Transcript for Andrew Jenson, "Japan Mission," Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1941), 373-74
JAPAN MISSION (The) comprised the Empire of Japan, consisting of a group of islands in the Pacific Ocean, separated from the east coast of the continent of Asia by the Sea of Japan. The population of Japan in 1930 was 86,732,904. Minerals are abundant in Japan and large quantities of iron products are imported. Silk, woolen and cotton goods are manufactured, also paper, matches, lacquered ware, earthenware, etc. Shipbuilding is extensively carried on. The religions of Japan are mainly Shintoism and Buddhism.
The Japan Mission was opened in 1901 by Apostle Heber J. Grant, assisted by Elders Louis A. Kelsch, Horace S. Ensign and Alma O. Taylor, who arrived at Yokohama, Japan, per steamship "Empress of India," from Vancouver, British Columbia, Aug. 12, 1901. Two days later, the "Yokohama Herald" published an address by Elder Grant to the people of Japan. On Sept. 1st Elder Grant, with his companions, ascended one of the hills in the vicinity of Yokohama and held a meeting, during which Pres. Grant dedicated the land of Japan unto the Lord for the proclamation of the gospel. Soon after this the Elders established their headquarters at Tokyo and commenced to study the Japanese language.
On March 8, 1902, Pres. Grant baptized Hijime Nakazawa, a former Shinto Priest, in the Tokyo Bay, as the first fruit of the labors of the Elders in Japan. A second baptism took place March 10th when Saburo Kikuchi was baptized by Pres. Heber J. Grant. These two converts were both ordained Elders. Soon afterwards other missionaries came into the field, including Pres. Grant's wife and his daughter Mary, Sister Ensign (wife of Elder Horace S. Ensign), Joseph F. Featherstone and wife, Erastus L. Jarvis, John W. Stoker, Sandford W. Hedges and Frederick A. Caine.
On April 18, 1903, the first L. D. S. meeting held in a public hall convened in Tokyo. Elders Alma O. Taylor and Frederick A. Caine spoke in Japanese and translated for the other speakers; about 300 persons were in attendance, who paid great attention.
In April, 1903, a tract by President Grant setting forth the aims of the missionaries and their message was published in English and a month later it was published in Japanese and largely distributed.
On Sept. 8, 1903, Pres. Grant and family left Tokyo, homeward bound, and Elder Horace S. Ensign succeeded him as president of the mission. A Sunday school for Japanese children was commenced in Tokyo Nov. 29, 1903, with satisfactory results. During the year 1903, 5,657 families were visited, 10,000 tracts distributed and 1,246 gospel conversations held, but only three baptisms resulted. In 1920 the membership of the Church in Japan numbered 127.
In 1904 a translation of the Book of Mormon into the Japanese language was commenced by Elder Alma O. Taylor, assisted by Elder Frederick A. Caine, several of the native saints and two Japanese college professors. Five thousand copies of the book were issued from the press at Tokyo in 1909. Some volumes for presentation to the royal family of Japan and to certain state officials were specially bound and distributed. Altogether, during the existence of the mission, 14,500 copies of books in Japanese were published, including the Book of Mormon, a brief history of the Church and two hymn books; 237,350 tracts in Japanese were also published.
During the existence of the mission, labors were extended to Saporo, 700 miles from Tokyo, and other parts, but few converts were baptized. Fifty missionaries from Zion at different times labored in the mission. In 1924 the Japan Mission was closed on account of political disturbances and also on account of the negligible results obtained from the labor of the missionaries. Following are the names of the presidents of the Japan Mission: Heber J. Grant, 1901-1903; Horace S. Ensign, 1903-1908; Alma O. Taylor, 1908-1910; Elbert D. Thomas, 1910-1912; Heber Grant Ivins, 1912-1915; Joseph Henry Stimpson, 1915-1921; Lloyd Ivie, 1921-1923, and Hilton A. Robertson, 1923 to the close of the mission in 1924.