Five facts about The Salvation Army in Japan

by Captain Christopher Marques


  1. The first Salvation Army officers from England came to Japan in 1895 to start the work. At the port in Yokohama, they arrived wearing traditional Japanese “yukata,” which they thought would help them blend into the culture. But “yukata” are actually Japanese pajamas or nightclothes, so the Japanese people who greeted had a good laugh. It did draw attention, just not the kind the English officers were looking for!
  1. After training for only two months, Gunpei Yamamuro became the first Japanese officer. This year the Japan Territory will release a movie about his life.
  1. Gunpei married Kieko Sato. During their honeymoon, he wrote the world renown “The Common People’s Gospel.” Because he wrote passionately (and in a hurry) his writing was difficult to read, but his lovely new wife helped to rewrite all the pages more clearly.
  1. The first ambulance in Japan was used at the Booth Memorial Tuberculosis Sanatorium in 1923.
  1. After the 6.9 magnitude Kobe earthquake hit Japan in 1995, the country received its first canteen car (used, not new) from the United States. Northwest Airlines flew it to Narita Airport (in Tokyo) free-of-charge. It was so big they had to deflate the tires in order to fit it inside of the plane. The canteen car was tremendously helpful but eventually broke down after intense use. Afterward, a new canteen car (the first built in Japan) was manufactured thanks to funding from the U.S. It is currently located in Hokkaido and is still in use.




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