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Lloyd Ivie during the Great Kanto Earthquake


President Ivie

President Ivie Served as the Mission President in Japan during the Great Kanto Earthquake. (The Following Information was Provided by Provided by, D. Staples, Kansai Branch, Japan.) EDITOR'S NOTE: (D. Staples) Lloyd Ivie was the Mission President in Japan during the Great Kanto Earthquake. The following account was typed by his own hand and obtained from my mother. Lloyd Ivie was her uncle, my grandmother's brother. There is one page missing from the account. When the Earth Begins to Tremble. I am still unable, except with God, to find a reason why I took my wife and two-year old daughter, Ruth, from the western suburbs of Tokyo, where we then lived, to Sapporo for the balance of the summer. Nevertheless on July 4th we left from Shinjuku Station and arrived four days later after easy stages because-- Well!-- our second daughter, Janet, was born in the Hokkaido University Hospital on August 18th. Otherwise mother would have been in Saint Luke's, down in Tsukiji-- a subsequent center of the inferno. As it happened however, on the evening of September 1, 1923 I was at her bedside talking to some visitors when Kumagai, a lady reporter and close friend, came over from the news building to tell us that there had been "a great earthquake in Tokyo- wires down- transmitters out - communications cut off. An air pilot had flown over and reported huge fires everywhere and a tidal wave covering downtown Yokohama. Being in the teaching profession, we had fellow-teachers and a circle of friends in the area to consider. Besides, the responsibility of reporting to headquarters in America rested on me. I worried. Why don't they let me know? Is everyone wiped out? Much of that night was spent at the bulletin board. For a day - two days-- three-- I shuttled from news office to railway station to prefectural building seeking some way or other to make contact. Nothing turned up. Finally, with "impossible" ringing in my ears from every direction this decision was made: Mr. Mauss would accompany me and we would go to Tokyo. The station master would not sell tickets so we huddled. They could not refuse Sendai; it was not in the stricken district. This maneuver enabled us to clip off 550 of the 750 miles during the next two days and nights, including steerage across the boisterous Tsugary Straight which left us both pale behind the gills. At Sendai the woods had changed but the ghost remained the same. The station master wailed,- "Without an official pass I am helpless; you must see the mayor." The mayor protested,- "You are not citizen's of Sendai; try the governor." The governor washed his hands,- "I have no word about aliens; it is up to the station master." Finally after more argument and explanation, the SM relented enough to sell us tickets to Omiya - 24 miles short of Tokyo, while protesting it would not be his responsibility if the army stopped us. Holley and Hicken joined us in Sendai. When the southbound pulled in at five in the afternoon four Americans were on the platform- the floor level of the passenger cars. I had seen packed trains before. This one was bulging! -aisles, windows, vestibules - many were seated on top of the coaches. Station attendants did not bother to clear the doors. Then I heard a redcap say that two empties would be added; but luck stopped us amidships, rendering either entrance utterly unreachable through the crowd. So we opened the window, gave each other a leg and a hand, and were seated inside before they could jostle down the aisles.

President Ivie with daughter Ruth in 1923

(The Following Information was Provided by Provided by, D. Staples, Kansai Branch, Japan.) When the Earth Begins to Tremble. . . . continued When daylight came our train was already parked on a siding three miles out of Omiya. Any sleep we might have gotten during the night was purely coincidental. We were cramped, and aisle standers dozed into our laps. From a trainman inspecting the wheels we learned that it would be another hour at least before the northbound came along, so we climbed out in turn to stretch our legs and get a breath of air. Hicken happened to climb on top of some freight cars on an adjacent siding and discovered a splotch of blood on the coach immediately behind ours. Apparently during the night some luckless top-rider had failed to duck a tunnel. At last the the train crawled to Omiya and passengers filed out into an open yard between lines of glistening bayonets. The army WAS there. We had nothing to do but stand in line until mid-afternoon and inch along toward the credential officer's table. Our hopes hit low ebb as we watched applicant after applicant turned back in spite of his official papers. "Credentials, please"-- the voice was routine. I laid down my name card bearing the Tokyo address and narrated briefly our effort to secure a paper of some sort. THen he asked, "Why must you go to Tokyo?" "Our residence-- other teachers. Their kinfolk in America will be frantic. It is my duty to find out and inform them." "Advance!" he ordered-- just like that! It took our breath away. During our long stretch in line we had piled up enough argument to last the day out, and here we were beyond the dread barrier without using a single remonstration. By the time we had supressed a desire to throw our hats into the air and shout we were in the midst of another scramble for riding space. Under army control there were no tickets to buy. Sentries stood everywhere. Our job was to obey orders and go. At Tabata we transferred again-- the home stretch. We boarded the suburban "Earthquake Special"-- a wheezy donkey engine running the fast electric tracks and pulling its limit of empty coal cars in which everyone stood up-- if they could squeeze in. As it spluttered grimy smoke into our faces I overheard comment between two gentlemen in silk kimono. "Now," one remarked, "Japan is no different than China." He must have had in mind the most disasterous earthquake on record-- in Kansu province in 1920 which took 200,000 lives. Tokyo stands second at 99,331; though the official police report at the time read "250,000 casualties". Many, of course, were burn-wounded or injured by falling objects. Both figures could be true; the quake had hit one of the most densely populated centers on earth. Finally-- home! A bath and a bed! It didn't matter that our supper was a ration of brown rice, not that a plate of fish oil with a rag for a wick gave us light. After nearly a week we could undress and sleep; for our faithful house-servant, Taniuchi, had had presence of mind while the house was threatening collapse to douse the fire in the kitchen stove. Even a disconnected stovepipe could have poured flame out to burn everything up. He risked his life and then ran to the aid of his wife and child in the adjoining servants' quarters. Next morning our witty colleague, Esplin, filled in some of the blanks. He was upstairs writing a letter at 11:57 a.m. when the shock hit. He dove for the door; it wasn't there! When he found the stairs amid ripping and puffing wall plaster-- (the ceilings were wood)-- he missed the bannister in two out of three grabs! One look from the portico stopped him short. It was raining tile outside and he had forgotten his umberella! He who hesitates is lost; a picture of some educational leaders fell from the wall and bopped him on the head. "First time the big stick ever topped this ball", was his dry comment. A next door neighbor's wife was in the process of giving birth. [A page is missing at this point]

LDS Missionaries, 1912.  Ivie Choro Sitting far right

(The Following Information was Provided by Provided by, D. Staples, Kansai Branch, Japan.) When the Earth Begins to Tremble. . . . continued Our next move in that thirty-miles-in-a-day was to the Ginza and southward to Shimbashi Station,-- rather, the remains thereof; after which we headed in the general direction of Tsukiji. Who care if we went through the private garden of a wealthy merchant? There was nothing but the stumps of blackened shrubbery to greet us. Why shouldn't we cut across the grounds of an exclusive special school? No police-- or teacher-- or pupil came out to stop us. We detoured as much as a mile to find makeshift crossings over boat canals. In one place we watched a riverboat woman cooking a meal on open deck while a bloated and blackened corpse floated toward her. She pushed it away with her pole and returned to her cooking. At last we stood@on the spot where mother had periodically gone during her pregnancy-- Saint Luke's Hospital, that frowned upon the long trip north. Only the fireplace of the reception room, amid warped and twisted iron that had been beds, remained. I was informed later that, during the interval between earthquake and fire, most of the patients had been carried out to safety, though not without hardships. Nevertheless "Thanks be to God" went up from my heart because mother was not there. If a lone and dreary feeling gives goose-pimples I had them. Perhaps the theme song of Burl Ives a decade later describes it, "I'm a poor,@wayfaring stranger, Travelling through this world of woe." For two more hiking days we walked through the ruins. Along the banks of the Edo River we came upon an unfortunate creature lying on his back with nothing but a G-string for clothing. His two large toes were tied together with a thong, and his thumbs behind him in the same manner. He would emit invectives till his breath ran out; then spit in the air. A rod or two away stood a sentry. "What happened?" I inquired. "Pillaging", was the laconic reply. During martial rule execution before a firing squad is the penalty for that crime. In Ueno Park every fence, statue, building, -- even the trees were plastered with notes upon notes of people inquiring after people, and instruction how to find them. There was a rice-line more than a mile long moving toward an army mess-pot at one end, while being added upon at the other. A ladel apiece was issued each day. When a nine-year old boy received his portion and sat down alone under a pine tree I approached him. "How long have you been here?" I asked. "I ran away from school after the quake". - Have you no relatives, friends, anyone you know?" - "There is no one". "Where do you go at night?" - "I sleep here, on the ground". For years Yoshiwara was known to the traveling world. Few tourists missed it. Now it had become an escapeless incinerator. We saw roasted bodies strewn in tiny gardens where the heat had been so intense that it boiled the water and cooked goldfish in their ponds. At Hifukusho 39,000 people perished. Burning buildings had trapped them. Then the vast area of surrounding conflagration consumed all the oxygen till everyone suffocated-- unconscious! -- after which the flames slithered in and finished the job. Less than two thousand were ever identified. A mere twenty-six came out alive. Kamiyama, a 19-year old student from Otaru was one of them. With bandages still on his arm and back he and I stood together on the spot where they had suffered; and where his sister had perished. As he toppled over in the blackout a gust of wind like a tornado carried her thirty feet away. The buckle on her school belt identified her charred remains. Along the banks of the Sumida River bodies were fished out and piled like brushwood. Then they were saturated with kerosene, covered with pieces of metal roofing from the debris, and burned. We saw hundreds of such pyres. On the following day, with our mission finished, we returned to Sapporo on a relief train. Millions of refugees were transported without charge to the provinces to be cared for. Even in small towns and villages groups were at the stations to give food and clothing. Children presented numerous relief bags made in homes and schools. As we commented on the compassionate unselfishness-- the astonishing efficiency we had seen in the herculean task of setting in order and caring for so many hurt and homeless victims,-- after we had sized upon the over-all magnitude of the disaster,-- we begin to realize that we, too, were on-the-ground witnesses to one of the greatest holocaustal tragedies known in all history.

Lloyd Ivie and Siblings 1964

(The Following Information was Provided by Provided by, D. Staples, Kansai Branch, Japan.) When the Earth Begins to Tremble. . . . conclusion This ends Lloyd Ivie's account of the visit to Tokyo to report on members and missionaries. Fortunately, all were found safely despite loss of homes. By comparison, LDS lives were lost in the Kobe earthquake on 17 January 1995 which involved 6,000 total fatalities, less than 10% of the toll in the Kanto Earthquake. This reflects two things-- (1)the greater number of members and (2)the improvements in construction.Not long after the Kanto Earthquake, President Heber J. Grant, who had been among the first group of missionaries to open Japan to the Gospel, made the painful decision to close the mission. The decision reflected the serious deterioration in relations between Japan and the United States as well as the limited success of missionary work. Lloyd Ivie returned home greatly discouraged but with an affection for the Japanese people that would survive the mission closing and a World War. The converts made during the two decades the mission was opened were to remain largely faithful and form the seeds for easing the church back into Japan after the war. Some would make their way to Utah. Among them was Brother Tatsui Satoh, who translated the Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price into Japanese. This was the first complete translation. Even though the translation has since been simplified, many linguists feel Brother Satoh's translation was more literal and true to the classical language in the original. Lloyd Ivie's work with and love for the Japanese did not end with the closing of the mission. He was put to work in the Salt Lake City post office to assist Japanese members who had immigrated as well as some who had fled discrimination in California. Utah had the sad duty of hosting two relocation camps during the war. It is said that the kind treatment from the LDS members in the state and especially the encouragement of Lloyd Ivie brought some of them into the Gospel and more to Salt Lake City, even if they did not join the church. Visitors to Utah are often surprised to find the variety of Japanese culture, cusine and speakers in what was once among America's most isolated and provincial locations. We owe the pioneers of the Gospel in Japan much gratitude and the nation has been blessed by it. Perhaps as a long-term resident in Japan, one of the most rewarding things about the Christian community here is, although small, it contributes much. There is very little bigotry or badmouthing between Christian denominations. The sad experience of the war has helped to create one of the most religious tolerant people on earth and while all the foreigners who come here may not be tolerant, most of those who choose to stay certainly are. Several of Lloyd Ivie's relatives have served as missionaries in Japan and this writer, at least, will soon have spent as many years here.

Elder Lloyd O. Ivie
Former President of the Japan Mission
1921-1923
Conference Report, April 1926, p.94-96

(The Following Information was Provided by Provided by, D. Staples, Kansai Branch, Japan.)

I am sure, my brethren and sisters, that I have never in my life had a surprise quite like this. It was something that I had never expected. I really have never felt it would be possible within my lifetime to be called to speak to an audience of this size, though I have spoken to audiences in our stake assemblies. I do feel that this is a place where, above all, we should be able to receive the blessings of the Spirit of the Lord. I have felt that Spirit whenever I have come to conference, here in Salt Lake. I have always felt it here, perhaps, as much or more than at any other place.

I was given an opportunity as a missionary to labor among the Japanese people. I am sure that I enjoyed the time that I labored in that land. I have had faith in that people. I know there are many good among them. I realize that in America anything concerning the Japanese is spoken of with considerable prejudice, due perhaps to political and other reasons. But in my association with them as a missionary, I have found much good among them, and have learned to love and respect them in very deed. I really think and feel that the Japanese people are worth while.

Our coming to Japan was, perhaps, the first contact of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with other than Christian religions, with other people than those of Christian belief, the so-called Christian denominations of the world. It is our first contact, we might say, with Buddhism, a religion and philosophy which is so much different from our own; and I have found that in this we have a new work, a different problem to solve, and it is one that is going to tax the ingenuity and faith of our missionaries and of our people before that problem shall be entirely solved. At any rate, that is the way it has always seemed to me. We cannot go before those people and preach to them the gospel by quoting passages of scripture, and say that this is true or that is true, because it says so in the Bible. We must convince them with reason. But, of course, as Latter-day Saints, we know and understand that truth is reason, and that there is no other way by which we can receive knowledge and understanding except by study and by the Spirit of the Lord, and that we must reason these things out for ourselves. That is one of the strong points, I think, of the Latter-day Saints. We are not confined to what is said in any book of scripture, though it is true those books are the foundation of our religion. They make us what we are historically; but, at the same time, we as Latter-day Saints feel that we have individual testimonies, each and every one of us, concerning the gospel, because we have reasoned it out for ourselves, and such is the way that we must work. As Latter-day Saints, that is the way we must obtain our testimony, if we feel that we are strong enough to stand against those various doctrines that spring up against the work of the Lord throughout the world. I think that it is a good thing for us all to gain a testimony, not only by faith and prayer, but by reason and by study, until we can understand that these things are true, even though the scriptural books were taken away from us. I think that is one thing that we should all say as Latter-day Saints, that we could stand on the testimony we possess, even though, through some freak of nature, or otherwise, the very books by which we have been taught were taken away from us. We stand upon that. That is going to be the problem in my mind when our Church fully solves the methods, the correct methods, of doing missionary work among this people who believe in Buddhism. I believe that there will be a great work done among that people. Of course, we don't understand the origin of the Japanese. We don't understand entirely, that is of a surety, whence they came, though many opinions have been given, and much has been studied on the subject.

While I was in that country I had an opportunity to study in company with a native man, who used to come to the Book of Mormon classes. He was interested in the Book of Mormon from the viewpoint of his getting knowledge of early races; from the viewpoint of learning of the origin of the races. That was what he was studying, as a lad. He was a government employee, but as a hobby he had collected a large library. By the way, his library was destroyed in the great earthquake, and immediately thereafter he came back to the Church and bought a copy of the Book of Mormon, saying that it was the first book that he had purchased to begin his new library since the old one had been destroyed; and he had studied these problems and felt that the Japanese people had perhaps come from somewhere around Asia Minor, perhaps from Greece or from Egypt or in that district somewhere, and he had maps that he had collected showing something to that effect. It is probable that such might be the case. At any rate, it is my firm belief and opinion that there is the blood of Israel among that people. I believe that some day, although the time may not be fully ripe, that blood will show itself in greater good works in the land.

I want to bear my testimony that the restored gospel is true. I know this with all my being. The only problem in my life is to live worthy of those things which we know and understand are true and correct. I pray that the blessings of the Lord may be with us all, that we may seek continually to keep his laws and commandments, and I do it in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

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"Obedience is the price, faith is the power, love is the motive, the Spirit is the key, and Christ is the reason." The motto of the Japan Fukuoka Mission can be applied not only to missionary work, but to everyday life. -BYU President Bateman

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