On 14 February 1901, the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the opening of the Japan Mission and the selection of Elder Heber J. Grant as its first president. The idea of sending Mormon missionaries to Japan had earlier been entertained by President Brigham Young and several other church leaders and lay members.

Until 1854, Japan was closed to western nations and their religious influences. Finally, Commodore Perry forced the Japanese to open their borders and minds to the economic and political entreaties of the United States. In time, other western nations and their Christian theology were admitted into Japan. Aware of their technological inferiority when compared to the West, the Japanese government set out to westernize their nation. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Mormons and the Japanese made a series of positive contacts. On two occasions, plans were made at the highest church levels to send missionaries to Japan. Both ended in failure.

Finally, in 1901, the Church again committed its resources and one of its finest leaders, Elder Grant, to open the Japan Mission. After accepting his own calling, Elder Grant began the selection process of his own companions. He chose Horace S. Ensign, Louis A. Kelsch, and a young man from his home ward, Alma O. Taylor. Eighteen-year-old Alma was raised with the best Mormonism had to offer. His parents blessed him with education and position. He was also blessed with a sharp mind and a determined soul.

Alma served in Japan for over eight and a half years. During this time he kept detailed journal entries of his experiences and impressions. The body of this thesis is devoted to making his writings available to other scholars and church members interested in the foundational events of the Church in Japan.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History



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Alma O. Taylor, Diaries, Mormon missionaries, Japan, Mormons, History