Aomori-ken Locations

Aomori, GoshogawaraHachinohe, Hirosaki, Misawa, Towada



This northernmost branch meetinghouse is about 20-minutes walk from the eki (map), (street view) at Nagashima 4-22-23 and was completed in 1984. An elevator was added in the past few years (seeking current picture), and in 2018, the branch celebrated 50 years since its founding in 1968. 
Aomori is an important port city because of its proximity to Hakodate, the southern port city of Hokkaido. The Seikan Tunnel now joins Aomori and Hakodate with a rail line, replacing the renraku sen ferries that once linked those cities. The tunnel, which opened in 1988, is the world's longest railway tunnel at 53.85 kilometers. Construction on the Touhoku Shinkansen extension from Hachinohe to Shin-Aomori was completed in 2010, and was completed past Aomori through the tunnel to Hakodate in March 2016. Aomori is famous among missionaries for its snow, which in heavy snow years can cover the first floor of buildings.

Historic Aomori

August 1974 photo of the house that comprised Aomori's combined meetinghouse/elder's quarters.  (photo courtesy: John Ericson)  John says Elder Lefler is visible practicing the familiar futon drying/sun disinfecting activity.  I'm hoping to get the address of this location-if you can assist, yoroshiku.


I have an address of Kitakanazawa 1-5-15 as of the end of 1976 for this picture, which I believe was used as a combined meetinghouse/elder's quaTrters from 1975-1983.

In 1974-77, missionaries also lived in 'Aomori East,' located at Tsukurimichi aza Sawada 266-3#2, but I believe attended church in Aomori. 



Groundbreaking ceremony picture for the current Nagashima building. At the time, our own (moustached) Ken White (and wife Lynda) were teaching English in Aomori. He was serving as branch president at the time. Seated to his left is mission president Shimabukuro and Kubota Koji from Hachinohe, who was district president at the time.






In December 2017, two missionaries were assigned to live in and open work in Goshogawara, a remote town of over 50,000 located on the Tsugaru peninsula about 45 minutes (by train - JR Gonō line) north of Hirosaki. The private Tsugaru Railway Line, which runs north, up the middle of the Tsugaru penninsula, originates here.  Here's info from the post on the Mission Newsroom:

"五所川原市に新しい宣教師のアパートがオープンしました!  雪と冷たい風が吹く中、まだ集会を開く場所もありませんが、二人共、この地での伝道をとても頑張っています‼︎
We opened Goshogawara City to missionary work!  Having snow and cold winds they don’t have a meeting place yet, but they are so excited to work there."  

Since Hirosaki is relatively close, we assume, at least for now, meetings for this area will be held together with the branch in Hirosaki.



Hachinohe has had missionaries since 1968.  Hachinohe's meetinghouse is located only one block from the Hon-Hachinohe (mid-city) eki (station) (map) (street view) and was dedicated 10 June 1984. This floor plan is fairly common in other areas of Japan, with the chapel on the second floor along with some classrooms, and a kitchen and more classrooms on the ground floor. Hachinohe is a port and industrial city of about 250,000.  The branch celebrated their 40th year in 2008 and their 50th anniversary since missionaries first arrived in 2018 - here's  articles and pictures.




Historic Hachinohe

Hachinohe shibu at Kamikazushi-chou 5, right off of the start of the main downtown drag at Aramachi--was the second meetinghouse established in Hachinohe, and was used in the 1970s until April 1975. This building had unusually thick walls (>1 ft. thick). Neither of this nor the Numadate meetinghouse buildings still stand.


This combination meetinghouse/missionary quarters was at Numadate 1-2-20, near then-Branch President KubotaKyoudai's house, and only a few blocks towards the pier from the built building location above. Elders quarters and branch president's office were located upstairs. Soon after we moved here in April 1975, this became a 6-man branch. Notice the fine fleet of morau'd bicycles poised in front of our home.
Okay, so it didn't look so hot from the front, but we fixed it up pretty nicely on the inside--Rex Nelson showed us all that carpentry skill!! Go-kurousama! This was a wall to make the chapel a separate room.
This meetinghouse, located in the Kashiwazaki neighborhood, was used in the early 1980s until the 'built building' in Shiroshita was completed.














The mission's newest meetinghouse at Hirosaki (map) is located at Jōtōchūō 3-2-10, about a 10-minute walk behind the eki. It was completed on schedule in less than six months, with the first Sunday meetings held on 01 Jan 2017 and dedication on 30 Apr 2017. A converted storefront building that was used as the previous meetinghouse since 1991 was bulldozed to make way for the new chapel. This is one of the smallest church-built buildings in the mission, but it is surely a joy and a blessing for the faithful members there and for missionaries who served in Hirosaki. Hirosaki is famous for its large park and castle grounds and sakura matsuri (cherry blossom festival) held there every year in late April. Aomori-ken is famous for its delicious apples; many orchards can be found in the area between Hirosaki and the city of Aomori. 






































This commemorative picture was taken 30 Apr 2017 in conjuction the new Hirosaki meetinghouse dedication, which was done by Elder Otahara, Area Seventy. President Jeffrey Smith and Sister Karen Smith, then presiding over the Sendai Mission, are in the center.



Historic Hirosaki

Hirosaki's first combination meetinghouse / missionary quarters was located at Wakato Cho 24-1, not far from Hirosaki Castle grounds, and was used from 1970 through 1986. Stuart McHardy (78-80) noted it was known among missionaries as the 'samurai house' and that the building is no longer standing.
From Feb 1986 to September 1991, Hirosaki's meetinghouse was located near Hirosaki University at Miyuki Cho 6-2.  If anyone has a picture of this building that we can include here, please 'Contact Us.' 
This was the meetinghouse used from 1991 to 2016. It was demolished to make way for the new church-built building described above.  Apparently the church bought the property early on; when I first visited here in 1996, the building still had store-front shutters.  The glass entrance and nice logo were added some time in the 2000s.











Misawa didn't have a separate meetinghouse back in the 1970s, but missionaries apparently started living there in the 1980s. Misawa's church building is highly visible, directly across the street from the omote (main/front) entrance of the eki (map) (street view). The meetinghouse also serves an English-speaking military branch from the nearby US Air Base, for which Misawa is famous. The building was finished in 1986 and a remodeling/expansion was completed in 2008 to accommodate the large English-speaking branch from the base. The missionary apartment in Misawa was temporarily closed in 2009 due to low missionary numbers.  By 2012, Misawa was served by two missionaries commuting from Hachinohe, and by 2014, Misawa's missionary apartment was reopened. Both of these pictures are courtesy of Pres. Murakami of Aomori. The one below shows the expansion of the building and the proximity to the eki (meetinghouse marked with red asterisk). 


Towada (population 63,000 (map)) is located about 25 minutes from Misawa or about 40 minutes from Hachinohe by car. Towada had missionaries starting in 1979, according to RM Steven Ison (78-80), and a Japanese branch before Misawa had one, according to RM Arnold Stonebrink (82-83). We're unsure when the branch was closed or when missionaries were moved out (1989?) but we assume that after the branch closed, members who live in Towada attended church in Misawa or Hachinohe.
The Towada area is famous for Towada-ko (Lake Towada), the largest crater lake in Japan, which is a popular tourist destination. Until 2012, a private railway linked Misawa and the city of Towada. Admin Note: When I served in Hachinohe in 1975, we traveled this way to look up referrals in Towada.
In October 2017, President Sekiguchi announced Towada would be reopened and two missionaries would be assigned to live there. From his post: "A new apartment has been opened at Towada and two missionaries were assigned there...while no branch is organized yet, they will use the community center for their meetings. President and Sister Sekiguchi visited a historical Catholic church and met with the Priest to let him know about our missionaries arrival. They also inquired about using their chapel for our Sunday services." "青森県の十和田市に新たに2名の宣教師が送られました。先輩としてジェンセン長老、後輩として来日したばかりの賀久長老が選ばれました。まだ集会所はありません。しばらくは公民館などを借りて集会が開催されます。関口伝道部会長夫妻は伝道を開始するにあたって、歴史的なチャペルを持つカトリック教会を表敬訪問しました。また、カトリック教会の神父さんに、一時的にカトリック教会のチャペルを利用させていただく提案もしました。十和田に派遣された宣教師たちは希望に溢れています。"
As we recieve more news or pictures, we'll post them here.

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