Lodge 640 History [18]

Then and Now

A definitive history of Lodge Star in the East will probably never be written. Most of the lodge's records and documents were lost in the Great Earthquake of 1923, when the Masonic Hall at Yamashitacho 61 was reduced to rubble. Although several of the lodge's most important papers were smuggled out of Japan at the outbreak of the Pacific War, many more were lost. For reasons that remain conspicuously unclear, all post-War records were packed in boxes and 'donated' to the Grand Lodge of Scotland during the move from the old Bluff Temple to the YIS Temple.

The historical material on this website was pieced together from fragments of information scattered here and there, and will almost certainly need to be revised as fresh information comes to light.

We can, however, glean a number of interesting statistics that may help to put the lodge's 135 years of history in perspective.

The lodge's Roll of Members, reconstructed with the help of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, records 1,081 names. Of these, 758 were initiated by Lodge Star in the East and 293 affiliated from other lodges. Of the 758 who received the first or Entered Apprentice degree, 714 went on to receive the second or Fellowcraft degree and 703 were raised to the third or Master Mason degree.

Lodge Star in the East carried out its first Initiation on October 14, 1879, only one month after its foundation. The first Second Degree was conducted on December 23, 1879, and the first Third Degree on January 3, 1880.

The youngest brethren initiated were 18 years old at the time, and the oldest were 70. The average age at initiation was 36.

The lodge did not start working the Mark Master Degree until October 26, 1920, when seven brethren were marked. Since that date the lodge has marked 273 brethren.

During the lodge's 135 years of active labour, 88 brethren have borne the office of Master of the Lodge, some of them more than once. One brother held the office 5 times, two held it 4 times, four held it 3 times and twenty-six held it 2 times.

The lodge has drawn its membership from a wide variety of professions, by far the best represented being US military personnel—a consequence of the flood of applications received in the immediate post-War years. The lodge's Roll Book lists no less than 170 US Army members, 27 US Navy members, and 5 USAF members. Of the non-military professions, the largest represented is that of Merchant (125 members), followed by Engineer (57 members), an indication of Yokohama's importance as a centre of maritime commerce.

The lodge has held meetings in 15 different locations, including ship's cabins, restaurants, offices, and the Tokyo Masonic Center. It has occupied five permanent temple buildings in Yokohama.

Initiation fees and lodge dues have changed markedly over the years. In 1902 the initiation fee was ¥100 and the annual dues were ¥24. A hundred years later the equivalent sums were ¥60,000 and ¥10,000 respectively.

One thing that has not changed is the day of the lodge's regular meeting. For 133 years the brethren of Lodge Star in the East have met on the second Tuesday of each month, the summer months of July and August excepted.

As of December 2011 the lodge has 64 members, the majority living outside of Yokohama or abroad. Although attendance has been somewhat variable in recent years, the number of initiations and affiliations has kept pace with deaths and demits, and overall membership figures have remained steady.