KAGAWA, TOYOHIKO. (1888-1960). Japanese Christian evangelist, social reformer, writer, and agroforestry pioneer, known as the “Japanese Gandhi” and the “St. Francis of Japan.” SP. (“Toyohiko Kagawa”). 1p. Postcard. N.p., N.d. Inscribed to “Dr. Eddy” (possibly the Protestant missionary, DR. GEORGE SHERWOOD EDDY, 1871-1963, a contemporary of Kagawa who was very familiar with his work) across the lower portion of an original photograph of the seated, pensive-looking Kagawa leaning on a desk with his chin in his hand.

Orphaned at an early age, Kagawa was educated by Christian missionaries, becoming an enthusiastic convert. Inspired by Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, Kagawa moved into the slums of Kobe to minister to the poor. Witnessing firsthand the plight of the poverty stricken inspired him to work towards the alleviation of poverty in Japan, and led to the publication of numerous books, the proceeds of which aided the impoverished. After attending Princeton’s theological seminary, Kagawa returned to Japan to become a leader in the trade union movement, calling for reforms such as fair wages, better working conditions and suffrage. He also sought to improve the circumstances of mountain farmers whose lives were disrupted by deforestation. Kagawa was influenced by J. Russell Smith’s work Tree Crops – a Permanent Agriculture and began to experiment with cultivating crops as part of a forest ecosystem. After successfully persuading Japanese farmers to plant walnut trees to stabilize the soil and feed their pigs, practicing what he called three-dimensional forestry or forest farming, he brought his research to South America and Africa. His groundbreaking work inspired forest garden pioneer Robert Hart who adapted the practice to the temperate climate of England.

In the years leading up to World War II, he called for peace and demilitarization but with the outbreak of war, defended Emperor Hirohito and criticized the West as an aggressor against Japan. Although his later years were somewhat tarnished by his association with Japanese imperial propaganda during the war, Kagawa helped establish democracy in Japan and, for the remainder of his life, was an outspoken advocate of world peace and nuclear disarmament.

Kagawa authored more than 150 books, including novels, sociological studies, theological works, and translations of the works of Albert Schweitzer. He was nominated several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature and the Nobel Peace Prize. There is a statue of Kagawa in Washington’s National Cathedral.

Small portion of the upper-right corner missing and overall light wear; in good condition. Very rare. [indexhistory]

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