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TAGS: Abdul-Baha, Life of (documents); Abdul-Baha, Travels of (documents); Interviews; Sachiro Fujita
LOCATIONS: Haifa; Japan; United States (documents)
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Interview of Fugita-san by Sylvia Ioas during John McHenry's pilgrimage in December, 1975 at McHenry's request.
Transcription verified by Robert Stauffer by consulting original recording of interview, in 2001.

This is a "Pilgrim's note," an individual's recollection of statements and actions of the Central figures. They are subjective and not authoritative. See an overview of Pilgrim's Notes.

Interview of Sachiro Fujita

by Sylvia Ioas

Note: Sachiro Fujita was born in Yanai, Japan, April 15, 1886, and died in Haifa May 7, 1976.
He is buried at the Bahá'í cemetery at the foot of Mt. Carmel.
The following is inscribed atop his grave (from a photo taken by Robert Stauffer in 1978):

"Thou wilt render a great service
and this will become the cause of
thy everlasting glory."
    — Abdu'l-Bahá
Mount Carmel, November 24th, 1965.

Would you like to know something about my life? I, I left Japan 1903, and, ah, landed in San Francisco November 9th, 1903, and, ah, remained in San Francisco about a year. Then I happened to meet Mrs. Kathryn Frankland in Oakland. There I received Message, Bahá'í Message.

("You were how old?")

About 17. In Oakland about 5 years. I finished my, ah, high school in California, then I went from there to Cleveland, Ohio. From there I, ah, wish to attend, ah, University of Michigan, but, ah, 1912, `Abdu'l-Bahá came to United States. From, uh, then I went to Chicago to meet Him. That's when really my Bahá'í, ah, life began. I was in Cleveland, Ohio, there was a Bahá'í, Doctor Barton-Peek. She informed me `Abdu'l-Bahá in Cleveland, and I was away. I didn't get the message the next morning. Then, immediately, I went Doctor Barton-Peek's office. I ask, message just received, I can call or not. She says, "Well, too bad that `Abdu'l-Bahá just left." I says, "Well, I'm very sorry I was away, I couldn't meet Him. When can I make contact with `Abdu'l-Bahá?" Says, "The best thing is you can wire to Mr. Windust in Chicago, maybe he will tell you just when to come to Chicago." So immediately, I wired to Mr. Windust, he says he's waiting for any time for arrival of `Abdu'l-Bahá. So, I took opportunity, I went to Chicago.

About 8 o'clock in the evening He arrive in Chicago. He was very nice. At the front of LaSalle Station, embrace me, "My Japanese." And then, He says, "You follow Me." He is going to, ah, Mrs. True's home. He give a lecture. We had a wonderful time in Mrs. True's home. From there to Kenosha, I went Kenosha, you know? There's some Bahá'í there. `Abdu'l-Bahá spend overnight. That's where `Abdu'l-Bahá asked me to join His party to go to California.

I received Tablet in 1905. I had received Message 1904, but actually Bahá'í since I received the Tablet, the first Tablet, of `Abdu'l-Bahá. It's published in Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá.

One day `Abdu'l-Bahá asked me, "Would you like to go to California?" I said, "certainly". Can you leave my work? I said, "yes." I went back to Cleveland and, ah, took leave, went to California with `Abdu'l-Bahá's party.

On the way we made many stop. First of all St. Paul, Minneapolis, Denver, Colorado, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Jenabi Ali-Akbar and, ah, Doctor Farid, Ahmad Sohrab, and, ah, Mirza Mahmud, we are all together, six in the party.

On the way to Colorado, Denver, Colorado, we stopped in the hot spring -- Glenwood Springs. We had a very nice time! Spent one day in, ah, Hotel, ah, Glenwood.

He got so tired. He says He want to go to bath. We had the hot spring there, yeah. And He went and all of us, "Lets go to have a good walk." Then He stay in the hot springs longer than anybody else. And when He come out, He call me, "Give Me massage." "Give Me massage." Relaxed. Slept hours! Then after we had rested, and then we went back to hotel.

Then, ah, by time of dinner, they didn't set, and, ah, they were set for five. `Abdu'l-Bahá went and He said, "Why, that? We have six in the party!" And the waiter said, "Well, he is your servant." "That doesn't matter. Make another place. It doesn't make any difference whether servant, or different color. We are all one. He would sit there, and Fujita come here." It was so beautiful. And all the Persians, five of 'em, around. And so, then the waiter was very much surprised.

He gave us permission, so we took walk around the city. And on the way back I saw a little shop, with a great big watermelon, ripe, red. So, I, myself, like watermelon, so I bought it and carried big watermelon like this, and when I brought home to `Abdu'l-Bahá, sitting He watch me, "What do you got there?" He says. I said, "I have watermelon."
"All right, come!" Immediately, He put His hand in the center of the watermelon and started eating. "Wait, `Abdu'l-Bahá, I want to bring you a knife and a fork!" "No, never mind." I was glad. And then we had to share with all Bahá'ís. And then at midnight we took train, at midnight. Always midnight. Hard times. Then we went, ah, Glenwood Springs. Stop off there one night.

Salt Lake City! After the horticulture show. We walked down to the street. There, the street was lined up with people, and, ah, there was gonna be a parade of, ah, celebration. We didn't know anything about it. "Come." Walked right in the center of the street, and on the car line, six of us, He is ahead, like this. All the people lined up and thought, "Head of the procession is coming down". We didn't say anything, "Where you been?", I said "I'm going back to hotel." Hotel is way down that street. And He came down, walk, walk, walk. And, ah, now, the parade is going on, we go to restaurant have something to eat.

That day we went Mormon Church. Can't get in. In the morning we went. Strange thing, they don't let us in. Then, so, instead of that, we went horticulture exhibition. Then `Abdu'l-Bahá said "This Salt Lake City is beautiful, but spiritually dead." But the horticulture exhibition He enjoyed. He walked, walked, walked, and collect all the seeds He going to buy, and give to gardener.

From Salt Lake City to San Francisco, it took us many hours to go to Oakland. My goodness! Long ride in America. We were so tired. That's why usually stop off and go into hotel to have a rest overnight. Hard journey, on the train, coaches, wooden benches. Sacrifice for us every way. Even when we stop in a hotel, nobody come to call on us. But newspaper reporters always come and they get some new ideas of `Abdu'l-Bahá. He gave nice talk.

`Abdu'l-Bahá was so spiritually attractive, you know. You know, that `Abdu'l-Bahá, ah, give a talk in San Francisco, Stanford, also, visited Mrs. Hearst's newspaper. And then we remain in Mrs. Goodall's home for a couple nights. Then, `Abdu'l-Bahá wished to get a little apartment in San Francisco. We stay month because too many people, were always so many people, `Abdu'l-Bahá don't want to impose upon on Mrs. Goodall's home. That night, `Abdu'l-Bahá was very much disturbed when we reached San Francisco. `Abdu'l-Bahá said, called Ahmad Sohrab, "You go direct back to Mrs. Goodall." "But it's midnight, there's no boat that go back." "Never mind, you go back." He forced him to go back. And when he got back, we were at the apartment, waiting for him to return. He came way midnight, I mean after, ah, early in the morning. He said, "There is no cane". Usually `Abdu'l-Bahá used to carry a cane. He happened to left the cane on dresser, I think. `Abdu'l-Bahá said "Where leaved it?" Then ever since He had to, ah, write "`Abdu'l-Bahá Abbas" on, ah, any correspondence. No seal.

Then from there, back to Chicago. `Abdu'l-Bahá wished to take me with Him. He had so many party waiting in New York, so wait until He would send for me. Mrs. True asked `Abdu'l-Bahá, "Mr. Fujita have a home." And then `Abdu'l-Bahá was very pleased, "that's very good," so I stayed with Mrs. True's home seven years. So I knew all, Edna, and Dr. True. `Abdu'l-Bahá want, He says I should study first of all electricity and horticulture, many instruction, practical knowledge. `Abdu'l-Bahá wished me to come to Holy Land very early. But war broke out 1914, so I remained until war is over. `Abdu'l-Bahá sent for me, 1919, I was able to come to Holy Land.

You know, in Chicago, when `Abdu'l-Bahá dedicated the Temple, laid the foundation stone, first garden, around the side, made a nice little garden, circle garden. We used to go out there for picnic grounds, you know. It's pretty, was a wild place. Now it's a wonderful Temple grounds. I like to see it someday.

I met Mr. Ioas in Chicago, 1912. I know Mr. Ioas' father and mother very well. They were already Bahá'í. We used to gather in, ah, western Chicago. Mrs. True's home, different places. Mary Lesch, and Mr. Windust and Sheffler. I used to go to Mr. Windust's printing office and help, ah, Gertrude Buikema, help her with "Star of the West." In America, I'm very active. Can listen, we used to have nice dinner, after the meeting. Now, those days! It was wonderful in Chicago, 1911, 1912. 1911, I was in Cleveland, Ohio. But in 1912 went to Chicago. Those days, you know, very few Bahá'ís. Now there are so many! Only handful, used to be, even no Assemblies. Most of Bahá'ís in either New York, Chicago. Now they are all over the United States. Well, same way with Japan. There is only a handful now, they eventually, many will become Bahá'í.

Then I, ah, had instruction `Abdu'l-Bahá, to "Fujita should come to Holy Land in way of Atlantic." New York to, ah, Europe. Ita, ah, Naples. I stay in, ah, Naples long, one month to get my visa. Difficult in coming to Haifa. Because I wire to `Abdu'l-Bahá, "I'm returning," then through `Abdu'l-Bahá, so Lord Allenby wired to consulate in Rome issue the passp, the visa, arrived in Haifa.

Oh! He was so happy! There is many Persian believers wait, there standing, and He was walking in the garden, up and down, you know. It was early in the morning, when that, 9, about 9 o'clock. Usually `Abdu'l-Bahá take a little walk up and down, visit the pilgrims. Mostly Persian pilgrims those days, early time. Then, from there `Abdu'l-Bahá said "Come on, I will introduce you to My family." Then I went in Greatest Holy Leaf's room and met all the ladies of the Household ever since they are in Haifa. Although I haven't served very much, you see I stayed with `Abdu'l-Bahá, ah, two years. I used to go around everywhere. Always He ask me to go with Him. Even on the Christmas Day, we have a little church here, behind the Master's house, we call on them. Have taken a picture too, with Master and ah, minister and myself. Once we have a walk up to the, I mean, a drive up to the college, up to top of mountain. There used to be a German hospice and, ah, we had a key and looking over, I says, "`Abdu'l-Bahá, this is a wonderful place, and, I like have such a place like this." "What?" he said, "You small man, you want a big house like this? Little chicken coop is good enough for you!" He laughed, and then He said "Never mind, in the future you will have the best place in the world."

And, ah, He wanted to go to Jerusalem but He became sick and, ah, passed away. He had planned to go, pay a visit to High Commissioner, Lord Allenby, He told me that. Yes, we made many trips, all round here. Even, ah, He took me to mosque. He usually go every Friday morning, before He passed away. I don't know how to pray, but Muslim, yeah, the notables from Haifa. (laughter) Many things happen.

During time of Master, He was not much organized. He is more of a free. Many pilgrims come here and visit Him. Some of them stay quite many days. `Abdu'l-Bahá like to make friend with all communities. Went once to the nun's convent. We used to call. Went to Tiberias. He always stay in Mrs. Grossman's hotel, and, ah, He had a special room, on the top of the roof. He used to enjoy it very much. Used to go then from there He used to go to Ti.., ah, his farm near `Adasiyyih, that's where He raised wheat, and distributed it among the people, poor people, during the war. From `Adasiyyih, those, ah, believers there, they send them over, bring them over here, Haifa, and He distribute it to all the poors here. Those were the days of, ah, very, ah, scarcity of food in Haifa.

The British government acknowledged and knighted `Abdu'l-Bahá. We went to the day of knighted. He didn't go direct to front of the gate, no, He went in car, no. I waited for car, but He won't take it, no, Isfandiyar to carriage had to run. Beautiful lesson I learn. Many things. Those little, touch, little things, just walking on the street here, always have some significances. The garden near ( ) has two olive tree, big trees, yeah. He used to sit down there, used to be not so smooth, but big rock, He sit there, and, ah, all the people passing Him by, He give a few piasters each. Friday after mosque, at the gate, everybody waiting for His arrival, always handout, when He had run all out, and ask for little change. So I always have few small coins.

We used to go to, ah, the Mansion Bahji, in Pilgrim House, where Mrs. ah, Mrs. Ward is there, there is a one room there, and many, ah, pilgrims. We had one side where now Mrs. Ward's living room, that used to be our pilgrim room. There nothing but a mat and, ah, sleep there, there used to be some platform there, so couple of us sleep and some one down on the floor, and the Master to the one room. Early in morning He used to chant. Oh, that's a wonderful, wonderful place! Early in the morning. Himself. Sometimes He go to over there, ( ), all depend on His affair. You see, there many notable call on Him from Abu-Sinan. There's a little Druze village there. They come down, we had to entertain them sometimes from the Akka.

Garden of Ridvan is the most wonderful place to be. I love it! Those days, time of `Abdu'l-Bahá. You know, Feast of Ridvan, we used to go over there and have a luncheon, eat there. Caretakers used to give us, ah, nice tea and we come back in the afternoon. Whole island and garden and there's a big water (pump), donkey go round, and, ah, raise the water, like a windmill. We go. ( ) today. Big ( ) today, now. And beyond it is a little platform they built, and the donkey it used to carry, go around, go around, and go around, without stopping for hours, and that watered the whole garden. Used to be nice platform, and step, and the water go round, and we used to wash our hand, and, and yes, yes, now everything filled up with those ( ).

Abu-Sinan, Druze, `Abdu'l-Bahá used to go over there, visit the Shaykh. We used to go up there and, ah, remain the day, then come home. There's a few hours ride. Every, ah, Sunday our meeting day, we used to first have a meeting in the Pilgrim House, `Abdu'l-Bahá, ah, visit with `Abdu'l-Bahá, and after the, ah, tea and the sweets is served, then visit the Shrine. Sometimes He chant, sometimes He, ah, ask one of the believers have a very good, sweet voice, would chant. Ladies go in the one side, and the gentlemen the other side. Those days it was different. Now we are more mixed.

Bahji, when we have a certain, ah, Feast day, Birthday of Bahá'u'lláh, we used to go over there. I have a wonderful Feast, any Feast in, ah, at the Pilgrim House, central room. `Abdu'l-Bahá, very generous, very kind.

Then Mrs. Emogene Hoagg -- she stayed a month there! That little house, little sitting room, top of the stables, garage. Yes! Isfandiyar used to keep two, three horses, and the carriage, and he sleep in there, all his life, and at last he moved to Number 7, to back room, where I sleep in the room now, of course. `Abdu'l-Bahá, every morning, right after tea -- He had tea -- and He go up and dictate Tablet. All the correspondence, till, oh, oh, nearly noon. He had a secretary like Ali-Kuli Khan and some other, ah, secretary, and, ah, then when He finished the important correspondence He would visit the pilgrims. All the Persian pilgrims waiting down below, near the, that, ah, avenue there, hoping see `Abdu'l-Bahá. Then He called individuals. I think about, oh, sometimes, oh, 40 all depends on pilgrims, you see, yeah, 40, we had many Bahá'ís around Haifa and Nazareth, Tiberias, and `Adasiyyih. They all come, and Akka. Oh yes! Forty, fifty, a hundred, sometime. ("With children?") Oh, yes! Big group, ah, group of believers, adult and children all together. So we had a very big meeting. Oh, yes, Master's presence everybody very reserved, and one or two He appointed someone to chant. Just one; one chanting. Then they go to Shrine.

When I arrived from America to Haifa, first day, soon after visiting all the pilgrims, you know, `Abdu'l-Bahá motioned me to come, to go to see the Greatest Holy Leaf's room. "Now," He says, "I want you to acquainted with Family. Member of the Family, and make yourself at home." That's one the touching privilege I have had. Greatest Holy Leaf used to supervise the kitchen. She supervise everything! She is wonderful! The way she go about. All the family used to have tea with `Abdu'l. Oh, very early. Very early. And in the Greatest Holy Leaf's room. Oh yes. I used to go there, have tea, and she ask someone to chant and dispersed, and go back to work. Edna True used to stay here for some month, she used to visiting. From that little house, Pilgrim House, it used to be, we go over there, have tea. Then we have big breakfast at the Pilgrim House. Sometimes there's some pilgrims go after having taken tea, go up to visit the Shrine, and come down for breakfast.

Yes, `Abdu'l-Bahá was very, very kind to me. We had many trips, many jokes. I used to grow my beard, you know. He play with it! I had my beard first time I went to back to Japan, 1936, I come back with beard. Then I was working out in the garden, and everybody look, make fun of me, so I asked the Guardian, "You don't mind I shave my beard, do you?" He said, "Why not?"

Shoghi Effendi used to play in American University, spring, summer, he used to come down, come home for holiday. We used to play tennis down below here. And, some of the grandchildren of `Abdu'l-Bahá used to play down here. Especially I made tennis court. All that now garden, is shape of tennis court. That's a year's work.

And this house, when they built, I build the foundation on. They give me that big cistern back there, carrying all dirt out in the street, level it, even tennis court, I laid down. Those days I was a little stronger. Carried a basket with dirt. Of course we had many laborers, you know. This place is just nothing but a hill, a rocky hill, excavated, leveled, it's just like mountain, making garden.

Yes. `Abdu'l-Bahá used to walk right on that main, little street, used to be narrow like this. I used to level it, widen. He used to walk from little house, up there. I was cleaning, smoothing and laugh, I was working, I mean, leveling, working hard, making a path, road for easy to walk. He used to take walk right around here, up to the German colony here, a couple block, and then come home.

You know, before `Abdu'l-Bahá passing away, it was on a Friday, we went visit the mosque in Haifa, Friday morning. That day return from mosque, He had to walk up the step. He says "I am tired," went into the room. Then Friday, Saturday, Sunday! Three days. Sunday night, He passed away. Those days we had many American pilgrims there. That Mr. and Mrs. Hoagg, Boschs were there. I heard the cry, deafening noise. So immediately I went up this gate, there's many collected and mourning, the Eastern believers very demonstrative, you know. I said "What is it?" "It's `Abdu'l-Bahá has passed." So immediately I come back to Pilgrim House, informed them. And some of them come out, come now. That day. It's one o'clock, and all the family are all together there. Can't help. Doctor just left, Dr. Habib, that Christian Arab, that's their family doctor. Then from that room we had after few days, the day in Mount Carmel. I went there myself, making a place. ( ) called, ah, Ramatullah, he's very strong man, he carried casket way down. Ramatullah lived a long time ago, he was caretaker, gardener, very nice man. He had a big family, but years ago.

All the notables from Haifa and Jerusalem, all were collected here, ah, for funeral. Even Herbert Samuel, walked right up, passing Master. Just out from this room, Number seven, and go around, Rahmatu'llah turn corner, in front of center of church, then go up, up, up, up, up to the Shrine. Everybody carrying casket up to the resting-place. Then up memorial day, we had biggest service here in Number seven. Then we had biggest dinner, luncheon served in, ah, Number nine. That one of the daughter's family, Ruha Khanum.

Will of, ah, `Abdu'l-Bahá read in Number seven. In the center of the hall! That room! Oh, we had the biggest, ah, meeting there. All sitting on floor. A prominent Bahá'í, from Egypt, he read the Will, right in the corner, and everybody faced, and everybody sat around, even the Nakazeen, some of the Nakazeen was among us, violator. Very touching ceremony. Oh, from early in morning, we had a meeting, ah, to go some time, to circulate all the Will of `Abdu'l-Bahá. Every time mention, ah, Shoghi Effendi's name, everybody arise. Very respectable, very. That's why the Shoghi Effendi is be Guardian of the Cause. That day. ( ) family, back in that tea room now. See, the gentlemen and the ladies are all segregated. They know, behind the curtain, they all know. The Will of `Abdu'l-Bahá was read, everybody consented, Shoghi Effendi is the Guardian of the Cause. That's final, nobody object, and then after the passing `Abdu'l-Bahá, the reign of Guardian, Shoghi Effendi.

I stayed many years. You know, even all family close to `Abdu'l-Bahá is all gone. No Bahá'ís here, used to be whole street was Bahá'ís here. Only few family here in Haifa. I'm still here. I went back to Japan on leave, 1936. I stayed in Japan three months, and then I come back. In 1938, Shoghi Effendi said "You go back to Japan. War is coming." Then I stayed in Japan from 38 to 55. Yes, 17 years I was in Japan. During all war. You see, I couldn't come back here before. Very difficult to get the passage, visa, passport. Yes, ever since then I am here. Nearly 50 years!

And, Shoghi Effendi gave me that piece of land on Mount Carmel to develop. Right above the Archive Building, little group of pine trees there. I started work very hard. Before Guardian passed away, I created, cleaned every afternoon we was together up the mountain. He come up to where I am working, he come up every afternoon, to see. He see, wonderful sight, ah, place to observe what's going on in the garden - developing, watching. He wanted to develop the other side of the Archives, but suddenly didn't finish it. Eventually the House of Justice develop. He want to finish everything. He couldn't finish it. Beautifully, side of Archive Building. It's not detached yet. From 4 o'clock on, come up. He usually drive up and then walk down. Used to be no steps, wide, just a mountain path. Then until sunset, visit the Shrine, he come home have dinner. He like to walk very much. He used to have dinner here with the pilgrims. Yes, he works very hard. I miss him very much. Guardian, we're too busy. He works day and night. I messenger boy, up and down, up and down the stairs. He was very kind to me. He trusted me, so I am able to stay here a long time (laugh), so long, I don't know.

That's brief story of my Bahá'í life. I don't know, I haven't served anything very particular. But, I'm able to stay here so many years. Maybe good thing for Japan, sometimes I think of it.

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