Elder Heber J. Grant, with companions Louis A. Kelsch, Horace S. Ensign, and Alma O. Taylor (who turned 19 on 1 August 1901), arrived at Yokohama on 12 August 1901 to open the first Latter-day Saint mission to Japan. Apostle Grant dedicated Japan on 1 September 1901; the first baptisms occurred on 8 March 1902.
NORTH CHINA HERALD (Shanghai, China)
11 December 1901
A Mormon prophet of the name of Heber J. Grant and three Elders, one of them a boy of 19, are at present staying in the Hotel Metropole here, but will soon move to a house close by, as they have received official permission to preach, on the express condition that they do not preach polygamy, and as they consequently intend to remain here a number of years. They are all merchants, able to pay their way, and their outward appearance differs in nowise from that of average laymen. But it is impossible to remain near them long without learning who they are, for they seem to be anything but ashamed of their belief and are eagerly on the lookout for converts, – European or Japanese, it’s all the same to them. In the evenings they sometimes take possession of the Hotel piano and sing inoffensive religious songs of the “Holy City” type until they imagine that they have worked the audience up to the proper degree of fevour [fever? fervor?] whereupon they venture a little further and exhort people in general (in alleged poetry) to “Judge not harshly,” etc., etc., the concluding hymns being tearful appeals for tolerance and, if possible, sympathy (for the poor, dear Mormons, of course, although the sect is never mentioned by name).
The European Press here is unfavourable, on the whole, to the newcomers, not so much I should think because of any extraordinary orthodoxy on the part of the European journalist, as of influence brought to bear on able editors by Christian missionaries already in possession. This is, however, only a surmise of mine. The “Mail” is particularly Mormonphobe and even wanted the Japanese Government to refuse the Apostle and his elders permission to preach. It contended that, even though the Mormons promised not to publicly inculcate it, polygamy was one of their articles of belief and their converts would soon come to understand that, and to act accordingly. I might here mention that only one of the Mormons is married. This one is the “Apostle” and he frequently takes visitors to see the photographs of his two wives and his numerous offspring which are hanging (the photographs of course, not the wives; they have not come to Japan) on the wall of the “apostolical” apartment.
There seems to be absolutely no reason for the Christian missionaries to trouble themselves about the Mormon propaganda, as that “religion” can never have any attraction for the Japanese and will only succeed in gaining scallywags to its ranks, if it has any chance even with scallywags. The latent religious mania which makes some Europeans fall victims to the Mormons is altogether absent in the hard, worldly, rationalistic Japs.