The Autobiography of Tsujita: Part 5 of 8-part blog series

This digital transcription is a small portion of Usaburo Tsujita’s autobiography describing his time at Bok Tower Gardens in 1955 and is part of the Nellie Lee Bok archive. The Bok family employed Tsujita at the turn of the century, and he would later create the Peace Lantern as a gift to honor his mentor, Edward Bok. This historical account begins with his first visit to the Sanctuary accompanied by Edward Bok’s son, Curtis Bok, and his wife, Nellie Lee Bok.

Part 5


From the observation balcony, we entered the Tower again and came to the top climbing up by the stairs. Many bells that are hung from the ceiling constitute the essential part of this Singing Tower.

By a manipulation similar to playing an organ, the wire fitted behind the organ pull the clappers, which strike the bell over the head. There are seventy-one bells in all, hanging in five tiers with large ones in the lowest and the highest eighteen tones are duplicated, I am told. The largest bell weighs eleven tons and the smallest seven pounds. The total weight of all the bells is over fifty tons.

Since 1928 Mr. Anton Brees, Laureate of the Royal Flemish Conservatory in Antwerp, Belgium, is the Tower’s carillonneur. I was told that if he retired there would be no successor, and therefore in order to operate the carillon electronically various machines were brought and the equipment was just completed.

Stroll in the Sanctuary

We took the elevator to come down the Tower and stepped out into the open air again. The plants, which looked very small from the top of the Tower, were considerably large and luxuriant. Here and there around the moat, large shrubs of azaleas were in bloom. I was told that the best flower season of azalea in this locality was February, but the flowers were still beautiful.

Justice Bok guided me through a lane under thickly verdant plants and we came out to the feather end of the long narrow moat in front of the Tower. The majestic sight of the Tower seen from this spot was wonderful. The water of the moat reflected the entire Tower with its peak near where we stood, thus showing an inverted Tower on the water. The plants surrounding the moat were also beautifully reflected.

According to Justice Bok, the moat was previously only one half of the present size, but later was enlarged so that the full size of the Tower might be reflected. It is no wonder that every camera man visiting this Sanctuary takes a picture at this spot without exception.

The visitors numbered thirteen thousand in the past thirty years. The number of last year’s visitors was seven hundred and fifty thousand and the visitors are increasing year after year. Later, I went to the parking place and was surprised to find that cars has come from not only from all over the U.S.A. but also from Canada, and thus to know how widely this Sanctuary was known.

I cannot tell how and where we strolled but somehow we came upon the apparent outskirts of the Sanctuary.

Suddenly Justice Bok said, “Tsuda, this is the old path,” and he pointed his hand to a path which extended downward yonder through a wild pine wood. “We used to climb up and down this hill by this path in the olden days.”

I looked around. The surrounding typography, especially the yonder hills, now became suddenly familiar, and I replied, “Yes, and I now recall this path.”

Thirty-six or seven years ago, I used to come to this place with Edward Bok in his Ford car. He used to get off the car about here and walked around. As I wrote in “My Memory of America,” he must have been thinking about the cultivation of this hill then. As I recalled him, tears began to stream down again. I had a hard time to conceal my tears from Justice Bok.

We bid goodbye to this path and the hill, full of memories, and we retraced the lance by which we came. And after some more stroll, we returned to Hotel Chalet Suzanne in Justice Bok’s car.

Posted in