá'í in 1957.
Mrs. Yukiko Inatsuka Hosoda and Dr. Yasuyuki Hosoda
In 1952 Mrs. Hosoda (then Miss Inatsuka) was taking a summer-session English course at Keio University where Mr. Imagire was the teacher. At the end of the class he invited the students to a tea room for socializing and he told them about the Bahá'í Faith. He invited interested people to a fireside conducted by Mr. and Mrs. Earl. Two or three people from the class went originally but Mrs. Hosoda was the only one who continued. At that time there were also firesides at Lt. and Mrs. Witzel's and Mr. Horioka' s homes which she sometimes attended.
Mrs. Hosoda had attended a Christian college. She didn't become a Christian but became knowledgeable about Christianity and she learned how to pray, which they did a lot of at the college. Her family were Buddhist; in fact, her father was a Buddhist priest. However, she said, she couldn't resist the Bahá'í Faith as she learned more about it. She declared her belief in Bahá'u'lláh in December 1953.
She met her husband at the Bahá'í Center a few years later. Dr. Hosoda' s brother, who was a friend and fellow worker of Mr. Takano, had become a Bahá'í and he recommended to his brother that he find out more about it. At that time Dr. Hosoda was still in medical school. He had attended a Bible school in his young days and could speak English and also knew about Christianity. He became a Bahá'í in November 1959. The Hosodas were married at the Bahá'í Center in 1961. For many years they lived in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.A. where Dr. Hosoda was a prominent heart surgeon. They now live in Hino, Tokyo. The four Hosoda children, all adults now, are staunch Bahá'ís. The grandchildren are being raised as Bahá'ís, making three generations of Bahá'ís in the Hosoda family.
Mrs. Kotoko Mochizuki Honma
Mrs. Honma (then Miss Mochizuki) first heard of the Faith from Lt. and Mrs. Donald Witzel, in whose home she worked in Tokyo. It was some time in late 1952 or early 1953. She recalls that the first time she met Lt. Witzel he told her of the Faith and gave her the early edition of Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era in Japanese to read. She said she could barely understand it. However, she met Bahá'ís at the Witzels' house and attended meetings. She became a Bahá'í in early 1954 and was an active member of the Local Spiritual Assembly of Tokyo from 1954 for several years. She now resides in Hachioji, Tokyo.
Mrs. Hisae Hiramatsu Matsuo
Mrs. Matsuo (then Miss Hiramatsu) was working at the U.S. Army Supply Depot in Tokyo. Mrs. Hosoda, who was already a Bahá'í, was also working there and she
took Mrs. Matsuo to a Bahá'í meeting at the home of one of the foreign Bahá'ís (she couldn't recall whose home). She attended meetings and in April 1954 enrolled as a member of the Bahá'í Faith. When we asked her what attracted her to the Faith she answered "everything." Mrs. Matsuo married and moved to Nagasaki where she has been an active member of the community.
Mr. Haruo Nekomoto
In 1952 Mr. Nekomoto was a student at Meiji University. Mr. David Earl was a lecturer on the subject of political science, in English. The class started out quite large but as the English was difficult most of the students dropped out until there were only five or six left. They all became very well acquainted and sometimes went out for coffee after class. The students asked Mr. Earl why he came to Japan. He took them to Bahá'í meetings as an answer. Mr. Nekomoto was the only one who sustained an interest in the Faith. He said he became attracted to the qualities of the Bahá'ís he met and he mentioned Mr. Earl, Mr. Marangella, Mr. Bernard Leach, Mr. Rafaat, Mrs. Furukawa and Miss Lecile Webster. He became a Bahá'í in September 1954. Some years later he married. His wife and two sons are Bahá'ís.
Mr. Shigenobu Sakaguchi
Mr. Sakaguchi was one of the active Bahá'ís during the time he lived in Tokyo; for about five years from 1957. However, he hadn't become a Bahá'í in Tokyo. He lived in Osaka and enrolled as a Bahá'í in Mr. Hassan Naderi's house in Osaka in 1956, after being introduced to the Faith by Mr. Hishmat Vahdat. Mr. Naderi and Mr. Vahdat were Iranian pioneers.
Mr. Sakaguchi moved to Tokyo to attend Waseda University. During those days he often came to the Bahá'í Center and deepened in his knowledge of the Faith. He donated the book Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era (in Japanese) to the university library. After graduating he moved back to the Kansai area. His wife and daughter have also become Bahá'ís.
Mrs. Chiyo Sato Suzuki and Dr. Toshio Suzuki
Mrs. Suzuki (then Miss Sato) enrolled in an English course at the Lutheran English School to improve her job qualifications. One of the teachers was Mrs. Hosoda (then Miss Inatsuka). The two women became friends and Mrs. Hosoda took her to the Bahá'í Center sometime in the late 1950s.
Mrs. Suzuki attended meetings and deepening classes. She said she had a special feeling about the Faith; that it was different from other religions and she quite agreed with the concept of progressive revelation. She became a Bahá'í November 20, 1959. Mrs. Suzuki met her husband at the Bahá'í Center in the early 1960s and they were married there in 1964. Dr. Suzuki was the National Spiritual Assembly secretary for many years, before being appointed to the Auxiliary Board. Dr. Suzuki's brother, Hideya, was the first Japanese Counsellor. The two brothers had originally attended
Mrs. Muriel Snay's fireside at the Yokosuka U.S. Naval Base where she was an elementary school teacher. They said they went mainly to improve their English but soon became interested in the Faith. They later moved to Tokyo where they became Bahá'ís in January 1963. Dr. Suzuki's parents also became Bahá'ís as did his daughters, Rieko and Mieko, and several of Mrs. Suzuki's relatives. With the birth of Rieko's son the Suzuki line of Bahá'ís is now in the fourth generation.
Mr. Hideyasu Takashima
Mr. Takashima met David and Joy Earl in August 1957. The Earls rented a house from Mr. Takashima's father and Mr. Takashima collected the rent each month. Joy Earl invited him to her weekly fireside and he attended from September. He was attracted to the Earls and to the Teachings of the Faith. After studying and attending meetings for almost two years, in May 1959 Mr. Takashima officially became a Bahá'í and has been an active member of the Tokyo community ever since. Mr. Takashima's wife, Katsuko, became a Bahá'í in 1965.
Mrs. Ayako Ogi (1897-1986)
Mrs. Ogi was a lovely lady of 61 when she became a Bahá'í in Tokyo in 1959. She was an active member of the community and in October 1964 she made a two-week trip to Korea for the purpose of teaching - the first Japanese Bahá'í to do so. She had lived in Korea with her husband, a Japanese judge, in the early years of their marriage and she now wanted to meet the Koreans on another level. She spoke about the Faith at a United Nations Day meeting and at several Bahá'í firesides in Korea.
Mr. Robert Takeshi Imagire
Mr. Imagire, an American by birth but of Japanese ancestry, became a Bahá'í December 30, 1942 in Reno, Nevada, U.S.A., where he had been attending Mrs. Florence Mayberry's firesides and met Mr. and Mrs. Leroy loas and Mr. and Mrs. William Sears, who came to Reno during the weekends to help with the teaching. At that time Nevada was the only state in the U.S. which didn't have a Local Spiritual Assembly. Mr. Imagire's declaration made it possible to elect an LSA there the following Ridván.
In 1946 Mr. Imagire felt compelled to quit his job as an illustrator for an advertising agency in Chicago and go pioneering to one of the goal areas of the Guardian's Second Seven Year Plan (1946-1953). He had a job lined up in Bogota, Colombia but his parents expressed reservations about his giving up a good job at the ad agency, particularly as such jobs were hard to come by for Asian-Americans in those days. At Mrs. Dorothy Baker's suggestion he wrote Shoghi Effendi for advice. The Guardian advised him to go instead to Japan. When Mr. Imagire' s parents heard that their son wished to go to the "mother country" their reservations melted.
Mr. Imagire, the first postwar pioneer in Japan, arrived in August 1947, and after one trip home February 1953 to March 1954, he left permanently in 1955. More
recently he has been pioneering to the Cook Islands in response to the call of the Universal House of Justice to activate the areas along the spiritual axis between Japan and the Antipodes.
Issues of Star of the East
Various issues of the Japanese Bahá'í Geppo (Monthly News)
The Bahá'í World volumes
Unpublished letters held in the National Bahá'í Archives of the United States
History of the Bahá'í Faith in Japan 1914-1938 by Agnes B. Alexander
Traces That Remain by Barbara R. Sims
Japan Will Turn Ablaze! compiled by Barbara R. Sims