There’s a common misconception that joining Masonry is by invitation only. Nothing could be further from the truth. Masonry places great importance on the ‘free will and accord’ of the applicant. This means that no one will try to talk you into joining. It's up to you to decide if you want to become a Mason or not.
You become a Mason by joining a lodge. There are usually three steps:
•Finding out about Masonry.
•Choosing a lodge and getting to know the members.
•Submitting an application or ‘petition’.
Remember that the first step is up to you. If you know any Masons, don't hesitate to ask them about Masonry.
They'll be delighted to answer your questions. If you don't know any Masons, please contact the Grand Lodge of Japan and we'll do our best to answer your questions and put you in touch with a convenient lodge.
Do I have a choice of which lodge I join?
Yes. In theory, you could join any of the lodges governed by the Grand Lodge of Japan (the Research Lodge excepted).
In practice, your choice will depend on a number of factors, the most important being location, time of meeting, and membership. Masonic meetings are held at least once a month, so most people will apply to the lodge closest to them. Some hold their meetings in the afternoon, others in the evening. Each lodge has its own character or personality, and some people may choose to join a lodge that is slightly farther away, but whose atmosphere suits them better.
In Japan there's another important factor. For historical reasons, there are lodges of many different jurisdictions (Grand Lodge of Japan, Grand Lodge of the Philippines, Grand Lodge of Scotland, Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington, etc.), with different rituals and traditions.
If you're not sure about these differences, or need help with exploring the various options, please don’t hesitate to contact the Grand Lodge of Japan. We’ll be happy to refer you to any lodges you might find interesting.
What's the application procedure?
The application begins with the submission of a Petition Form, available from the Secretary of the lodge. You'll need two members of the lodge to sponsor you, so it's very important to get to know as many members as possible before you apply.
After receiving your completed Petition Form, the lodge will inform the Grand Lodge of Japan of your application. You will then be interviewed, in private, by several members of the lodge who will report their findings to the Master (elected chairman) of the lodge. If the findings are favorable, the lodge will hold a secret ballot on your application. If that ballot is favorable, a date will be set for you to become a member by receiving the First Degree of Masonry.
How long does it take to become a Mason?
Once you decide to apply, you'll probably want to join as soon as possible, but a little patience is needed. Each stage of your application will have to be discussed and approved at formal meetings of the lodge, which usually take place once a month.
On average, it takes two or three months from the time you submit your petition to the time you receive the First Degree of Masonry. If your petition is received just before the busy year-end season, or if other applicants are waiting in line, it might take a little longer.
Once you've received the First Degree of Masonry you'll be known as an Entered Apprentice. With time and study, you'll be able to receive the Second (Fellowcraft) and Third (Master Mason) Degrees.
How much does it cost to join?
Lodge fees are determined by Bye-Laws that have to be approved by Grand Lodge. Each lodge is free to set its own fees in accordance with membership numbers, expenses, and so on. As a very rough guideline, the average Initiation Fee is about 45,000 yen, and the average Annual Membership Fee is about 8,000 yen. Lodges also take collections for charity (‘alms’) but each member is free to contribute however much he likes.
Once I join, will I be able to visit other lodges?
Although there are a few exceptions, you'll have to wait until you become a Master Mason before you can visit other lodges. Once you become a Master Mason, you'll be able to visit any lodges recognized by the Grand Lodge of Japan. This includes dozens of lodges in Japan and thousands of lodges around the world.
I am a woman. Can I become a Mason?
Since its foundation in 1957, the Grand Lodge of Japan has accepted only male members. There are, however, some Grand Lodges that accept only female members, or who accept members of both sexes. Information about them is readily available on the Web.
I am a Mason visiting Japan. Can I attend the meetings of Japanese lodges?
Any Master Mason hailing from a jurisdiction recognized by the Grand Lodge of Japan is welcome to visit one or more of its daughter lodges. Unless the visit is a formal one, it is usually enough to contact the Secretary of the lodge beforehand. He will give you details of upcoming meetings, and brief you on what you should bring and how you should dress. Please see the following Q&A for more information.
Do I need to bring anything with me?
This will vary from lodge to lodge — another reason for contacting the Secretary beforehand and asking for details. Usually a current dues card or other document showing that you are in good standing with your mother lodge is sufficient. If you haven't brought any Masonic regalia with you, most lodges have a stock of aprons, etc. for visitors.
Do Japanese lodges have a dress code?
Yet again, this varies from lodge to lodge. On the whole, Japanese lodges tend to be more informal than lodges in, say, Europe. The Secretary will give you guidance on this.
How do I contact the Secretary of a lodge?
If you can't find a link on the Lodges page of this website, the Grand Lodge of Japan office will be happy to make an introduction.
What language is used in Japanese lodges?
English or Japanese, and often a mixture of both. The ritual of the Grand Lodge of Japan is available in both English and Japanese versions, and the choice is left to the individual lodge. It is very common for lodges to switch languages to accommodate the needs of candidates and visitors.
Tokyo Masonic Center
4-1-3 Shibakoen, Minato-ku, Tokyo 105-0011