Subject: Japanese Missions around 79-81 some some crazy
Date: Oct 20, 2009
Author: no one

Ask anyone who was there.

A crazy lesson plans where we started by showing a picture of a lantern labeled gratitude and kindness that segued into a challenge to be baptized.

Chasing young men at train stations and giving lesson on the street with mini flipcharts, prayer, everything.

Apartment bathtubs turned into baptismal fonts, apartments turned into "branches" all to keep converts AWAY from members.

Fake english classes to trick people into taking the first discussion.

I still have the worst nightmares about all that crap.

I think mormons finally exacted full revenge on Japan for WWII.


Subject: This weird new lesson plan was written by Kikuchi. Ever heard him give a prayer?


Subject: Re: This weird new lesson plan was written by Kikuchi. Ever heard him give a prayer?
Date: Oct 20 23:34
Author: Scuba

Wow, I didn't know Kikuchi had been driving missionaries insane for so long. I was in Japan from '03 to '05 and he was still coming up with psychotic new rules for missionaries to follow. Right before the "Preach My Gospel" manual was coming out, he told us to write out all the 6 discussion thirteen times each in about a months time and if we did that we would never forget the lessons. I did it, and guess what, I didn't remember a thing afterwords.

His big thing towards the end of me leaving was focusing on high school students. He said even college students were not willing to listen to lessons anymore, so we had to focus on an even younger crowd. I felt really guilt trying to stop those kids in their school uniforms. After a while though, the word got around and even they wouldn't listen to us anymore lol. I guess Kikuchi was baptized at 13yrs old or something since he was "so golden", so he wanted us to find more kids like him.

He came up with other rules like telling us when we're street contacting to saying, "sumimasen, okugai shitai n desu ga.", which is what people say when they are asking directions, from what I understand, so we could trick people to stop and talk to us. He also told people in a Zone Conference that to be true "Latter-Day Saints" we should have 8-10 kids, and American missionaries should NEVER come back and marry a Japanese girl. He said he didn't want to see any more half American-Japanese kids anymore.

That guy was freaking crazy. Even as an uber-TBM missionary I knew there was something wrong with that guy.


Subject: Fukuoka, 02-04
Date: Oct 20 23:47
Author: Ward Member

You know, I never could quite put my finger on that guy. I heard some pretty wacked out stories about him berating mishies at zone conferences and such, also he hammered how our mission was nowhere near as obedient and good as his mission he presided over in Hawaii ages ago. He seemed like he would be a complete dick, but I had the opportunity to interact with him one on one, and he just seemed like a nice old guy. Then again, apparently during a temple dedicatory prayer in Canada during the nineties he prayed for the health of the prophet Spencer W Kimball. Could be just one senile old dude.


Subject: It's Nice to Know His Mind Is Still Lost.
Date: Oct 20 23:48
Author: Laozi

If ever there were a clear case for emeritus status--or, alternatively, proof that personnel decisions are not made on the basis of inspiration--Kikuchi is it.

After ruining Japan (and I mean that literally, since he turned the Church into a joke), he came back to the USA. Here he became famous for screaming his testimony from the stand and making life horrible for bishops and stake presidents. Now he is making trouble in Japan again?

It's a pity the Church won't baptize people before age eight, since that is Kikuchi's natural constituency.


Subject: Kikuchi and his problem with my shoes
Date: Oct 20 23:57
Author: KJA

At the conclusion of my final mission conference before going home, Elder Kikuchi took notice of my severely worn out shoes (what mishie can afford to buy shoes on their mission, seriously?).

He made what I interpreted to be a lighthearted comment about how worn out they were...but my lighthearted response to him was met with a very mini-lecture on the importance of good appearance, etc. He then stuffed the equivalent of about $20 into my hand, commanding me to buy a new pair of shoes.

That would be a nice, heartwarming story about the Church-salaried church authority doing something nice for the volunteer missionary...but he wasn't being nice...he was being a "priesthood leader".

(I bought new shoes, but not shoes appropriate for a missionary, since I was heading home in just a few weeks. Why waste his money on shoes I'd never wear again?)


Subject: Re: Kikuchi and his problem with my shoes
Date: Oct 21 00:02
Author: Ward Member

Funny you mention that. As I recall, he had a problem with the lapel on my suit jacket. For the life of me, I cant remember what the problem was, but he made some comment about how "we always have to look good." My thought at the time was that a guy who looks like yoda with glasses and a cheap suit probably shouldnt be lecturing anyone on looking good.


Subject: Re: Japanese Missions around 79-81 some some crazy
Date: Oct 20 20:36
Author: Patti in Japan

Yes, no one, it was a crazy time, wasn't it. I was in Nagoya in the early eighties, and it sounds like it was very much like Tokyo Minami under Groberg. And I can understand your wanting to talk about it still, even though it's been discussed here before. A lot of people were scarred by those experiences, especially those of us who were shy and sensitive. For years I wished I could meet up with someone from the mission and just ask "What was THAT all about?"

Many people here talk about how they blew off mission rules and did what they wanted most of the time. I'm not criticizing those people at all, but it was my experience that most of the missionaries, especially the sisters, were painfully honest in reporting stats, lived by the rules, and when they didn't, felt guilty about the slightest infraction.

Some of the crazy stuff:

-In the MTC, trying to memorize a 90 page lesson plan full of Japanese honorifics (which people didn't use that much in normal conversation even back then) when I had never even studied the language before.

-P-days, which were too short to get everything done to begin with (shopping, laundry, writing letters, etc). ending at 3 instead of 5 like they did in other missions. We were supposed to spend the last two hours doing companion and district planning. We virtually had no time just to relax and enjoy ourselves.

-Being out till 10 pm no matter what, in any kind of weather. Even going out in snow or near typhoon weather unless the leaders said it was okay to stay in.

-Dendo-shos- small branches with an elder as BP- meetings often held in the elders' apartment. Sometimes it would just be 2 elders and 2 sisters holding a sacrament meeting (sometimes using donuts if we didn't have an bread for the sacrament).

-Eating mugi (whole wheat, from what looked like a feed bag) every morning for breakfast. It was a mission rule. I had a Japanese companion who was convinced we wouldn't get baptisms if we didn't eat our mugi.

-The glory sheet which came out every month showing the names of missionaries who had baptisms and how many (the number was after your name, people with the most were at the top of the list) And we were encouraged to be competitive with each other so we would see our names on that list. We also got a little cheapo ceramic Japanese doll for each baptism.

-None of the members being allowed to ask missionaries over for dinner without calling the mission home and getting permission. That was such a hassle that I can count on one hand how many times I ate dinner at a member's house.

-Eating just 2 meals a day- breakfast and one later between 2 and 4. I guess the pres. thought that would somehow make us more productive (next pres. thought it was awful and said we should go back to 3 meals a day.

-Fasting for investigators, or baptisms, and having NO energy to pedal my bicycle. Fasting was NEVER my idea, but if a companion or leader said we should, I couldn't say no.

-Being forced to set impossibly high monthly baptism goals, then being scolded like children when we didn't reach them.

-Having to make up cheers about baptism and misionary work, then perform them in front of each other at a sisters only zone conference.

-Being forced by Elder Kikuchi to get up and bear my testimony in front of hundreds of people at a stake conference when I had been in Japan just 2 months and could barely speak the language. Apparently this was something he routinely did to greenbeans.

-Hearing the old "You're not much, but you're all we've got" line at a mission conference from Elder Bradford. And here we were, hoping for some encouragement from a GA, seeing how all we got from our mission president was how we weren't good enough.

-Using a tiny toaster oven to bake cookies for investigators. Or using the cardboard insert from a pair of panty hose to make little plan of salvation puzzles for lessons. Anything like that was a welcome break from "streeting".

-Unknowingly stopping the same female college student on the street so many time that she said ITSUMO! (always). It was the first month or two of my mission. I remember breaking down in tears and telling my companion that I hated the way we were bothering people. She just told me we weren't bothering them, we had an important message to share. Even then, I wasn't so sure.

Just the tip of the iceberg, and most of this happened in the first half of my mission (81-82). The second pres. tried to make some much needed changes.


Subject: More.. .
Date: Oct 20 21:35
Author: Laozi

All that Patti said but also. . .

Having P Day cut back from all day, then to all day minus meetings time, and finally to all day until 10:30 AM (not sure how general this was)! By our standards Patti's existence was leisurely.

Having our starting time on regular days dialed back from 10:30 AM to 9:30 AM, which meant that there was no time for people to learn the language. But Kikuchi did not care: if he could squeeze a few more baptisms out of us before he was reassigned, his prospects for promotion would improve. That he was condemning his successors to a very low rate of baptism apparently did not bother him.

Being told not to teach families but only young men. It was their duty, not ours, to convert their families or to marry and create new families.

Being told not to teach anyone who would not commit to being baptised within a week.

Having the six one-hour lessons condensed into a single one-hour lesson so that we could teach the entire set in a train station, park or noodle shop.

Meeting someone in the morning, teaching the lesson plan in an hour, taking them to one hour of church, and then baptising them in the early afternoon.

Being ordered to have only a single meeting with converts after their baptisms. We were supposed to be on the streets, and fellowship was the members' responsibility. That the members were insular and did not like the new people did not matter to Kikuchi. Nor did the visible pain on the new converts' faces when they realized we were going to cut them off, an extreme insult in relationship-conscious Japan.

Ping-pong contacting, which meant running from person to person on the street. We were ordered to do this because our message was too urgent, and the time till the apocalypse so short, that we could not afford to behave with dignity. Japanese people used to stare at us like we were insane, which was in fact a correct observation.

Ping-pong promotions. Everything was determined by numbers. If you baptised a lot, you were promoted to AP. If you baptised moderately well, you became a DL. If not at all, you got demoted to senior or even junior companion. This brought the really persuasive, outgoing missionaries to the top. When one of them was caught drinking or fooling around with women, he would be demoted for a month, after which his high level of baptisms would result in his regaining his original job. Several people in my mission bounced up and down for months.

Don't ask, don't tell. Since the mission leaders all wanted baptisms, they would not inquire into the private lives of their best-performing missionaries. It could be an open secret that someone had several girlfriends whom he visited late at night, but nothing would be done as long as he avoided confronting the mission president with a confession.

A deep gulf between the members and the missionaries, as if we were in different churches. Being told not to waste time having meals or other activities with members.

Having friends' parents complain to bishops, stake presidents and even apostles about what was happening and then seeing that the Church did absolutely nothing about it. There was some change when Groberg was replaced and several of his APs were excommunicated, but until then. . . nothing.

Going home after the mission to local wards and stakes that could not conceive of what had happened and, frankly, did not want to hear about it. After all, what Bishop benefits from telling his superiors that something in the Church is fundamentally wrong? As a consequence, a subculture of ex-missionaries developed. We never fit in again--until we found this website.

Being absolutely sure that what happened in Japan was wrong and that the apostles would never have knowingly tolerated it, then watching over the decades as Kikuchi's focus on numbers and control took over the whole Church.

Again, just scratching the surface. . .


Subject: things had apparently settled down a bit by '84-'85 but ..
Date: Oct 20 21:58
Author: LabRat

[-Eating mugi (whole wheat, from what looked like a feed bag) every morning for breakfast. It was a mission rule. I had a Japanese companion who was convinced we wouldn't get baptisms if we didn't eat our mugi.]

... it wasn't a mission rule but there were some missionaries who still tried to eat mugi all the time. In my next to last area, the Japanese DL insisted we eat Mugi because our expenses/money were sacred and consecrated to the Lord, so we had to save as much as possible. My comp and me said "BS" we're getting "regular" bread, eggs, and cereal and making french toast and sausage every now and then too!

[-None of the members being allowed to ask missionaries over for dinner without calling the mission home and getting permission. That was such a hassle that I can count on one hand how many times I ate dinner at a member's house.]

I can count them on one hand too .... exactly "twice." At the same members house ... and he was an American ex-pat, former missionary who'd moved back.


Subject: Groberg Mishie
Date: Oct 20 23:46
Author: KJA

I was one of Groberg's mishies in Tokyo South (Feb 80 - Dec 81). We were encouraged to personalize the lessons, as you mentioned, though we weren't actually given the "lantern" story, that I recall.

Working under Groberg was very discouraging, for the reasons others have posted in this thread...for me, the biggest discouragement was being forced to report "expected" baptisms, even if no investigator was onboard. Of course the expectation didn't come through, so Sunday evening the Mission Assistant gave us all kinds of baloney about not being faithful enough or whatever.

I baptized 180+ people, but probably only converted one. By the time I got home, I was done with the church...even if it took me a couple more years to finally leave.

I know a few missionaries from the Groberg era who have left the church without looking back.


Subject: Re: Groberg Mishie
Date: Oct 20 23:56
Author: Laozi

The lantern was a picture used as part of "Kansha to Shinsetsu," the silly little story at the beginning of the introductory lesson. I imagine you learned that, unless Tokyo South dispensed with the homily in its version of the shortened lesson plan.

I still remember the father--the example of the opposite of "gratitude and kindness"--screaming at his son: "soto de aratte haitte koi!" Which means, effectively, "clean the fcuk up before you come in the house."

Along with Kikuchi's bizarre use of Japanese honorifics--"o-ari ni naru"--as Patti mentioned, this little gem attests to the man's very strange sense of his own country's culture.


Subject: Re: Lantern Story
Date: Oct 20 23:59
Author: KJA

i might remember having heard the story from Kikuchi himself...but for all the honor Groberg paid Kikuchi in his presence, when Kikuchi wasn't around, Groberg ran the mission in his own way.

We were never encouraged to use Kikuchi's story, that I recall.


Subject: Interesting
Date: Oct 21 01:44
Author: Laozi

One of the ironies of my mission was that the fad of the month(s) when I arrived was to memorize Kikuchi's lesson plan verbatim because, well, it was inspired and had magic powers. This was hammered into us for a very long time.

Then that AP went home and we were remodeled in Groberg's image. This meant throwing out the old lesson plan and moving to the one hour version which was, well, more inspired. So I guess that's why we all learned about Kikuchi's lantern and you didn't.

Now that I think about it, there is humor in the metaphor. We missionaries were like Diogenes, stumbling around in the dark with a lantern looking for that one, ever-elusive honest leader.


Subject: Honest Leader...ha ha. n/t


Subject: Wow...
Date: Oct 20 23:58
Author: The Truth Hurts

I count myself "lucky" (relative to you all) for getting to recently - living conditions were SOOOO much better than what you are describing now up in Tokyo. Otsukaresama deshita to all you 79-81ers!!

Much of my mission was spent cleaning up what evil Kikuchi and gang had you all doing during your days. The member roll was showing thousands, but the people showing up to sacrament on Sunday were not even 200 on a super-full week in the main parts of the city, and much less than that as you move out into the surrounding prefectures. Our MP basically had us go out and find the people on the member registry to see if they even remembered receiving baptism. We never found one who did lol.

On the topic of Kikuchi (who was still doing his stupid taikai's in my day a few years ago): I have written this once before, but Kikuchi is a very sly businessman, like many other Mormons. His claim to worldly wealth was mainly brought about by introducing tupperware to Japanese members and then "selling it" (it was more like forcing it upon) them. If the members did not buy into his products, it was almost seen like they weren't paying their tithing - it was literally a status thing, and those who didn't buy into it were made fun of from those around them. I cannot say much about myself, but I have relatives that watched this happen with others (and eventually even experienced it personally when they stopped buying). Most Japanese members hate that guy nowadays, so I have a feeling that is why he is not playing as big of a role in the church in Japan in more recent years.


Subject: Speculation on Kikuchi
Date: Oct 21 01:58
Author: Laozi

Yes, the Japanese members disfavor him. He makes a good impression one-on-one, as someone mentioned, but his arrogance becomes really annoying over extended periods of interaction and in larger meetings. As one member friend recently said, "no one who knows him likes him."

I don't, though, think that's why his career tanked. My belief is that a few things went wrong for him. First, Spencer Kimball died. Kimball had a thing for non-whites; he promoted George Lee and Kikuchi as leaders. When he died, those guys lost favor. Kikuchi was also damaged by the disaster in Japan. When Groberg went home and people discovered what had happened, the apostles had to admit (at least to themselves) that things had gone badly wrong. And they needed a scapegoat. So Kikuchi was exiled to Utah and less important jobs. Then there were his temper and his habit of screaming, which work even less well in the USA than in Japan. Finally, an old companion who bumped into him a few years ago said that yes, he does appear to be getting senile.

Yet his career was not totally ruined. Unless you criticize the prophets and apostles like Lee did, they won't take away your sinecure. So there Kikuchi sits, a demented and discredited tyrannt, in the top ranks of the seventy where we are all supposed to sustain him. That's a pretty good outcome for such a loser.


Subject: "A missionary army"
Date: Oct 21 09:20
Author: mushinja

One of my strongest memories of Kikuchi is a mission conference we had in the stake center in Kichijoji. It was early 1979, and the Carter administration had recently recognized Beijing as the official China, cutting official ties with Taiwan.

Kikuchi, with tears in his eyes, praised Jimmy Carter as an inspired leader, led by the hand of God. I was somewhat amused, because I had never heard a mormon say anything nice about Carter, and here Kikuchi was singing his praises, with tears rolling down his cheeks.

His point was that Saint Jimmy's inspired actions would open the door for missionary work in China, and that the church would need tens of thousands of missionaries for China alone, and where were those missionaries going to come from? Japan, of course. And who was going to find, teach and baptize all of these future missionaries? We were, of course. We were going to create "a missionary army, to teach the Chinese too." (from the Tokyo South Mission song)

This was one of the main reasons given for concentrating on young men and boys in our missionary work - they would go to China as missionaries, and then be priesthood leaders in Japan. I wonder how that worked out. Does anyone know how many Japanese missionaries went to mainland China? My guess would be zero.

"The Tokyo South mission is a field that's white today, blah blah blah blah."

Come on, sing along.


Subject: Re: "A missionary army"
Date: Oct 21 10:01
Author: KJA

actually, the lyrics were:

a missionary army
a prophecy come true
we'll break the bamboo curtain down
and teach the chinese, too!

but of course, we didn't.


Subject: OMG—are you serious?!? ***rolls eyes*** Yeah, I'm sure the Chinese would have welcomed
Date: Oct 21 10:18
Author: flattopSF

another Japanese invasion. The first one (1930s) with guns was bad enough. And Kikuchi was planning another Japanese invasion in the pummel them with Jesus Smith?

Sheesh! That guy was more fucked up than even I imagined him to be.

And that crying bit: Kikuchi could turn on the leaky waterworks faster than a two-bit Hollywood starlet.


Subject: This has brought back many memories of my Japanese mission n/t


Subject: Re: "A missionary army"
Date: Oct 21 13:58
Author: Laozi

Wow. I had never heard the Chinese part of the story. Very strange. That guy's megalomania had no bounds.


Subject: Re: Japanese Missions around 79-81 some some crazy
Date: Oct 21 14:50
Author: Ten Bear

I was over there from 82 to 84, Kobe. I only heard about the war stories. Our mission was rather benign compared to these stories.

Our big thing was "House Blessings." We were to knock on doors and ask if they wanted us to bless their house. That got us in the door a couple of times and then we were to slam them with the first lesson (first vision).

It never worked. I baptized zero. We taught some college students who just wanted to learn english and my comp baptized a set of twins. But I never stepped foot in the font.

All I can remember with any degree of clarity was the many times I sat in their homes and I would think to myself, "This family has it more together than my own ever did. Why am I here telling them that *I* have the key to happiness?"

I did have a companion once who enjoyed public bath houses. Once in a while we found/visited a coed one.


Subject: Stealing your own bike..
Date: Oct 21 15:07

My first experience in Japan was being taken to the local Eki (train station) to find a bike to "use". No kidding.. We would find a bike or two that "probably" had been abandoned.. and then fixed them up as "our" bike. We were specifically told NOT to buy a bike.. but use these bikes we'd find at the train stations.. Pretty bizarre. I remember some of the guys riding around on these bikes.. literally from World War II!!


Subject: "Kikuchi's Promise"
Date: Oct 21 20:11

Kikuchi is one crazy guy!

When I first went to Japan the mission was awash with a phamphlet to the missionaries to fulfill "kikuchi choro's promise" (Love the missionary pidgin english/japanese).

It said that :-
- there was 8 million people in Hokkaido.
- if we contacted 20 people a day we should teach 2 discussions;
- two discussions a day would equal x number of discussions;
- further mathematics based on raw numbers;
- so the mission would definitely baptise y number of people a month!!!

It was a promise from the lips of the Lard himself (via kikuchi). It was never 'fulfilled' because we just weren't good enough to 'make' the Lard/kikuchi keep his end of the bargain.

Then the greatest miracle ever! elder kikucki returned as the area president of Japan. We were told that the lard must really have a 'special work' for kikuchi to do in Japan as this was the FIRST TIME EVER a general authority had EVER served in THE SAME PLACE TWICE!!

The members were somewhat less excited. They made oblique comments that were loaded with double meanings "kikuchi choro wa nesshin ne". Which really meant -"he is a sociapath for the lard".

And he did not disappoint. At the first stake conference he went to in our area he dispensed with all that namby pamby, "humble servant of the lard" stuff and simply went straight to berating members at the top of his voice. Taking an apple from his pocket he bit into it and spat the chunk back out into his hand and tried to force it back in. This was like not paying tithing apparently. The was a direct statement that the members had "robbed God" too.

So missionary conference comes and what happens. Kikuchi promise 2.0. we now must contact 60 people a day and the promise is (what for it) 60 baptisms a month!! (we were baptising about 13 a month at the time). thats right. He tripled the number of his last promise (yet unfilfilled) to get a new super promise! (equaling 3 times as many baptisms)

Of course, it was predicated on our purity and worthiness.
We all know what the result of that was.

at the zone conference he then asked each district of missionaries to stand up and grilled them infront of the others. How many people baptised last month? how many people at church? (he would then throw a number out as to how many he thought the WARD should have and tasked us with making sure that number attended). WTH!?!!

sorry for the long rant. Kikuchi has hurt the work more than any other man, save Jesus only! Praise Kikuchi!


Subject: Re: Japanese Missions around 79-81 some some crazy
Date: Oct 21 20:30
Author: IDaHo

All of this shocks me. Thanks to all of you for sharing your information. I suppose I had an unrealistic idea of what missions must be like.


Subject: Re: Mission Expectations
Date: Oct 21 20:39
Author: KJA

the impressions i had during and after my mission were so VERY different than i expected. the mission was a sales experience, and that's about it. all about making the numbers, and when the numbers fell short, it was the sales peoples' fault...certainly not the fault of the product we were selling.

but in fact, we had nothing but americana to offer the japanese.
Subject: Re: Japanese Missions around 79-81 some some crazy
Date: Oct 21 21:32
Author: JC

One more Kikuchi flashback:
Zone conference. All mishies ready to hear the words of an almost living prophet Kikuchi.

One very outgoing, green missionary who has been tasked with doing a spirirtual thought/devotional get up and does the standard "we can do the lard's work" spiel, in a very 'spiritual' / pump-up-the-sales-force kind've way.

As he is talking Kikuchi walks up and stand next to the elder, puts his arm around him and waits for him to end. (you can imagine the palpable excitement in the room - something unexpectedly speshul was about to happen) Then he kind've moves himself in front of the mic and starts talking about when he was a missionary in Japan, how many members, how many branches and how it was one big mission etc.

We thought that he was going to sort've segue from the the devotional message into a "see how the work of the lard has rolled forth and will continue to roll forth" do. Then at the apex of talking about how few missionaries there was then he says:

"But even though we were few, we still taught more discussions than all you missionaries in Japan put together do now".

He told us how he would never have gone home for lunch without teaching a discussion. etc etc. we were all sitting there like we had been slapped. It started the kikuchi rant that went for hours, barely breaking for lunch. It was the beginning of the one-man kikuchi show.

This was not that long ago, maybe 5 years ago.

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