News Release

Okinawa Temple Hosts Tours for Media and Other Invited Guests

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The Okinawa Japan Temple opened for tours on September 21st with a special Media Day, followed by Invited Guest tours on September 21st and 22nd.

Key representatives from both the Japanese prefecture, as well as the nearby American military bases were present. Community leaders from Okinawa, Mongolia, the United States, Korea, and Tokyo also attended the Okinawa Temple Open House.

Media outlets from Okinawa, Tokyo, Korea, and the United States attended a guest preview tour led by Elder Erich W. Kopischke—assistant executive director for the Church Temple Department—and Elder Takashi Wada, Asia North Area President.

During the media event, at a chapel next to the temple, Elder Kopischke addressed invited guests and journalists before they walked through this new house of the Lord.

Elder Kopischke told journalists from Japan and Korea that the temple is the House of the Lord and is a symbol of Jesus Christ’s light to the world. “In a world that is sometimes full of confusion and darkness, the temple is a beam of light and brings clarity and peace.”

Asia Area President Takashi Wada said, “There are nearly 2,000 Japanese and American members who worship at various churches throughout Okinawa each Sunday, who are unitedly excited to have the blessings of the temple.”

Colonel Glenn Bright, Head Chaplain from the Kadena Air Base 18th Wing, thanked the Latter-day Saint community for “welcoming us into your temple and into your lives; we look forward to a future of friendship.”

Nettie Francis, the communication subcommittee chair for the Okinawa Temple open house said, “It is fitting that we have members of both the American and Japanese communities here today. Church members in Okinawa have served side by side for over seventy years. The Okinawa Temple is a culminating symbol of peace on our beautiful island.”

Ms. Ayano Touma, Single Mother and Widow Welfare Federation, Prefectural Organization President, thanked the Church for its work on a project that provided food and brought the Christmas spirit to disadvantaged women and children. They value collaboration with the Church in efforts which benefit the community.

Sister Melene Mierzejewski, wife of the former Church Okinawa Military District president, Bill Mierzejewski, attended the temple open house with her son and daughter. The Mierzejewski family lived in Okinawa previously for 25 years.

She remarked, “Our time at the Okinawa Temple was marvelous, and made us reflect on when we lived here in Okinawa and were longing to share the blessings of a temple—a place where everyone on this beautiful island could know of the light and peace that the temple will bring. A place where families can be reunited with passed on ancestors and a key to eternal happiness.”

Base chaplains were invited to a special tour with Elder Kopischke, who shared his own memories of living in Germany and working alongside the armed forces. Chaplains and commanders from the bases in Okinawa were invited to the special guest open house, and commemorated almost 70 years of American and Japanese Church members serving side-by-side in Okinawa.

A touching moment occurred Friday evening, as a special tour was provided for the first Japanese Stake Presidency in Okinawa (called in 1980) and their spouses: President Kensei Nagamine, first Japanese Branch President and first Okinawa Japan Stake President; President Chojiro Oshiro, 1st counselor; and President Takeshi Miyara, 2nd counselor. President Akira Yafuso, 2nd Stake President, also joined the group.

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The brethren also gathered for photos with additional former Japanese Stake presidency members, and the current Okinawa Stake President Hajime Miyara, as well as current Okinawa Military District President Mark Francis.

President Nagamine shared stories about early church years in Okinawa, working side-by-side with the American military church leadership as the young Japanese Church leaders learned to conduct meetings and perform responsibilities. He also shared his own conversion story, being baptized as a young man after World War II ended. President Nagamine expressed how long the members had prayed and waited for a temple in Okinawa. He noted that upon hearing the announcement of the Okinawa Japan Temple in April 2019, he “was filled with great joy and gratitude with many of [his] brothers and sisters."

With deep reverence, President Nagamine said, "Okinawa is an island which is redeemed by the precious blood of more than 240,000 people during the war. During my tenure as stake president, the cries of the dead, who had already accepted the gospel in the spirit world, were as urgent as the tides of the sea.” 

Onlookers shed many tears as the dedicated leaders—all over 90 years old—entered the beautiful Okinawa Temple, several of them pushing their wives in wheelchairs.

Public tours started Saturday, September 23rd, with over 1100 guests attending the first day of the open house. Tours will continue through October 7th, excluding Sundays. 

Open House Reservations

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