Lodge Hiogo & Osaka No. 498 
Foundation of Masonic Hall 1871
Extract from the Grand Lodge of Scotland’s Reporter for July 1872.
(The Date of the Ceremony being 16th February, 1871)
Lodge “Hiogo, and Osaka,” No. 498—Laying Foundation Stone of the Masonic Hall—The ceremony of Laying the Corner Stone of the Masonic Hall took place on Saturday last, and proved in every way a complete success. The brethren met in their Lodge Room at 5 p.m., and punctual to time, the Lodge was opened in due form.
The business for which the Lodge met was at once gone into, and Brother Abell, who had been appointed Marshal, seemed well up in his duties. The following was the order of procession:
- Visiting Brethren.
- Junior Members.
- Treasurer with Coins and Records.
- Stewards with Corn, Oil, and Wine.
- Officers of the Lodge.
- R.W.M. and P.M.s Kinder and England.
On reaching the building site, the double column was told off into single files—one going on the east, the other on the west, side of the temporary platform, on which we were pleased to notice several ladies were seated. The office-bearers having taken their positions in the centre, the Stone was laid by Brother P.M. Kinder, in ancient and masonic form, a bottle containing—The Local Papers, History of the Lodge, Lodge Laws and Bye-Laws, Contributions of Coins, being placed beneath it. The ceremony over, Brother P.M. Kinder said “Right Worshipful Master of the Lodge Hiogo and Osaka, No. 498, S.C., and Brethren, after the ceremony at which we have just assisted, I must be permitted to detain you for a few minutes longer, although, from the lateness of the hour, my observations will be necessarily brief. Three and a half years ago, the spot on which this town now stands was a barren waste, untrodden by the foreigner, and it is wonderful, in so limited a space of time, the beautiful settlement which now surrounds us should have sprung into existence. Should Kobe progress as rapidly during the next ten years it will indeed be a city of no mean pretensions, and of great commercial importance. All that has thus happened here must be a source of pride to each foreign resident, but how much deeper the feeling on the part of the masonic community, and how much more astonishing that we Masons should be this day assembled to lay the Foundation Stone of a splendid Temple. All honour, then, not only to the Craft, but more especially to those few pioneers of Freemasonry who have crowned every difficulty and obstacle with such success. They, at any rate, have performed their self-imposed task with zeal and fidelity. Were aught else wanting to show the feeling for good which the practice of masonry imparts, the history of Freemasonry in Kobe might be taken as a fitting illustration. Such public proofs of the inherent principles of Freemasonry are of the highest value, and while our ‘secrets’ may form but the out-works of the system, the world will judge us by our acts.
“I have this day inspected the plans of the intended structure, and whilst congratulating the Masons of this Lodge on the prospects of shortly possessing one of the finest Lodge-Rooms in the world, I most heartily compliment the architect, our Brother Hart, on his unqualified success, and for the perfect manner in which the drawings and plans have been executed. The non-masonic residents here will have cause also for congratulation, as the Masonic Hall will far exceed in beauty all other buildings, and be an elegant addition to the future city.
“The rapid progress of events in this country, the avidity with which European and Foreign improvements are being introduced in arts and manufactures-the spirit, in fact, which pervades the Japanese Government at the present time-all tend to great results. We hear only as yet of the unbounded mineral resources of the interior of the country, but let us hope the day is not far distant when the foreigner may be free to penetrate to any part of this promising land. Then commerce will receive increasing impulse, and Japan will probably become the great and important Empire its well-wishers’ desire. Amongst other improvements which may be introduced, even our royal art of masonry may find a welcome home amongst the Japanese themselves.
“The introduction of Freemasonry into Japan rendered the masonic belief beyond a doubt-that on it ‘the sun never sets.’ The Masonic circuit most certainly received its finishing touch on the first establishment of a Lodge in Yokohama.
“I will not detain you longer than to thank the Right Worshipful Master and all the Officers and Brethren here present for their kind assistance at this important ceremony. For the great honour conferred on myself, I also thank you. Believe me it is a source of great gratification to have been permitted to officiate on this occasion, but the gratification is seasoned with regret that the duty has not been placed in more able hands. It is a subject for regret that time would not admit of your obtaining, for such an important ceremonial, the presence of our Right Worshipful Brother Murray, the District Grand Master for China.”
The R.W.M. then thanked all who had taken part in the ceremony, and expressed his hope that Masonry would continue to flourish in the same degree as it had hitherto flourished at this port.
The procession then returned, when the Lodge was duly closed, Brethren being reminded that the Banquet in commemoration of the event would be held at 7 p.m. at the Oriental Hotel.