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.
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
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.