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A Short History of Masonry in Japan

The Masonic Fraternity was introduced to Japan in much the same way as it was to other countries - by means of a military travelling Lodge. Sphinx Lodge No. 263, under charter from the Grand Lodge of Ireland, and attached to the 20th Regiment of Foot (Lancashire Fusiliers) came to Yokohama, Japan in 1864. Sphinx Lodge, while in Japan, accepted several members of the resident foreign community and these newly made Masons, along with those who had already been members of other lodges, decided to petition the Grand Lodge of England for a Lodge Charter. In -1865, their petition was approved and, on June 26, 1866, the first meeting of Yokohama Lodge No. 1092 was held. From this beginning, the following bodies were formed prior to World War II:

* Six Craft Lodges and A District Grand Lodge Under the United Grand Lodge of England
* Three Craft Lodges Under the Grand Lodge of Scotland
* Mark Lodges
* Royal Arch Chapters
* Scottish Rite Bodies

From 1941 to 1945, Masonic activity was dormant in Japan, and in the early post-war period, only one of the English and two of the Scottish. Lodges were reactivated.

Following the organization of several Masonic Clubs by the occupation forces, the Grand Lodge of the Philippines began to charter Lodges in Japan and Okinawa.

The Fraternity was made available to Japanese Nationals for the first time, and soon the ritual was translated into the Japanese language. The building and land that were to be the forerunners of the new Tokyo Masonic Center was purchased and occupied. Soon, yet another Grand Lodge was to be represented in Japan. Sinim Lodge which had been operating in the city of Shanghai, China, with a charter from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, was reactivated in Tokyo in 1952.
A Short Chronolgy, Masonry in Japan, Continued
The various Lodges and appendant bodies enjoyed considerable growth and prosperity, and, by 1954, a District Grand Lodge for Japan was approved by the Grand Lodge of the Philippines.

In early 1957, a resolution was passed within Moriahyama Lodge No. 7, calling for all Lodges in Japan chartered by the Grand Lodge of the Philippines to a convention to consider the formation of an independent Grand Lodge of Japan. By March of 1957, fifteen Lodges had approved the resolution, a constitution had been drafted, prospective Grand Lodge officers had been elected, and a delegation had been formed to attend the Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines to request recognition for the newly formed Grand Lodge of Japan.

Although the desired recognition was to wait a time, when the delegates returned to Tokyo, the newly independent Grand Lodge of Japan proceeded to issue charters to its constituent Lodges, and sought the recognition of other Grand Lodges throughout the world.

As the years passed, the number of constituent Lodges under the Grand Lodge of Japan increased to twenty; and, by 1972, there were 4,766 members on the rolls. But, after 1972, the Grand Lodge of Japan began experiencing the trend that faced a large proportion of the worldwide fraternity of Masons - - a gradual reduction of members and the consolidation of Lodges. By December 1980, total membership was reduced to 3,743, and the number of Lodges to eighteen.

Presently, we enjoy recognition from 132 other Grand Lodges, or nearly all of the regular Grand Lodges throughout the world. The Grand Lodge and its constituent Lodges have had various individual and combined charity and community programs disaster relief drives, a Grand Lodge Sight Assistance Program, wheelchair campaigns for the benefit of the crippled, and the favorite of many, an annual Children's Festival sponsored in the spring of each year by the Grand Lodge of Japan. Appendant body programs are equally active, and include the Crippled Children Program of the Shrine, the Knight Templar Eye Foundation, and - the heralded educational program and aphasia program of the Scottish Rite.

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