The Trek East: Mormonism Meets Japan, 1901–1968


By Shinji Takagi

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“A masterful treatment of Mormonism’s foundation in Japan.” — The Millennial Star
“A terrific, rigorous look into an underserved area of Mormon history.” — By Common Consent
“This is a wonderful book, full of historical knowledge on a lesser-known subject in LDS history” — Deseret News

2017 Best International Book Award, Mormon History Association

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Book Description:

The Trek East represents Mormonism’s ongoing search for a haven in Japan that began at the turn of the twentieth century. This effort to evangelize and grow in Japan occurred with the backdrop of three forces of history that had emerged in the previous century. First, with the aspirations of Manifest Destiny achieved in conquering the western frontier, the United States was becoming a Pacific military and economic power. Second, Japan was opening up its borders after 220 years of national seclusion, allowing its enterprising young men to travel abroad, foreign missionaries to enter the country, and its citizens eventually to practice a religion of their choice. Third, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been freed from government harassment for the practice of polygamy, was beginning to think of going beyond the then established missions.

Author Shinji Takagi takes a distinctively “macro” approach, focusing on the logic behind the narrative—why certain decisions were made and their historical significance. The Trek East is therefore as much about Japan as it is about Mormonism. Readers will observe, through the eyes of Mormonism, the intellectual, legal, political, religious, and social aspects of Japan as the country evolved across history.

Read a Q&A with the author

Praise for The Trek East:

“Both this book and its author are unique in contemporary scholarship. The book is the first scholarly (as contrasted with hagiographic) study of the challenges faced by the Mormons in their effort to establish a new form of Christianity in a country already undergoing drastic political, economic, and religious transformations. As a distinguished Japanese social scientist, and an adherent himself of the Mormon religion, the author is well positioned to interpret both the Japanese and the religious aspects of this encounter to the reader.” — Armand L. Mauss, author of The Angel and the Beehive: The Mormon Struggle with Assimilation and All Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage
“In The Trek East, Dr. Shinji Takagi has produced a masterful treatment of Mormonism’s foundation in Japan. Dr. Takagi takes an approach that informs us of Mormonism in Japan in a manner that focuses on inputs and results, environmental conditions in Japan and cultural biases of a Mormonism informed by western assumptions.
— Meg Stout, The Millennial Star
“[Shinji] Takagi, a professor of Economics who has published extensively in multiple countries, refers consistently to newspapers, journals, diaries and other primary sources. His work is both detached and intimate: Takagi describes not only the key dates and places, he deals with the family stories and histories of the early Saints in Japan, luminaries such as Takeo Fujiwara and Tatsui Sato whose influence over the Japanese Church are still felt today. . . . The Trek East is a terrific, rigorous look into an underserved area of Mormon history.
— Steve Evans, By Common Consent
This is a wonderful book, full of historical knowledge on a lesser-known subject in LDS history. The author, who is Japanese, LDS and lives in Virginia, is deeply invested in the subject and carefully includes all sides of the history.
— Mike WhitmerDeseret News

Shinji Takagi, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Osaka University, presents an ambitious work that focuses on a “macro” and “analytical” approach to Mormonism’s historical presence in Japan from 1901 to 1968.
— Jeff T., Juvenile Instructor
[Shinji] Takagi is to be commended for embracing the vital undertaking of telling a story about Japanese Mormonism that captures the richness and complexity of its local context.
— Emily Anderson, Mormon Studies Review, Vol. 5
A monumental work of scholarship. . . . I can't imagine that any future study of this period could hope to provide a more thorough and engrossing analytical study of the origins and growth of the Church in Japan. This remarkable contribution is unlikely ever to be supplanted.”
— Van C. Gessel, Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 44, No. 2
“Shinji Takagi’s extremely detailed and thoroughly researched book The Trek East makes a significant contribution to understanding early LDS Church history in Japan. Although the book covers a period that has been extensively described in previous scholarship, Takagi does not present another historical narrative of key events but rather provides a rigorous study of the social influences that impacted those events. This analytical approach brings a layer of explanatory depth that has, until now, been absent in studies of Church history in Japan. The result is a product rich in insight into the ways religious, economic, and political environments in Japan shaped the unfolding story of the LDS Church in that country.”
— Stephen J. Moody, BYU Studies Quarterly, Vol. 57, No. 2

About the Author:

Shinji Takagi is Professor Emeritus of Economics at Osaka University. The author of nearly 200 publications, Professor Takagi has also held senior positions at the International Monetary Fund and visiting professorships at Brigham Young and Yale Universities. He is a graduate of Swarthmore College and obtained his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Rochester. He currently lives, with his wife, in the Washington D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia.

More Information:

596 pages
ISBN: 978-1-58958-560-7 (paperback); 978-1-58958-561-4 (hardcover)


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