|Volume LVI||October 2009||Number 3|
A Brother in the East... the Far East
By Bro. Anthony J. Dintino III, St. Alban Lodge No. 529
In November 2008, I made my first trip to Japan, which was a long-time dream finally fulfilled. Being an avid martial arts devotee, even as a child, I always had a great respect and admiration for Japan and the Japanese people; therefore, this was a trip I wanted to take years before being made a brother of our craft.
However, after attending the Academy of Masonic Knowledge Meeting in March 2008, where one of the speakers talked about Freemasonry in Japan, I made the decision to contact a lodge in Tokyo and request permission to visit. After several e-mails, I made contact with the secretary of Tokyo Lodge No. 2, Bro. David Parmer, P.M. Bro. Parmer, who ironically is a Philadelphia native, welcomed me to attend their Stated Meeting to be held on Nov. 6.
After a 14-hour flight and 1½ hour drive to the hotel in the Akasaka section of Tokyo and a quick shower, I was off in a taxi cab to the Tokyo Masonic Center. In keeping with Japanese custom, I had brought along several Philadelphia Phillies baseball caps as gifts for the officers of the lodge. I knew these would be well received with the recent Phillies win in the World Series. With only about 500 native Japanese Freemasons in the whole country, the Masonic Center is not a well-known building (unlike our Temple); therefore, it took a little walking around and guidance from the one western person I found, to get to the Masonic Center. Although he was from Canada, I gave him a Phillies hat as a token of thanks.
Once inside, I was very cordially invited to wait in a lounge for Bro. Parmer. He showed up shortly thereafter, and I received my first examination as a Mason. Having been satisfied I was a brother of the craft, I was invited to sit in the north as the lodge opened.
I was extremely surprised to see how beautifully the lodge was decorated. Various shades of blue and natural wood adorned the room, which had the tessellated border going around the edge of the carpet. The pinnacle of the lodge room's décor was the "Canopy of Heaven" above the altar; this was a section of the ceiling that had been recessed and made in a dome-shape, painted blue, with lights as stars. This really embodied the symbolic meaning, as one felt as if he was looking into the infinite universe as constructed by the Great Architect.
Attendance at the meeting was small, but warm nonetheless. With a Master, two Wardens, Secretary and two Deacons, the meeting was opened and conducted in English. Obviously, the ritual was much different from ours in Pennsylvania, but still embodied the true brotherly love of Freemasonry. Worshipful Master Satoru Harano, P.M., conducted his meeting with great reverence and earnestness. Sitting with me in the audience was Past Grand Master Hideo Kobayashi, whom I came to find out is an avid baseball fan, and he also sent his high regards for our R.W. Grand Master and our Jurisdiction. At the close of the meeting, I presented Brothers Kobayashi, Harano and Parmer with Phillies caps; they in turn presented me with their 60th Anniversary Lodge Pin, which I proudly wore at our St. Alban Stated Meeting in December.
In the true nature of our craft, this experience was a "three-fold" first for me: it was my first trip to Japan, my first trip to another lodge outside our jurisdiction and my first examination as a visitor. I still keep in touch with Bro. Parmer and look forward to a future trip to Japan and seeing my brothers in Tokyo Lodge No. 2.
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