Lodge Hiogo & Osaka No. 498 [2]

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Outline History

Lodge Hiogo & Osaka is the oldest surviving Masonic Lodge in Japan. The petition for its Charter is dated 8th November 1869 and it was supported and endorsed by the Masters of

Individual petitioners included one from Sphinx Lodge No. 263 I.C. The Charter of this military lodge had been issued on 6th October 1860 to the 2nd Battalion, 20th Regiment of Foot (Lancashire Fusiliers). The main body of this battalion did not arrive in Japan until 1864 but it is possible that some members arrived earlier from Hongkong for guard duty at the British Legation in consequence of the attack on it in 1861. The Legation had been established in 1859 under Rutherford Alcock and in the same year the ports of Nagasaki, Hakodate and Yokohama were opened. It would seem that Sphinx Lodge admitted some civilian members of whom the petitioner, Bro. Blackmore was one.

There were also two petitioners from Yokohama Lodge No. 1092 E.C., the first Lodge to be constituted in Japan (1866).

There was another petitioner from “Les Amis Bienfaisants” (Haute Savoie) about which Lodge the writer has been unable to obtain any information.

Pending the granting of a regular Charter for Erection, a Working Warrant was issued by Grand Committee on the 28th January 1870, the regular Charter being signed by the Grand Master Mason, the Earl of Dalhousie on 7th February 1870.

The Lodge was inaugurated and consecrated by Bro. Charles Melville Donaldson, (P.M. of Glasgow Lodge of Instruction and five times Master of Lodge Cosmopolitan, No. 428 Shanghai) on Saturday, 14th May 1870 at the Lodge Room, International Club, 79, Kyo-Machi.

This was two years, four months and two weeks after Hiogo and Osaka were first opened to foreigners, the opening having taken place on New Year’s Day, 1868.

At the ancient port city of Hiogo, the foreign “concession” was located near the fishing village of Kobe which then consisted of a few fishermen’s huts and some sake warehouses near what is now Motomachi 1-chome.

The “concession” or “settlement” at Kobe was bounded on the South by Kaigan-dori (The Bund) on the west by Nishi-machi, on the North by Ura-machi (Rear Street) and to the East by Higashi-machi.

Contrary to the practice at the earlier concessions and at Osaka, quite a large proportion of the foreigners at Kobe established their dwellings outside the Concession.

The Osaka “concession” was at Kawaguchi. Shortly after its opening, there was considerable strife in Osaka due to clashes between the party supporting the restoration of the Imperial Government and the supporters of the Tokugawa Shogunate which had for more than 300 years been the de facto ruler. Most of the foreigners left for Kobe and did not return so that the Osaka “concession” never developed like the one in Robe.

Kobe had its difficulties with the feudal Daimyo too and the site assigned to them was a dismal swamp, being described as “a sheet of water enclosing many quicksands”. It says much for the hardy pioneers that within a little over two years, they had not only drained the area and established their offices, houses and godowns but had even established a Lodge.

In the “Hiogo News” of 13th October, 1869, there appeared a notice asking all brethren interested in the formation of a Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons to meet at the house of Warren, Tillson & Co. No. 18 at 8.30 p.m. on the same evening. No. 18 is at the corner of Maye-machi and Akashi-machi now occupied by the Everett Steamship Co.

The same newspaper carried advertisements for meetings at the same place and hour on 18th and 23rd October. One advertisement was in the name of James Wallworth, William L. Eppes and John Marshall Scott and the other in the name of Lewin Joseph, Hon. Secretary.

James Wallworth of Lodge 428 and William L. Eppes were scheduled to become the first R.W.M. and W.S.W. respectively but apparently left the Port before the Charter was secured. J. M. Scott was originally scheduled to be J.D. but actually became the first W.J.W. D. H. Tillson of Warren, Tillson & Co., one of the original petitioners, was the first Treasurer and was Master in 1877 and 1878. The first R.W.M. was Bro. Amasa Standish Fobes who had been initiated in Ancient Landmark Lodge, Massachusetts Constitution, in Shanghai on 6th June 1865. It is interesting to note that Ancient Landmark Lodge was in fact not formally dedicated until 5th September 1865, but had been working under a Dispensation in Shanghai from 9th May 1864.

Bro. A. S. Fobes served as R.W.M. for two years. He was at that time employed by the China-Japan Trading Company, but shortly after serving his second year as R.W.M. Bro. Fobes returned to Shanghai and was for many years a partner in Robert Anderson & Son, the well-known tea merchants. He was elected an Honorary Member of Ancient Landmark Lodge on 7th March 1917, being then the oldest initiate of the Lodge. In a letter of thanks written to his Mother Lodge Bro. Fobes stated:

“Permit me to testify and record that, after a little more than half a century in Masonic work in the Orient, I have no regrets; but I heartily endorse the Universal world good work that Masonry has done and is doing; and to exhort the Brethren to be faithful in continuing the uplighting work that Masonry stands for.”

As these words echo down the Century the brethren of Lodge Hiogo and Osaka are able to catch a brief, but personal glimpse of their first R.W.M.

Our ancient brethren were not long content with their first premises and on February 16th, 1871 the foundation stone of a new Masonic building was laid at No. 81, Kyo-machi by Major P. M. Kinder, the first Master of Rising Sun Lodge No. 1401 E.C. who was in charge of the Mint at Osaka. The building was completed in the following year and the old records say that “with its Corinthian Columns, it was for many years, quite the most distinctive building in the Settlement”.

This remained the home of the Lodge and of Rising Sun Lodge for some years but bad times struck Kobe and the Masons had to move to smaller premises at 82 Division St.

No. 81 was afterwards used as a Municipal Hall and then rebuilt and used as business premises. It was pulled down in the 1930s and, with a great deal of trouble, the late Bro. F. H. Fegen, P.M. retrieved the ancient coins etc. which had been buried under the foundation stone. He had the relics handsomely mounted in a glass-fronted box and put up for exhibition at the premises at Corinthian Hall, No. 48, Nakayamate-dori, 2-chome, Kobe. These unfortunately were stolen shortly after they were put on exhibition and all efforts to secure their return proved fruitless.

Bro. A. S. Fobes was succeeded as R.W.M. in 1872 by Bro. A. A. J. Gower, the British Consul. In those days, the Kobe Settlement was a self-governing body run by a Municipal Council consisting of the Consuls and elected members. Bro. Gower was Chairman of the Municipal Council and generally quite a power in the land. Bros. Fobes, Gower and Fischer, the 1st, 2nd and 4th Masters were Trustees of the first Protestant Church formed in Kobe and it may well be due to their influence that the Church assembled at the first and second Lodge premises until regular church premises were built.

Bro. Gower was succeeded by Bro. B. Fischer, a German merchant prominently associated with the development of Kobe.

In 1874, the Master was Bro. J. J. Enslie, the British Vice-Consul at Osaka. He was again Master in 1895, after an interval of 21 years.

In 1875, the Master was C. A. Heimann, of Mourilyan, Heimann & Co. one of the two largest British firms at the time. The other was Goldsmith & Browne, which supplied the Master in 1876, H. St. J. Browne, an Australian, the uncle of the late Bros. C. M. and Leonard Birnie.

Bro. Browne and the late Mr. A. C. Sim are credited with having made the largest individual contributions to the development and running of the Settlement.

As noted previously, D. H. Tillson, an American, was Master in 1877 and 1878.

Of C. Wiggins, Master in 1879 and 1880, the writer is unable to trace anything although it is noted that a person of this name met a gruesome death by falling into a paper-making vat.

It is impossible to deal with all of the other earlier Masters. It will be noted, however, that they include famous Japan names such as Nankiwell, Hunter, Stephens, Richardson, Franklin, Lightfoot, Cabeldu & Jonas and that they have been recruited from a large variety of nations. Incidentally, it does not seem that the Lodge had a Scottish Master till R.M. Thomson assumed the office in 1891.

Amongst the members, the name of W. G. Aston, a well-known authority on Japan, is to be noted.

In 1899, extra-territoriality was abolished and foreigners became subject to the Japanese law under which an institution such as Freemasonry became, technically at least, illegal.

In 1903, when Bro. G. A. Adam was Master, the Masonic fraternity moved into premises at No. 48, Nakayamate-dori, 2-chome, at some distance from the former extra-territorial Settlement. The title to the land consisted of a 1,000 year lease in the names of Bros. Adam, Lawrence David Abraham, Master of 1401 E.C. in 1889 and 1904 and George Harvey Whymark, Master of 1401 E.C. in 1888, 1890 and 1905 and District Grand Master of Japan, E.C. from 1911 to 1923.

As was quite a usual procedure in those days, no formal registration of the building was ever made and no registration tax was ever paid. In 1933, Gomei Kaisha Kobe Building Association was registered, the partners being Bros. H. S. Goodwyn Isitt, D.G.M. (E.C.) 1934–1941, B. J. Kitson, D.G.S. (E.C.) and S. G. Stanford, R.W.M. of our Lodge (1923).

This company administered the building, charging out the cost to our Lodge, Rising Sun Lodge No. 1401 E.C., Lodge Albion in the Far East No. 3729, Rising Sun Chapter, Torii Mark Lodge and Kobe Masonic Club.

The building was by no means pretty but it was strong, durable and commodious. In addition to housing the Lodges, it had room for a library, bar, billiard room with 3 tables and office space. One of the principal architects of this project was Bro. A. Kirby (W.M. 1401 E.C. — 1895) and it remained the apple of his eye until his death in 1940. Bro. Kirby was initiated in Lodge Hope, Karachi, the first Lodge of the Scottish Constitution inaugurated in India. He built the first iron-clad warship to be constructed in Japan and assembled the pre-fabricated train ferry which carried the trains over Lake Biwa, being shot at from time to time by arrows aimed by samurai in the kind of armour that can now be seen in curio shops and museums.

The Lodge enjoyed a period of great success during the periods between the two world wars. During this time, perhaps our most outstanding P.M.s were Bros. S. D. Clay, F. H. Fegen, L. J. Nuzum and S. G. Stanford. Bros. Clay and Nuzum are happily still with us although no longer in Japan. Bro. Clay recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of his initiation into our Lodge. He was appointed Honorary Grand Marshal in 1935.

A more detailed history since just prior to World War II is as follows:

Bro. W. Lackie installed at 69th Installation Meeting on 17/12/38.

Installing Officers:— Bro. H. C. Macnaughton, M., Bro. S. D. Clay, S.W., Bro. L. J. Nuzum, J.W., Bro. N. E. H. Ericson, D.C. & Bro. S. G. Stanford, I.G.

Presided at 9 ordinary meetings, from No. 610 on 12/1/39 to No. 618 on 4/1/40 and at 2 Mark Meetings, one on 20/4/39 and one on 1/6/39.

During this period, 5 brethren were initiated, 2 passed, 3 raised, 5 advanced and 1 affiliated.

At 31/12/39, there were 5 Life Members, 17 Life Absent, 36 Resident, 24 Absent and 3 honorary.

Bro. C. H. Woodward installed at 70th Installation Meeting on 13/1/40. (postponed on account of Bro. Woodward’s illness).

Installing Officers:— Bro. W. Lackie, M., Bro. S. D. Clay, S.W., Bro. L. J. Nuzum, J.W., Bro. N. E. H. Ericson, D.C. and Bro. S. G. Stanford, I.G.

Presided at 5 ordinary meetings, No. 619 on 1/2/40 to No. 623 on 6/6/40. Bro. W. Lackie presided at No. 624 on 6/2/41.

During this period, 3 brethren were initiated, 1 passed, 1 raised and 2 affiliated.

At 31/12/40, there were 5 Life Members, 24 Life Absent, 31 Resident, 10 Absent and 3 honorary.

The effects of the European war and Japan’s antipathy to the Allies was already being greatly felt.

Bro. A. B. Riddell installed at 71st Installation Meeting on 1/3/41.

Installing Officers:— Bro. W. Lackie, M., Bro. L. J. Nuzum, S.W., Bro. C. Blyth, J.W., Bro. S. O. Thorlaksson, D.C. and Bro. G. W. Colton, I.G.

Presided at 3 ordinary meetings, from No. 625 on 6/3/41 to No. 627 on 1/5/41.

During this period, 1 brother was passed and raised.

From July onwards, there was a very rapid deterioration in the situation. U.S.A. and U.K. froze Japanese assets and the Japanese took corresponding action. The businesses of most British and Americans virtually closed, Only ¥100 could be drawn monthly from bank accounts without a specific permit from the authorities. Permit applications and report filing became the main business.

The British and U.S. Consuls instructed their nationals to leave as early as possible with the exception of a few bankers and accountants to take care of what business interests remained. Each nation sent a ship to evacuate its nationals. By October 1941, only the following members of the Lodge were left in Kobe.

425 L. Birnie (British)
427 L. J. Nuzum (British)
511 K. Clough (British)
525 R. F. Hausheer (Swiss)
539 S. V. Nyholm (Danish)
541 J. Levy (French)
544 N. E. H. Ericson (Swedish)
559 W. Lackie (British)
589 H. W. Abegg (Swiss)
593 O. W. Rhoades (U.S.)
597 B. A. Kaemmerer (Yugo-Slav)
611 C. G. Stanbury (British)
615 R. M. Melbourne (U.S.)

Bro. W. Lackie had in the meantime been given by the partners a Power of Attorney to look after the affairs of Kobe Building Association.

When the attack on Pearl Harbour took place, Bros. Lackie and Stanbury (in partnership as Chartered Accountants) were immediately arrested by the “Kempeitai” who had been keeping them under strict surveillance for about 6 months previously. It was afterwards ascertained that 2 “Kempeitai” had, unknown to him, lived in Bro. Lackie’s servants’ quarters for some months prior to Pearl Harbour. Both were incarcerated in cages at the Military Prison at Osaka Castle, the Headquarters of Prince Higashikuni, G.O.C., S.W. Japan Command. Prince Higashikuni, a man devoid of any decent principles whatsoever was afterwards made Premier of Japan by the Occupation authorities and encouraged to become a Mason!

On 24th December, 1941, Bros. Lackie and Stanbury together with a young employee of theirs, the son of Bro. E. B. Kawasjee who affiliated after the war and Mr. W. C. Winton, Ralli Bros. representative in Japan were transferred to solitary confinement in the prison attached to the Osaka Law Courts.

Young Kawasjee (aged about 17 or 18) was released fairly soon and sent to the internment camp at Canadian Academy.

In the early part of February, 1942, Mr. Winton was fined ¥10,000 (US$2,500) and transferred to a Japanese hotel under police surveillance. He was to be kept there until his fine was paid and then transferred to the Canadian Academy. However, Mr. Winton’s mind had gone in prison and he committed suicide by jumping out of an upstairs portion of the hotel.

In April, Bros. Lackie and Stanbury were sentenced to 4 and 3 years penal servitude respectively for breach of the Kokubo-Hoan-Ho (National Defence Preservation Law). The general charge was economic espionage but no specific charges were ever explained to them. Each was supposed to be represented by a lawyer at their trials but neither before, during or after the trials did either have any conversation with him. During the earlier part of his incarceration, Bro. Lackie was interrogated at some length on the subject of Masonry but later on and at the trial (so far as it is known) there was no mention of it.

Bro. Stanbury did not appeal and was immediately transferred to Sakai Penitentiary where he completed his sentence. He was then transferred to a camp on Mount Rokko whence he was flown to Manila for treatment and then sent to U.K. In the penitentiary, Bro. Stanbury’s mental and physical health improved somewhat but he had a very cruel experience and would not return to Japan to work for any consideration whatsoever.

Bro. Lackie appealed against his sentence and so was kept in the Osaka prison, pending hearing of his appeal which was set for August. In preparation for his defence, he was allowed to see a lawyer once but had to converse with him in Japanese in the presence of a warder. As his Japanese was pretty elementary and as the lawyer was unable to get the protocol of the original trial, the defence had not progressed much by the end of July. Then, to his amazed surprise, Bro. Lackie was informed that he could proceed from Yokohama on 1st August, 1942 with the internees by the repatriation steamer “Tatsuta Maru” to be exchanged at Lorenco Marques. This was as a result of intensive efforts by the British Embassy, successful in his case but unfortunately not so for Bro. Stanbury. Apparently the Japanese claimed that Bro. Stanbury had pleaded guilty and therefore they could not release him. Bro. Stanbury did not know a word of Japanese, was in a very low mental and physical condition, was not aware that he was ever asked to plead guilty or not and was unaware of any possibility of an appeal.

Bros. Birnie and Clough on account of age did not try to leave either by the evacuation ship before Pearl Harbour or by the repatriation ship later. By reason of their age, they were at first left unmolested but afterwards, Bro. Clough had a very sorry time at the hands of the Japanese civil police. Bros. Nuzum, Rhoades and Melbourne, having consular status, were kept under house arrest until departing by their respective repatriation ships. Bros. Rhoades and Melbourne arranged for the transfer of our Charter, Roll Books, 2 ordinary and 1 mark minute book and sundry files etc. to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo from where Bro. Rhoades recovered them after the war.

The neutral members apparently were not very much harassed and Bro. J. Levy (French) (R.W.M. 1934) was in the same position for some time. Later on, however, Bro. Levy was thrown into prison and suffered intensely over a prolonged period.

In 1942, the Japanese authorities issued a freehold title in favour of G.K. Kobe Building Association in respect of the previously unregistered buildings and simultaneously put an Enemy Property Custodian over both land and buildings. About this time Bro. Petersen (Danish) and Bro. Bisehoff (Swiss), both members of Rising Sun Lodge did what they could to protect Masonic Assets, particularly those of the Kobe Masonic Club. Eventually, the Custodian sold the land, building and contents, mostly at ridiculous prices. Bro. Levy was at that time confined to his house but heard of the sale. As foreigners were not permitted to purchase enemy property he managed through one of his employees to purchase the Lodge Bible and various books of the Lodge. He was able to return the Bible to the Kobe Base Masonic Club after the war but the books were destroyed by enemy action.

Bro. Levy was subsequently jailed on a spy charge, based on the supposition that as head of freemasonry in Kobe he had used the organisation for spying, with the allegation that freemasonry was an international Jewish Bolshevist organisation whose main purpose was the destruction of the Imperial House of Japan. He received many beatings and for three months was fed on a small quantity of rotten rice and a portion of salt. He was constantly questioned on freemasonry, being asked such questions as to whether Roosevelt and Stalin were freemasons.

After the release of Bro. Levy from jail by the U.S. Army he immediately concerned himself with the re-establishment of the Lodge. Fortunately Bro. Otis W. Rhoades, U.S. Consul reentered Japan with the Occupation Forces and was able to restore the Charter of the Lodge. Bro. Levy then sought an interview with General MacArthur at the Headquarters of S.C.A.P., but he was referred to General Eichelberger in Yokohama who was very co-operative and gave a letter of procurement to the Military Governor in Kobe for the Lodge to use the former German Club Concordia. In his own words he said “You will have the Nazi Room in Kobe for your Lodge Meetings”. It was unfortunate that the Corinthian Hall had almost been completely destroyed on 5th June 1945. The relics at the N.E. Corner had already disappeared by the time a digging expedition could be organised after the surrender.

On 24th March 1946 at a meeting organised by four American G.I.s the Kobe Base Masonic Club came into being, this in due course led to the re-institution of meetings under the banner of Lodge Hiogo and Osaka, and later by Rising Sun Lodge. The other pre-war masonic bodies which met in the area, namely Lodge Albion in the Far East, Torii Mark Lodge and Rising Sun Chapter were not revived.

The first meeting of the Lodge was held on Thursday, 5th September 1946 with Bro. Levy in the Chair, and with only two other members of the Lodge present, namely Bro. Rhoades as W.S.W. and Bro. E. A. Kammerer as W.J.W. All other chairs were occupied by members of Rising Sun Lodge and foreign Lodges.

The Lodge held regular monthly meetings thereafter and the Lodge Room was filled with army personnel both American and British. The British Forces stationed in Kure several times requested the meeting to be delayed for one or two hours to await the arrival of the train carrying the British Troops. Both the U.S. and British Armies provided the food and refreshments necessary for the meetings, and many of the visiting brethren brought individual parcels of food for the masonic brethren in Kobe. As the U.S. Forces at these meetings insisted upon giving greetings from their own Lodges at least twenty minutes was spent at each meeting in receiving these warm and fraternal greetings.

Bro. Levy left Kobe for Hong Kong at the end of December 1946, and later returned to Japan and settled in Yokohama, but the good work was continued, and the following is a more detailed synopsis of the activities of the Lodge after its reformation.

A Brief History of the District Grand Lodge of the Far East 1961