Traces That Remain:
A Pictorial History of the Early Days of the Bahá'í Faith among the Japanese
19. Mr. Tokujiro Torii
Miss Alexander met Mr. Torii in 1915 when he was a student at the Government
School for the Blind. The next year he graduated and was married. He then
accepted a teaching post in a small school for the blind in Ejiri, Shizuoka
Prefecture. He invited Miss Alexander to visit there and for several days she
read to and taught the blind of the Faith. One blind gentleman, Mr. Kyotaro
Nakamura, who had spent some time in England, translated for her. He was editor
of the only religious journal for the blind in Japan. He asked if she would
write an article for the blind women of Japan, who, as he said, had a double
darkness, of spirit and body, as nothing had been done for them. She wrote the
article in the form of a letter to the blind women telling them of the hope and
joy they would find in the Bahá'í Message. Mr. Nakamura translated this article
into Japanese Braille and it was sent out. This Braille pamphlet was the first
of the Bahá'í Teachings to be circulated among the blind in Japan.
Miss Alexander with Mr. and Mrs. Torii and Mr. Tanaka (left), in
Mr. Torii was the first among the blind in Japan to learn Esperanto.
In the beginning he and Miss Alexander corresponded in Esperanto and sometimes
Esperanto Braille, which she could read and write.
Miss Alexander wrote, "When I first met this blind brother I felt his spirit
was reaching for the Light." He accepted the Faith almost immediately upon
hearing of it. He wrote to 'Abdu'l-Bahá twice — first in Esperanto and later in
English, which he had been studying. 'Abdu'l-Bahá favored him with two Tablets,
in one addressing him "0 thou possessor of a seeing heart!" He told Mr. Torii,
"Bodily sight is subject to a thousand maladies and ultimately and assuredly
will be obscured... But the sight of the heart is illumined . . . everlasting
Mr. Torii did vast service for the Faith through the years and translated many
of the Writings into Japanese Braille. Much later as president of the Blind
Association, he often referred to or wrote about the Faith. In 1966 at the age
of seventy-two, Mr. Torii received the nation's highest honor, an Imperial
Citation, the Medal of the Third Order, for his work on behalf of the blind.
Mr. and Mrs. Tokujiro Torii in 1966. He is wearing his Imperial