The First Temple in Asia


The First Temple in Asia

The Tokyo Temple is the first temple to be built in Asia and the eighteenth to be built throughout the world. It was built for the benefit of the approximately 115, 700 saints who live not only in Japan but in other nations of Asia, including Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines and Hong Kong.

The temple is located near the center of the Tokyo metropolis in Minami Azabu, Minato-Ku, one of the most lovely and plush residential areas in Tokyo. The area also features many schools while to the front of the temple spreads the lush green of the historical Arisugawa Memorial Park. Nearby, the modern buildings of the Bulgarian, Swiss, and Norwegian Embassies lie scattered amidst the lovely residences of the area, tranquil surroundings that appear well-suited to a temple of the Lord.

There are few places in metropolitan Tokyo which could provide such a lovely environment for the temple, while the dignity of the temple itself makes it a well-suited addition to its overall surroundings. The mission home that was once the proselyting headquarters for the entire Far East area formerly stood upon the ground now occupied by the temple. The site itself, thus, has an important historical significance, and a record of the development of proselyting work in Asia seems to be engraved on the face of the land. In terms of transportation convenience, the location is superb, only a five minute walk from the Hiroo subway station. Convenience of access was one important reason for the selection of this site originally.

The temple building has one story under ground and four stories above. The first floor is 920 square meters in area while each of the above floors is 600 meters square. The building, excluding the steeple, is approximately 20 meters high, and the tower, which is decorated with stained glass, rises to a height of 55 meters. Structurally, the building is of aseismatic reinforced concrete and the surface is covered with gray granite. The interior of the building is as follows:

The floor includes the lobby, the temple presidency offices, the bridal matron’s room, the youth waiting room, the children’s room, the temple clothing supply room, the cafeteria, the kitchen, and the laundry room. There is also a temple clothing distribution center which is accessible only through a separate entrance.

On the second floor are locker rooms for men and women, the bridal dressing room, and lecture rooms for brides and bridegrooms. The residence of the temple president and his wife is on the second floor of the temple and access is from a separate entrance that opens to the street.

On the third floor is the chapel with a seating capacity of 120 persons and five sealing rooms for the performance of eternal marriages. Also on the third floor are locker rooms and a lounge for temple workers.

On the fourth floor are two ordinance rooms with a capacity of 100 each and the celestial room.

The underground floor houses the baptismal font, which is carried on the backs of twelve statues of oxen, as well as the boiler room and the storage area.

A traditional Japanese garden has been planted on the temple grounds. A metal fence surrounds the grounds which have been designed to allow the garden to be viewed from the outside by passers-by.

In His Holy House

Construction on the temple began in April of 1978 and was completed two years and two months later. Many interesting episodes related to the construction of the building took place during this time.

Brother Nagata, the construction superintendent and sole church member among those who participated in the construction of the temple, said, “There is no better opportunity for missionary work than through the building of a temple.”

Because the temple is a holy place, no construction work was performed on Sundays. Further, in order to avoid imposing an undue nuisance upon residents of the area from construction noise, construction hours were limited to the eight A.M. to five P.M. period on Monday through Saturday. These considerations are in accord with church standards.

Further, in relation to church standards, those involved in temple construction obeyed the Word of Wisdom, abstaining completely from cigarette smoking on the temple grounds during the whole of their working hours. The etiquette of the workers stemming from their awareness that they were laboring on a sacred structure was apparent everywhere.

Brother Nagata found many opportunities to explain the gospel to those connected with temple construction. Hopefully the seeds of truth thus planted will one day bear abundant fruit.

Because the Tokyo Temple is one of the most conspicuous buildings in the area, the interest of those residing nearby has been marked. There is no doubt that the holy influence of this sacred structure will permeate throughout the surrounding region.

The 55-meter high tower is visible from quite a distance away. The direct rays of the sun upon it cause it to shimmer in a variety of colors including silver and orange. The external wall is of granite quarried in Gifu Prefecture. The slightly grayish tone of the rock adds a mood of composure and dignity. The temple’s external appearance is entirely in harmony with the function the building will soon perform of lifting and inspiring the spirituality of those who enter it.

Turning to the interior of the temple, broad expanses of light filled space are seen. The carpet laid in each of the rooms and in the halls is harmonized with the color of the respective walls, and the warm, soft sensation of walking upon it lends itself to a feeling of deep assurance and peace. Most of the carpet was imported from the United States. Other materials imported from the United States include the stained glass, screens, the audio equipment, and so forth. The gorgeous chandelier was crafted in West Germany. All materials were selected carefully in terms of quality and value.

All of the furniture for the temple was made in Japan by special order. Unique techniques in crafting were applied to each piece and they can truly be called works of art.

All materials used in the construction of the Tokyo Temple are of the top quality and only the latest in technology and equipment characterizes the building control system, air conditioning system, independent power plant, and so forth.

[photo] Patron locker and dressing room in Tokyo Temple. (Picture copyright by the Corporation of the President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)