John Thomas Gregersen, former Cultural Director of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach, has been honored by the Government of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun, Silver Rays – one of the highest ranking honors awarded to civilians who have contributed to the strengthening of bilateral relations between Japan and other countries.
A resident of Delray Beach, Gregersen received the honor from Consul General of Japan Kenji Hirata at a celebration hosted by the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Miami.
Gregersen held several positions at the museum during his tenure, first as Assistant Curator in 1978, and retiring after 35 years of service as Cultural Director in 2013.
“This is one of the most prestigious honors granted by His Majesty the Emperor of Japan,” said Consul General Hirata. “Thanks to Mr. Gregersen’s efforts, the museum built up their collection and received a multitude of grants for exhibition development and artifact conservation, including numerous grants from the National Endowment of the Arts and the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation.”
Since his retirement from Morikami, Gregersen has continued researching the history of Japanese colonies in Florida, especially the Yamato Colony, and is revising a manuscript on the subject. He is also writing an article on the Middleburg Colony and Florida’s Japanese immigration controversy of 1913. With the assistance of fellow former Morikami employee Reiko Nishioka, Gregersen has recently completed an English translation of a Japanese language book about the Yamato Colony titled Yamato Colony: The Pioneers Who Brought Japan to Florida by author Ryusuke Kawai.
Gregersen previously received the Foreign Minister’s Commendation by the Japanese Foreign Ministry and the Consulate-General of Japan in Miami in March 2014.