Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Kitaji (Masuo) papers
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Overview
Table of contents What's This?
Masuo Kitaji was a Japanese American Salvation Army captain. The collection contains English-language printed Bibles (digitized versions available) annotated by Kitaji with Japanese translations and other commentary as well as Japanese WWII internment newspapers and other materials.
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.
3 manuscript boxes, 2 cubic foot boxes (2.0 Linear Feet)
For copyright status, please contact the Hoover Institution Library & Archives.
Original bibles may not be used without permission of the Archivist; there is digitized content from this collection available. The remainder of the collection is open for research; materials must be requested in advance via our reservation system. If there are audiovisual or digital media material in the collection, they must be reformatted before providing access.