John Gouverneur Mosher, who wrote extensively on Japanese culture, died on September 27, 2012 at his home in Arlington, Virginia. He was 77. The cause was cardiac arrest.
Mr. Mosher graduated cum laude from South Kent School. He entered Princeton University and enrolled in the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. Upon graduation from Princeton, he went on active duty at the U.S. Naval Communications Station at Kamiseya in Japan where he developed a love of Japanese language, history and culture. He became proficient in Japanese and married Nadeshiko Yamaguchi. His most important work was Kyoto, A Contemplative Guide which remained in print continuously from 1964 to 1999. He was motivated by his disappointment in the books available at that time on Kyoto. It told the story of Kyoto's history through studying a succession of temples and palaces. One reader called the book "the best guide to anything, anywhere." Other works included Japan Caught Passing, Japanische Postamter in China und der Mandschurei mit Kwantung 1876-1922 (in German) and Japanese Post Offices in China and Manchuria. Mr. Mosher became a recognized expert on Japanese postage stamps and over the years wrote 22 articles on this subject for a German Philatelic magazine – all in German.
Mr. Mosher lived for nearly 20 years near Salzburg, Austria where he taught skiing and sang in the Salzburg Opera.
On his return to the United States in 1983, he joined USIA where he directed overseas cultural and policy programs. He and one staffer, Saul Gefter, arranged for one Afghan per province to be taught print, video and voice media skills. The International Herald Tribune reported in 1989 nine "dirty tricks" by the Americans which forced the Soviets to leave Afghanistan. One of the "dirty tricks" was his project which the Soviets called a "Dirty American propaganda campaign against the peaceful intentions of the Soviet Union . . ."
While at USIA, Mr. Mosher also served as United States member, U.S. Olympic Committee. In 1988 he became International Director, Special Olympics International. He negotiated official recognition by National Olympic Committees on site in many countries such as Brazil, USSR, Germany, The Gambia, Cote d'Ivoire, Austria and Latvia. Traveling to many parts of the world with Sargent Shriver, he helped expand the Special Olympics program from 57 to 119 countries.
He retired in 1992.
Mr. Mosher continued to write extensively in retirement. He authored Unavoidable Germans: Art vs. Politics, and the Consequences which described how a man such as Hitler could become the dictator of a country known for its philosophers, artists and musicians. He also contributed editorial columns under the banner, desde Washington, for the newspaper El Informador in in Guadalajara, Mexico. A selection of these columns was later published in his book, 2000 desde Washington.
Mr. Mosher was a founding board member of Post-Classical Ensemble. He worked closely with Music Director Angel Gil-Ordonez and Artistic Director Joseph Horowitz to make the ensemble a highly successful pioneering experimental musical laboratory in the Washington, DC cultural arena.
Mr. Mosher's first marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by Diane Lewis, his wife of 27 years.