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SPICE Director Gary Mukai recognized by the Japanese government


Gary in Hiroshima, his ancestral hometown.

SPICE Director Gary Mukai has been named a recipient of the 2017 Autumn Conferment of Japanese Decorations. On November 3, the government of Japan announced that Dr. Mukai will be awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays for his contributions to the promotion of friendship and mutual understanding between Japan and the United States.

The Order of the Rising Sun is a decoration in the Japanese honors system that dates back to 1875. It was established as the first national decoration awarded by the Japanese government, and it recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to Japan or its culture. It is one of the highest decorations conferred by the government.

“I am very humbled by this honor,” reflects Mukai. “I still find it hard to believe. But as someone who has always cared deeply about the U.S.–Japan relationship, this decoration truly means a lot to me. I’m just thankful I’ve had so many opportunities to be involved.”

After receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree and teaching credential from UC Berkeley, Dr. Mukai moved to Japan to teach in 1977 and has since worked to promote cross-cultural education between the United States and Japan. Besides working as a teacher in both countries, he has served as a longtime interviewer for the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Program and has been a selection committee member of the United States-Japan Foundation’s Elgin Heinz Teacher Award since its inception. At SPICE, he has developed numerous curriculum guides on Japan for K–12 classrooms as well as overseen the creation of both the Reischauer Scholars Program and Stanford e-Japan—a pair of nation-wide online courses that teach American and Japanese high school students about each others’ countries.

A date for Mukai’s formal conferment ceremony has not been announced.

To read the Consulate’s announcement of the recipients of the Order of the Rising Sun, visit

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