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TitleThe Book of Mormon in Japanese
Publication TypeMagazine Article
Year of Publication1909
Secondary AuthorsSmith, Joseph F., and Edward H. Anderson
MagazineImprovement Era
Issue Number2
Date PublishedDecember 1909
KeywordsForeign Language Translation; Language - Japanese

This article announces the completion of the Japanese translation of the Book of Mormon and lauds the beautiful work done and the effort spent in the project.

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The Book of Mormon in Japanese.

The ERA has received a copy of the Morumon Kei, the Book of Mormon, in the Japanese language. This translation was published by the Japan Mission on the 10th of October, 1909, at Tokyo, Japan, under the personal direction of Elder Alma O. Taylor, president of the mission, by whom also it was translated. It is printed by the Shueisha press. We heartily congratulate President Taylor upon the completion of this stupendous work.

In glancing over the pages and scanning the characters therein, one is lead to wonder how such a difficult task could be accomplished, even in the five years of time it has taken to do it. The translation began on the evening of Monday, January 18, 1904.

The book is artistically printed, from a mechanical point of view, on good paper, and in large, clear characters, and is handsomely bound. It contains 977 pages. The list of contents fills twenty-six pages; there are four pages of explanations, one page to each of the testimonies, and two pages of the translation of the English title. It has also a page of explanations of the use of references, abbreviation marks, etc.

The Book of Mormon is thus once more translated into a foreign language. Not only is President Taylor to be congratulated upon this stupendous task which is now completed, but the Church also. The Latter-day Saints are enabled to step in, because of this translation, upon the ground-floor, so to speak, of the grand awakening to the adoption of western ideas and religions now so manifest in the Orient. This awakening among the oriental nations we believe to be another sign among the many wonderful signs to be shown in the dispensation of the Fulness of Times in which we live, when all the nations of the world are to have the gospel proclaimed to them. The Lord is moving in a mysterious way to perform the "marvelous work and a wonder" which was revealed in the latter-days through the Prophet Joseph Smith; and those who watch these signs may realize how gloriously he is removing obstacles that stand in the way for the universal proclamation of his word to all the nations of the earth.

The receipt of this wonderful translation of the Book of Mormon in the Japanese language has awakened us from the tasks and toils of the day to a partial realization of the marvelous times that are before us, and to the wonderful work that is being done by the Saints in the proclamation of the gospel.

Since the completion of the Concordance of the Book of Mormon, a few years ago, by Elder George Reynolds, no other work relating to the Book of Mormon has presented such stupendous labor; and we believe that counting first the bringing forth of the book itself by the Prophet Joseph Smith, this event stands third in magnitude in its marvelous history and progress.

Of course, we have no means of judging of the literary standard of the translation, but knowing of the pains and care that have been exercised by President Taylor, from the day in January, 1904, when President H. S. Ensign stated that the time had come to begin the translation of this scripture, and up to the day it was finished, we believe it to be up to the best standards. President Taylor and assistants have labored long, prayerfully and assiduously on this great literary task. In a letter quoted in the Deseret News Elder Taylor says:

The blessings of the Lord upon the work have been countless, and the praise and honor and glory for its successful consummation is all his. Elder Fred A. Caine was called to act as assistant in the work, after President Ensign's return home, and in his work as guide, critic and counselor he has been a pillar of strength through whom the Lord has frequently made known his will regarding translating problems.

The labor has been a most valuable, inspiring and elevating pleasure; so much so, that physical fatigue and mental strains have never reached my heart. In this point I believe Elder Caine has been entirely like myself. His power of application and ability to stick to his work without tiring or wishing for something else, has been a source of gratitude to me and a certain proof that he was the right man for the position. I rejoice that he has been permitted to be with me to the end and know that his integrity in this and his other missionary labors is worthy of a great reward. The support given to the work by all the missionaries who have labored here during its progress, has been a constant memorial before the Lord. The native Saints also have been deeply interested in the work, and hail its completion as an answer to their earnest prayers. Nor is the influence of the faith and prayerful solicitude of our fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and all the Saints in Zion, to be forgotten. They have upheld our cause night and morning, in public and in private, and they have ungrudgingly devoted us to the Lord. God bless them!

The first edition consists of 5,000 copies, and the book sells in Japan for 50 cents.