Masuo Kitaji annotated and illustrated Bibles, 1935-1973
- Japanese, English. Original printed text in English; hand transcription and annotation in Japanese.
- Physical description
- 2 cu. ft. boxes.
- Kitaji, Masuo, 1897-1973.
- Finding aid
- Finding aid
- New analytical indexed Bible
- Companion Bible.
- English-language printed Bibles annotated by Kitaji with Japanese translations and other commentary.
- Earliest date
- Latest date
- Closed. Digital use copy available.
- Japanese American Salvation Army captain. Masuo Kitaji was born in 1897 in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, the oldest of nine children. His parents immigrated to California to work, leaving young Masuo in a Buddhist monastery where he was schooled in letters, art, music, martial arts, shiatsu and acupuncture. At 17, he joined his parents in Watsonville, California where they ran a general store. In the space of four years, he advanced from elementary to high school to college, studying art. His life was transformed after a motorcycle crash in 1925. Salvation Army missionaries helped nurse him back to health, and he embraced their Christian faith, eventually converting most of his family. As a captain, he ran missions in San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Just before World War II, he became engaged to a young Salvation Army officer in Japan, but it would be 21 years before Yuko Tsuruta could secure a visa to join Kitaji in California. There, he focused on his devotional project. Using the New Analytical Indexed Bible, he painstakingly entered a Japanese transcription of each chapter and verse on facing blank pages. He labored from 5 a.m. daily on what became a 3,000-page, 5½- inch-thick tome, using a magnifier to write in microscopic Japanese. He added comments on sermons and history. He created fanciful maps of the Holy Land, a timeline of Old Testament prophets, a diagram of prayers and an illustration of the story of Jonah and the whale. He noted his anguish and worry over his fiancé, trapped in wartime Japan. After the war, Kitaji worked as caretaker at Gilroy Yamato Hot Springs, then a spa and resort. Finally joined by his bride in 1952, he began a second Bible a year later, although it was never completed. He died childless in 1973--from “How Bay Area family reclaimed its family’s priceless historical Bibles,” by Sharon Noguchi, The Mercury News, October 21, 2017.
- Bibles found in San Francisco-area recycling bin, after which they were being offered for sale by the Rago Arts and Auction Center through the services of Swann Auction Galleries in 2017. Reaquired by the Kitaji Family through negotiation and donated to the Hoover Library and Archives in November 2017.
- New analytical indexed Bible in full-hide black leather with yap edge binding; gromet-affixed clasps with handle cut into double layer of leather; stamped gold lettering on covers and spine; total dimensions of full binding with yaps extended: 31.8 x 21.3 x 10.5 cm -- Companion Bible bound in one quarter green pebbled leather set inside full-hide brown leather zippered case with grometed leather strap; total dimensions of case: 30.5 x 22.9 x 14 cm.
- Related Work
- Bible. Japanese.
- Bible. English. Authorized. 1931.
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