One year to the day after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami I am signing off on the Japan blog. The disaster-in-installments that was kicked off by the March 11 quake, the largest in Japanese history, was a primary focus of this blog, and Japan’s reaction shed light onto characteristics of Japanese society. The purpose of my blog as stated in my first post was to “make sense of Japan for a Western audience.” The international-headline news that came out from Japan this past year gave me many opportunities to explore themes in Japanese society and discuss the issues facing contemporary Japan. I learned a lot about Japan over the past year and got to exchange e-mails with lots of readers. I thank all of my readers for the lively correspondence and valuable insights. I also want to thank my senior blogger, Faheem Haider, and FPA editor/producer Robert Nolan for their guidance over the past year. I realize I was quite critical of Japan over the past year. It is hard to write about the issues without becoming cynical at times. I could have written, “Everything is sunny and peachy here in Okayama,” but that would not have made for a very interesting (or long) blog. So I’d like to end on a more upbeat note. Japan is a fascinating and wonderful country. The Japanese have a rich cultural heritage. Whether you travel to Japan to see historical sights, climb Mt. Fuji, partake in the unique and special culinary arts, visit a hot spring, or simply wander the resplendent streets of Tokyo, there is plenty to love about Japan. And while I found some elements of Japanese culture baffling, and I was occasionally frustrated with the bone-headed rhetoric of Tokyo’s politicians, I find the Japanese to be generally decent people, who are kind by nature and have an off-beat sense of humor, and every bit as good as Americans. The only thing left to say is sayonara and thanks for reading!

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