New Memoir by Santa Barbara Author Dick Jorgensen Captures a Fascinating Slice of History in Postwar Japan

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O Tomodachi (Friend), an Amazon #1 Hot New Release in Education/History, brings to life the art, culture, influences and daily life of a long-lost era through the vivid recollections of a young American teacher and World War II veteran.

O Tomodachi cover

"Dick Jorgensen…reminds us of a Japan we can only imagine today, in the mind’s eye and old newsreels. His is a great story of an American’s love affair with a Japan that no longer exists, yet remains the Japan of our longings."

In 1954, as a 29-year-old grad student and World War II veteran, Richard “Dick” Jorgensen was selected to be one of four “ambassador” teachers in a first-ever exchange program between the United States and Japan, representing the University of Michigan, under the auspices of The Asia Foundation. He spent the next two years teaching at the University of Hiroshima, which was founded in the wake of the atomic bomb detonation in 1945. Thus began an incredible journey for, as he describes himself, a “kid from the Midwest.”

O Tomodachi (Friend)—Jorgensen’s vibrant, detailed memoir of observing, experiencing, and absorbing a bygone culture—is sure to fascinate postwar Japan history buffs, Asian art enthusiasts, travel organization members, book groups, students and educators of Asian and Japanese culture, and anyone with an interest in the Japan of yesteryear. Within ten days of its launch on Amazon, the Kindle version attained #1 best-selling Hot New Release status in the Education/History category.

In his Foreword, David E. Sanger, Chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times, says, “Dick…reminds us of a Japan we can only imagine today, in the mind’s eye and old newsreels. His is a great story of an American’s love affair with a Japan that no longer exists, yet remains the Japan of our longings.”

Jorgensen’s experience was the start of a lifelong love affair with travel in general and Japanese culture, architecture and history in particular. While in Japan, he met luminaries in the fields of history, politics and education, lived with two host families, and discovered new ways to reach his young students, all of whom grew up in a Japan ravaged by World War II. Jorgensen visited many regions of the country, including Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe, Sapporo, and Nagasaki. Featuring dozens of period photos, O Tomodachi treats readers to luscious descriptions of all those cities, while at the same time providing histories that deepen understanding and perspective.

As a work of history, O Tomodachi (which means “friend” in Japanese) provides a perspective on postwar Japan that is both factual and accessible. As a memoir, it provides a wonderful sense of what it was like for a young American to go off to a foreign land, a place that had only recently been the enemy of the United States, and to open himself to new experiences and people. Jorgensen fell in love with Japan, and that love has lasted a lifetime.

Following the events described in his book, Jorgensen took a position as Program Officer with The Asia Foundation and directed the inaugural History Institute for Teachers at the University of California, Berkeley. He later was named the U.S. Department of Education’s national director of the Teacher Corps/Peace Corps program and director of dissemination for programs in foreign languages and international studies in America.

Interested readers can order O Tomodachi (Friend) from in both hardcover ($44.95) & Kindle ($7.99) versions. At 278 pages, it is the first volume in a planned series of three memoirs. Published by Weeping Willow Books, August 2015.

To book speaking or book signing engagements, contact Dick Jorgensen through his website:

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