The Mountain View Japanese Seventh-Day Adventist Church (MVJSDAC), the first Japanese church outside Japan, has its roots in the early 1900's as Japanese immigrated to the West Coast of the United States. Retired Bible worker Elizabeth Swift established an English school in Oakland to help these Japanese immigrants. One of her students, Kinichi Nozaki, became an ordained pastor and energetic servant of God who founded Japanese churches around the world. Original families from Elder Nozaki's missionary work in the Bay area can still be found worshipping at MVJSDAC.
Church founder Kinichi Nozaki organized the first Japanese Seventh-Day Adventist church in America in Mountain View, California in 1926.
In 1904, Kinichi Nozaki was an 18-year-old Buddhist immigrant from Japan who decided to go to America to study advanced farming methods. From Yokohama, Japan he boarded a small steamship bound for Victoria, Canada. The ship's screw propeller suddenly broke off and sank into the ocean nearly causing the passengers to do the same. (For more details, talk with Esther Hashimoto or read An Autobiography: Kinichi Nozaki , 1981)
After that narrow escape at sea, Nozaki arrived in San Francisco and encountered strong anti-Japanese sentiment at a time when blatant racial prejudice prevailed. Japanese children were prohibited from attending public schools. Nozaki felt fortunate to finally find employment on a farm. For 10 hours of hard work, he was paid $1.10 per day, hardly enough to cover for room and board. During the winter with heavy rains and few farm jobs, Nozaki worked as a domestic laborer for $15 per month in Los Gatos. He got up before 5:00 a.m. to milk the cows and did domestic chores until 9:00 p.m. He was fed mainly bacon and potatoes fried in lard. The diet was so poor that his health suffered and he could hardly work.
Nozaki moved to Oakland and did gardening work. Needing to learn more English, he attended the private English school specifically for the Japanese people led by retired Bible worker Elizabeth Swift. On Friday nights, instead of English classes, she conducted Bible studies. Her motherly love and genuine kindness deeply impressed Nozaki. He thought, "When other people hated the Japanese so, why did this woman love us? It might be her religion which made her so thoughtful and kind. I determined in my heart to attend the Bible classes, study the Scriptures and find out for myself."
In 1909, while working at the home of Stephen Haskell, President of the California SDA Conference, he read Early Writings by Ellen White who frequently visited the President. He had the privilege of hearing their conversations about the work of the church. Mrs. White always greeted him warmly saying "How are you today brother Nozaki?" He found her to be soft-spoken and kind. He often ate at the same table with Mrs. White and the Haskells. Impressed by the genuine Christian character of Ellen White, the Haskells, Elizabeth Swift; convinced of Biblical truths, and touched by the love of God, Nozaki was baptized into the Seventh-Day Adventist church in 1910.
After his baptism, Nozaki completed a Bible course in Loma Linda and returned to do missionary work in the Japanese community in the Bay Area for several years. Feeling the need for advanced Bible doctrine courses to do more effective ministry, Nozaki matriculated at Pacific Union College. In 1922, the California Seventh-Day Adventist Conference hired Nozaki to work among the growing Japanese communities in Seattle, Washington; San Francisco, California; and other Bay Area cities.
In 1923, Nozaki married Fumiko Takechi and together they followed Jesus example in missionary work spending most of their time helping others in sickness and sharing God's word as the opportunities arose. Whenever Elder and Mrs. Nozaki heard of anyone injured or ill, they visited them. They often stayed with the sick for days, cooking for them, giving them hydrotherapy, taking them to doctors, and acting as their translators. Though not wealthy, they took many needy people into their home, caring for some for years. Gradually, the Japanese community learned to trust the Nozakis and turned to them when in distress. As a result of their works of mercy, many asked for Bible studies and were converted.
In 1935, three children of Mr. and Mrs. Yahiu Mitoma of Suisun, California were in a small fishing boat that overturned on the Sacramento River. Nigisa and Enry disappeared underwater. Susumu managed to stay afloat until his brother Takashi rescued him. Elder & Mrs. Nozaki was able to comfort the family during this tragedy and as a result, Mr. and Mrs. Mitoma along with their remaining sons, Takashi, Crashi and Susumu joined their sisters Mary and Susanna in baptism into the Seventh-Day Adventist Church.
Language Schools in Mountain View
In 1912, Shinobu's father Yoshimatsu Watanabe opened an English night school near the Mountain View railroad station assisted by workers from the nearby Pacific Press Publishing Association. Later, the Japanese community asked him and his wife to teach Japanese to their children. With the help of Joe Matsumura's mother, Tokino Matsumura, school enrollment peaked at 200. The Swedish family of Carl Lindholm opened their home at 982 Wright Avenue to the small company of Japanese believers for Bible studies and hymn singing and occasionally provided simple meals.
After World War II, Naturalization Schools were taught by Elder B.P. Hoffman to help the Isseis gain their United States citizenship. Elder Nozaki translated into Japanese the textbook on the United States Constitution.
With God's help, Elder Nozaki won hundreds of souls to Christ including Robert Asatani 's mother; Elizabeth Ogata 's mother; Fumi Matsumura 's grandfather and parents; Susumu Mitoma 's parents; Frank & Peter Yoshida 's parents; and Mathew Yoshida 's parents.
Mountain View Church Organized
On May 2, 1926, through God's providence, Pastor Kinichi Nozaki founded the first Japanese Seventh-day Adventist Church outside of Japan in Mountain View California. The existing Mountain View Japanese Seventh-Day Adventist Church was dedicated on November 10, 1973.
Charter members were Bettie Togami 's mother, Tomi Kodama (husband Saburoemon Kodama joined later), Ichitaro Matsuda, Yasumatsu Matsumura, Hozo Nakamoto, and Mr. Nakayama, Ichiro Nomura, Kane Ogata Takujiro Tanaka, Yashimatsu and Michiko Watanabe. Many of Nozaki's converts, relatives, and descendants are active members today.
All three Nozaki children have been workers in the Lord's service. Esther Nozaki Hashimoto has served God as a school nurse, Pathfinder Leader, deaconess, Sabbath School teacher, church pianist, editor of the Japanese Views (newsletter to the worldwide Japanese SDA community), gourmet vegetarian cook, and performed numerous missions of mercy. With her husband Leon Hashimoto, Esther has successfully reared a nurse, physician and businessman. Dr. Mary Nozaki Kimura worked as a doctor in Southern California; served as a medical missionary in Japan with her doctor husband Tats Kimora; conducted Bible studies; served actively in local churches; and reared two physicians and a dentist. Dr. Joseph Nozaki is a surgeon, ordained minister, church planter, and missionary to South America, Asia and the Pacific Islands. In 1994, he won a prestigious humanitarian award for his medical work. Appearing on national television in Japan, he had an audience with Emperor Akihito. He has been called the "Albert Schweitzer of Paraguay