Sapporo Japan Temple
Demolition of existing structure; site grading; construction fence and trailer on site; anticipated to be completed in 2016 (awaiting official announcement)
Groundbreaking and Site Dedication: 22 October 2011 by Gary E. Stevenson
As of May 2013, full-scale construction has begun on the Sapporo Japan Temple. Site grading is underway; a construction trailer is on site; and a construction barrier has been erected.
On Saturday, October 22, 2011, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, president of the Asia North Area, presided at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Sapporo Japan Temple with his counselors, Elder Michael T. Ringwood and Elder Koichi Aoyagi, and their wives. Tents, umbrellas, and plastic raincoats were in abundance as wind and rain showered over the services. "I am thankful for this historic groundbreaking—even in this downpour," Elder Stevenson said. "Everything today was wet with rain, but the spirit of the saints was not dampened at all. They came with their hearts open and with complete joy as they saw the image of the temple at the groundbreaking ceremony. You could see that their eyes and hearts were just filled with joy to know that they are going to have a house of the Lord on the island."1
The former prime minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama, was a special guest at the groundbreaking. He flew to Sapporo to participate in the ceremony, and in his brief remarks, he pointed out the contribution of the Church and its members to the people of Tohoku, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck in March 2011. "You have made many social contributions in a spirit of service. I cannot express my feelings toward the quiet service you have rendered with kindness on behalf of the people." Prime Minister Hatoyama joined in the ceremonial turning of ground, and as he left, he paused to wave to the crowd. The congregation erupted into spontaneous applause as a reflection of gratitude to this former leader of their nation who honored them with his presence on a wet but special day.2
The beautiful white Sapporo Japan Temple—designed with inspiration from Asian architecture—will anchor a complex of supporting buildings including an Arrival Center, a Patron Housing Facility, a Temple Missionary Housing Facility, a combined home and office for the Japan Sapporo Mission, and space for a future meetinghouse. The captivating grounds offer the beauty and mystique of the Orient, featuring distinctive trees and plants, large landscaping stones, and an enchanting pond and waterfall spanned by a pedestrian bridge.
On May 2, 2010, the location of the Sapporo Japan Temple was announced as a large parcel of land on the Atsubetsu River, adjacent to the campus of Hokusei Gakuen University. A charming, well-known pedestrian bridge decorated with colorful circles and supported by a soaring, graceful arch—known locally as "Rainbow Bridge"—crosses the river at the north edge of the temple site. The land was once occupied by the Shin Sapporo Golf Center and offers convenient access from the Hokkaidō Expressway and the Ooyachi Subway Station.3
News of the announcement of the Sapporo Japan Temple—so long desired by the Saints of Hokkaidō—was met with shouts for joy, prayers of gratitude, and tears from an overwhelming sense of the Spirit. President Hiroyuki Domon of the Sapporo Japan West Stake said, "My heart was literally burning like a fire. There are no words to express my joyous feelings." He further explained, "We started to have one vision five years ago. 'Let us build a temple in this northern island. It is our dream, it is our mission.' We have prepared ourselves so that we may be worthy to enter the temple and the Lord has given us the greatest blessing."4
President Thomas S. Monson announced the construction of a temple in Sapporo, Japan, on October 3, 2009, during the Saturday morning session of the 179th Semiannual General Conference. This will be the third temple built in Japan, which has 29 stakes and 14 districts. Sapporo is Japan's fifth largest city and is located on the northern island of Hokkaidō.5
Missionaries of the Church first arrived in Sapporo in 1905. By 1924, the mission had closed, leaving behind a handful of members—most of whom could not be located following World War II. When the mission reopened in 1948, missionaries returned to Hokkaidō, and the Church began to grow. As early as the 1960s, Hokkaidō members held to a belief that a temple would be built among them one day as described at the groundbreaking ceremony by Elder Koichi Aoyagi in a reflection of his own missionary experience there: "I was a missionary here in Hokkaidō 46 years ago. The members in the Sapporo Branch back then said to me, 'Someday we will build a temple in Sapporo.' I am happy that this day has come."6
On July 17, 1949, Elder Matthew Cowley made the first prophecy regarding the temples of Japan during the dedicatory services for the old Tokyo mission home—now the site of the Tokyo Japan Temple. Elder Harrison Ted Price, a missionary serving in the Northern Far East Mission, recorded in his journal: "In this prayer, he told of countless blessings from the Lord that have been enjoyed here to date, and went on to prophesy—'there will someday be many church buildings—and even TEMPLES built in the land.'"7
1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, "Groundbreaking Held For Sapporo Japan Temple," 22 Oct. 2011.
2. Elder Conan Grames and Sister Cindy Grames, "Ground is broken in Sapporo for Japan's third temple," Church News 27 Oct. 2011, 17 Nov. 2011 <http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/61606/Ground-is-broken-in-Sapporo-for-Japans-third-temple.html>.
3. Matthew Campbell, Email to Rick Satterfield, "Sapporo Japan Temple," 16 Aug. 2010.
4. Greg Hill, "Members Rejoicing in Sapporo," Church News 4 Nov. 2009, 9 Mar. 2010 <http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/58174/Members-rejoicing-in-Sapporo.html>.
5. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints News Release, "Five New Temples Announced," 3 Oct. 2009.
6. Carol Moses, "To Build a House of the Lord," Tambuli Oct. 1980: 7.
7. Elder Conan Grames and Sister Cindy Grames.