Okinawa lodge No. 118
So named after Okinawa, the largest island in the Ryukyu archipelago. Okinawa is a rugged country. Sixty-seven miles long and from three to 20 miles wide, it is cut up in a maze of ridges, cliffs and limestone and coral caves.
A week after the American invasion of Okinawa during World War II, the Okinawa Masonic Club was organized on the beach, in the evening (exact date, time and place are now unknown) by a small assembly of Masons. During subsequent months, membership in this club increased rapidly, only to have many of the members return to the States for leave or duty rotation.
During the month of June 1946, a petition for a dispensation to form a lodge was forwarded to the Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands. Grand Master Michael Goldenberg issued the dispensation on December 7, 1946 (later this date was amended to December 19, 1946).
Before the expiration of the dispensation, a petition for a charter was presented to the Grand Lodge at its Annual Communication, which at that time, was held during the month of January.
The Grand Lodge postponed action on the request for a charter until it could be determined under which grand jurisdiction the island of Okinawa belonged. Okinawa Lodge, however, was permitted to operate under a dispensation while a Grand Lodge Committee looked into this problem. At the stated meeting of Okinawa Lodge on February 11, 1947, the petitions of Ralph P. Parker, John D. Matson, Jr., Allen H. Hendon, Juaneto P. Idrogo and William E. James were read and together with the petition for affiliation of Brother Russel L. Bryant of Randolph Lodge No. 1268, Shertz, Texas, were approved. These brothers, in due time, formed part of the charter membership.
At the July 1947 meeting, the Acting Master, John A. Cox, appointed several Brethren to fill in the stations left vacant by the regular officers who had returned home.
At this time, degrees were being conferred three to four times each week. Visiting Brethren had to be used extensively in accomplishing the lodge labors. From June 30th to December 30th of 1947 Okinawa Lodge, U.D. conferred the following degrees: 52 Entered Apprentices, 30 Fellow Crafts and 30 Master Masons.
During the thirty-second Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge, WB Cox presented the lodge's request to Grand Master Emilio P. Virata along with a friendship trowel, while another trowel was presented at the same time to Grand Secretary Antonio Gonzalez, POM, to be laid in the archives of the Grand Lodge. At said Annual Communication the Grand Lodge granted a charter to Okinawa Lodge.
As none of the Grand Lodge officers were able to make the trip to Okinawa; the Grand Master appointed Right Worshipful Brother David W.K.Au, District Grand Master for China, to constitute Okinawa Lodge U.D. and install its officers.
The Junior Warden-elect, having gone back to the States, Senior Deacon Harry Cowling, was elected to fill this station on July 31, 1948. District Grand Master Au arrived in Okinawa on August 1, 1948 and the following evening he constituted Okinawa Lodge No. 118 and installed its officers in public ceremonies.
On the evening of August 3rd, Bro. William E. Traynor was raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Mason as a courtesy to Riverside Lodge No. 112, Wenatches, Washington.
From this humble beginning Okinawa Lodge has grown rapidly until it became the largest lodge under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines as well as one of the largest Masonic lodges in the Far East, with a roster of approximately 500 members. The members come from all walks of life and are to be found in nearly every corner of the world, in Germany, France, Arabia, South America, Alaska, India, Canada, Greenland, Scotland, Greece, England, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Turkey, Africa, Panama Canal Zone and the U.S. Likewise the members are of different nationalities, i.e. American, Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Okinawan, Russian, Hungarian, French, English, Indian, and various European nationalities.
The first meeting place of Okinawa Lodge was in a building in the Awase Meadows area which was purchased and renovated to make it suitable for Masonic use. In the 1950's a move was started for a new building in a better location. Land was acquired in the Machinato (Makiminato) area on Highway One and a Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new building was held. In July 1958, the lodge moved into the new facility. On August 22, 1959, the Machinato Masonic Temple was dedicated by Grand Master Macario Ofilada. When the Grand Lodge of the Philippines chartered additional lodges in Okinawa, a fresh move to acquire a larger building was initiated. The Machinato property was sold in 1972 and land in the Kishaba area of Kitanakagusuku-son was acquired on which a modern, spacious Temple was erected. It was named the Kishaba Masonic Temple and on May 25, 1974, Grand Master John 0. Wallace dedicated it. The Kishaba Temple, however, proved unsuitable. It had a remote location and was expensive to maintain. So, once more, the Temple was sold, and a smaller, more accessible lot was acquired in the Yagibaru area on Highway 330. A one-story Masonic Temple was erected on the lot, and on October 31, 1981 Grand Master Simeon Rene Lacson dedicated it.
The Brethren of Okinawa Lodge No. 118 formed the nucleus of all other Masonic bodies organized in Okinawa such as the Scottish Rite Bodies, York Rite Bodies, Coral Lodge No. 142, Loo Choo Lodge No. 172, Clayton W . Roberts Lodge No. 175 and Shurei Lodge No. 176.
Location: Okinawa, Japan