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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended June 18, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 15Jun00

Summarized by Andrew Hall

Report on Fukuoka Temple Dedication
Andrew Hall 13Jun00 D1

FUKUOKA, JAPAN -- My family and I just returned home to Chiba, north of Tokyo, from a five day trip to Fukuoka for the dedication of the Fukuoka Temple, so I'm sitting down to write my journal entry about what happened while it is fresh in my memory. We were members of the Fukuoka Ward from 1995 to 1997, and we had a wonderful time seeing our old friends. It is a very close and friendly Ward, so it was great to be back with them.

First, about the appearance of the Temple. It sits on the land formerly occupied by the mission office and President's home, in the Josui neighborhood, right next to the Fukuoka Zoo, which the Church has owned since 1964. It is a very impressive building, designed by Brother Yoshimura, who is my Stake President in the Abiko State (north of Tokyo) and an architect for the Church. Although it is officially a "mini temple," it certainly doesn't seem like that from the outside.

It is a very large building, covered with a dark gray marble. Unlike the Tokyo Temple, which is packed right in the crowded Hiroo neighborhood of Tokyo, the Fukuoka Temple has quite a bit of elbow room, and has more of a horizontal feel. There is small parking lot, and it is located right on a large roundabout for buses to turn around, which gives plenty of room for charted busses and others to drop people off. Behind the temple is a tree covered hill that is part of the zoo, which gives the temple a nice natural background.

One of the reasons it is so big is that the bottom floor of the temple is the new Mission office and President's house. Since it is built on a hill, the entrance to the temple, on the second floor, is ground level, facing the hill. The glass doors have beautiful designs with three circles, presumably symbolizing the three degrees of glory. The steeple with the Moroni statue is quite short by temple standards, because the city did not want it to be taller than the hill. I think it looks good that way, you can see Moroni quite clearly.

Inside, the Temple is relatively small. I missed the open house, and only got to peak around briefly before and after the dedication session, so I can't go into much detail. After entering the doors the baptismal area is off to your right (not in the basement like in most temples). The hallway to the left leads to the endowment rooms and sealing room. There are two endowment rooms, but only one endowment session goes on at a time. The first one is used for the first part of the endowment, then the participants get up and move to the next endowment room, which has the veil, for the next part. Then the first room can be used for those waiting for the next session to start. The Endowment room had 48 fixed seats, with room to set up a few more if needed. The Celestial Room is small but not cramped.

The Japanese-style art in the Temple is notable. In the entryway there is a multi-colored Japanese-style screen, painted by a Brother West, an artist based in Tokyo who specializes in Japanese art. Near the Endowment Rooms is a golden colored picture of what appears to be Lehi at the Tree of Life, done in a Japanese byobu style. Also, there are two large pieces of Japanese ceramic art in the Celestial Room.

The first Temple President and Temple Matron are Masaru and Junko Tsuchida, long time leaders in the Church from the Nagoya area. Sister Tsuchida was baptized in the 1950s, and President Tsuchida was baptized in 1960. In 1960 they were the second member marriage in Nagoya Branch History. He was the first President of the Nagoya Stake, from 1978 to 1987. He has also been President of the JMTC and Sapporo Mission. Recently they moved to Kita Kyushu to live with their son, who is a Bishop there. There is one councilor in the Presidency so far, named Furuya or something like that. The Furuyas have been working as Temple Missionaries in Tokyo.

There was a special fireside on Saturday night at the Fukuoka Ward to celebrate the Temple's dedication and welcome back and honor past Mission Presidents and missionaries who had come for the event. Many missionaries from over the years came with their families, most for the first time since their missions, and there were many reunions of people who hadn't met for over twenty years.

Needless to say it was a very emotional night. More people came than they expected, and they had to scramble to set up chairs and move the tables of food in the cultural hall out of the way so they could open the dividers and people could sit down.

Fukuoka Stake President Yamashita conducted the meeting. He noted that this year marks the 50th anniversary of the start of missionary work in Fukuoka, and the 30th anniversary of the opening of a mission in Fukuoka.

In attendance were six former Mission Presidents, Dwayne N. Anderson, President of the Northern Far East Mission in 1962-1965 and the first Tokyo Temple President, and Sister Anderson, Watanabe Kan, the first President of the Japan West (Fukuoka) Mission, 1970-1973 and Sister Watanabe, Yamada Goro, President in 1976-1979 (I'm not sure if his wife was there), Roy Tsuya (1979-1982) (I'm not sure about his wife), Cyril Figuerress and Sister Figuerress (1991-1994), and Lorin Pincock and Sister Pincock (1994-1997).

James McArthur, the present Fukuoka Mission President, was gone for most of the fireside, helping the visiting General Authorities and their families get settled in the new Mission Home where they spent the night, the first people to do so. President McArthur's term will be over in a couple of weeks. Also Brother Shimizu, a member from Kansai who was District President over all of Western Japan for a time in the 1960s, and Sister Shimizu, the widow of Fukuoka Mission President Takashi Shimizu (1982-1985) were on the stand. My notes aren't clear if President John Sakamaki (1985-1988) was there, but I don't think he was.

There were two short videos in between the talks, both taken by Brother Izumi from the Fukuoka Ward, who runs his own video production company. One showed the raising of the Moroni Statue over the temple, with the rain clearing up just in time. Another went through the entire process of building the temple, from the tearing down of the old Church buildings to the finishing touches. All of the former Mission Presidents spoke. President Anderson spoke about how small the Fukuoka Branch was when the was President, and the blow the Branch took when their building burned down in 1963, started by a kitchen spark in the missionary living quarters. He approved the purchase of the Josui property, which now is the site of the Temple.

Although Fukuoka was very far from Tokyo, it had high ratios of member activity, and had the largest ratio of Temple Recommend holders in Japan when the Temple opened in 1980. So he thought it was proper that Fukuoka got the second Temple in Japan. President Watanabe said he first came Fukuoka as a missionary in the early 1950s. He said he never dreamt a temple could be built here.

President Yamata said he first came to Fukuoka as a missionary in 1960. He also commented on the high attendance ratio in Fukuoka, including a 94% activity rate. He talked about dedicating the Mission Home (site of the present Temple) in the early 1970s, sending missionaries to each corner of the property to hold their own personal dedicatory prayers. President Tsuya mentioned that he also served in the JMTC, the Sao Paulo Mission, and the Family History Center in Salt Lake since being President in Fukuoka. He said he now lives in Las Vegas, and he invited the entire congregation to come and stay with them if any every were in the area.

Brother Shimizu (the former District President) spoke about the ward overcoming the church fire in 1963. Sister Shimizu (the widow of President Takashi Shimizu) spoke in very halting Japanese about her love for the people in Fukuoka. Sister Figuerress spoke about feeling at home in Fukuoka, and the blessings of the temple. President Figuerress cracked the audience up with his "Aloha Goazimasu" and "Hawaii" jokes. I love his Hawaiian accented Japanese. He spoke about walking around hill near the Mission Home praying and meditating, and how he felt there would be a temple there someday. President Pincock spoke of the debt we owe to the work of the past missionaries and Presidents.

Then President Yamashita had all the missionaries who had served in the area over the years stand up and introduce themselves, in order of their Mission Presidents. The earliest RMs in attendance were President and Sister Watanabe and a Sister Fukuda, who had served under President Mauss in the early 1950s. Next came Presidents Pincock and McArthur, who had served in the early 1960s.

In all around 70 missionaries who had served in Fukuoka were introduced. Brother Yoshizawa, who served as the leader of the Fukuoka Branch and then Fukuoka Stake for so many years gave a very emotional closing prayer. Brother Yoshizawa also prepared a three page history of the Church in Fukuoka which was passed out to all in attendance. The Temple Dedication (Hooken-shiki) was held Sunday Morning. President Hinckley presided and conducted, with Sister Hinckley and their daughter Jane, Elder and Sister Holland, Elder Kendrick, the President of the Asia North Area, and Sister Kendrick, and Gary Yamada, an Area Authority, and Sister Yamada also in attendance. There were four sessions, with around 700 people attending each session.

Rain was forecasted, but except for a little drizzle in the morning, it was a beautiful day. I'm not a good writer, I can't describe the strong spirit that was there in the meeting. But both President Hinckley and Elder Holland broke down in tears several times. President Hinckley and the others spoke from the Celestial Room, and closed circuit TV broadcasted their words to screens throughout the Temple and Mission Home. There were seats set up wherever there was room, in all of the rooms of the building, and in many of the hallways.

I attended the first session, at 8 AM, and sat in the first Endowment Room, which had earphones for English translation when a Japanese person was speaking. Most of the speakers spoke in English, with translators standing by them translating into Japanese

On his way in President Hinckley stuck his head in our room (and probably others) to wave hello. He looked very healthy and vibrant. Throughout the session he kept up his usual warm humor. In his opening remarks President Hinckley quoted Ephesians, saying the Church members themselves make up the Temple of God. A choir from the Fukuoka Stake came in behind the Prophet and sang "I Know My Redeemer Lives".

Then President Hinckley explained about the cornerstone ceremony (Teiso-shiki), and the cornerstones symbolism of Christ. Today, with concrete buildings the cornerstone retains its symbolism, but not its functional role (in fact in this case it was up the wall a little ways on the second floor of the building). The main group then went outside to seal up the cornerstone "with mud" as President Hinckley said. A choir made up of members from the outlying Districts sang, with a group of saints watching. Each of the visiting GAs and their wives took a turnputting some cement in the crack around the stone, with President Hinckley lightly teasing each one in turn.

Then he invited a young Japanese boy and girl to come up and put some in too. As they went back in, he invited the outside crowd to come up and put some more cement in the cracks themselves.

Back inside, Elder Holland gave a characteristically literate and emotional talk about the meaning of the dedication ceremony, President Hinckley's love of Japan, and the blessings the Church has received because the Lord has extended President Hinckley's life. He spoke about the young people in attendance, and how one of our major obligations once we receive a testimony is to teach that to the next generation. He encouraged the parents to often talk to their children about this day, and to buy a picture of the temple and hang it up in the home.

Then former Mission Presidents Anderson, Yamada, and Tsuya, and President McArthur gave short talks. President Anderson said he never thought he'd see the day when a temple would be built in Fukuoka. President Tsuya spoke emotionally about the importance of keeping Temple covenants. He said he fought in World War II in the famous 442 Regiment (made up of Japanese-Americans), and that his garments protected him from a potentially disabling back injury, because he had kept his temple covenants.

Then President Hinckley spoke again, this time about his love for Japan. He said he was the Apostle with responsibility over Asia twice, first for 8 years in the 1960s, then again for 3 years in the 1970s "because no one else wanted it." He said he first came to Japan in 1960, and visited every Branch from Okinawa to Hokkaido, and he named several of them off by memory.

He talked about how amazing the growth of the Church has been in many of those areas since then. He promised everyone there that every time they come to the Temple, they will leave a better person then when they came. He became very emotional while talking about his love for the members in Japan. Then President Hinckley read the dedicatory prayer, and Elder Holland led the congregation in the Hosanna Shout (Hozana Sanshoo-Hosanna Three Cheers), and we sang "The Spirit of God" with the Choir. Brother Yoshizawa said the closing prayer. And then we went out so the people for the next session could come in, and milled around outside talking to our Fukuoka friends. It all felt very, very good.


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