In this, the second of three planned memoirs, Dick Jorgensen takes readers along on his first around-the-world journey as he travels back to the United States from Japan in 1956. (O Tomodachi, Friend, Jorgensen’s first book, tells the story of his two years of teaching at the University of Hiroshima from 1954-56.) Through Southeast Asia and then the Middle East, to Europe and finally, boarding a ship for New York from Genoa, Jorgensen gives us a firsthand view of life and times in the mid-20th-century world, cluing us into the history of various places along the way, and reminding us that the world is ever-changing and subject to the vagaries of man and politics.
Once back home in Wisconsin, Jorgensen takes a month or so to reconnect with family and friends, and, when an unexpected offer arrives to join the staff of The Asia Foundation in San Francisco, heads off on another grand adventure.
Yūkō, which means “friendship between nations,” tells the story of Jorgensen’s tenure on The Asia Foundation’s Japan desk, and we get to skip with him down the streets of San Francisco when the woman who would become his wife emphatically says “yes.” As they begin to plan their family, life takes another unexpected turn, which launches Jorgensen onto another new path, that of educator.
Along the way, his love of all things Japanese grows and shapes his worldview, and also opens new doors to travel and teaching. All of which is chronicled in his third memoir, American Sensei, forthcoming from Weeping Willow Books.