Children's Culture Award and Music Awards

Overview of Awards

The JXTG Children's Culture Award (established in 1966)

The JXTG Children's Culture Award is presented to individuals or groups who have made major contributions to the development and improvement of children's culture in Japan. The recipients are chosen from among those who have supported children's culture in a broad range of fields, including painters of pictures for children, educators, photographers, authors of children's literature, editors of children's newspapers, organizers of musicals and others active in related areas.

The establishment of this award dates back to 1963. That year, as a project to help commemorate the 70th anniversary of the foundation of then-operating Mobil Sekiyu, entries were solicited from the general public for original children's stories based on the theme of a red horse. A total of 3,461 works were submitted. Judging the entries was a panel consisting of the six renowned authors KAWABATA Yasunari, HATANO Isoko, TSUBOI Sakae, TSUBOTA Joji, FUJITA Tamao and TSUTSUI Keisuke, with "Juni Shoku no Kureyon" (‘Crayons of 12 colors') by FUKUNAGA Reizo selected for top honors. "Akauma Monogatari" (‘The red horse stories'), a book that included this special selection with other selections, was printed and donated to elementary schools around Japan. The volume received an enthusiastic response in the fields of both education and children's literature, to honor achievements in the field of children's literature and all other aspects of children's culture.

Past awardees, selected from various professions involved in children's culture and encompassing everyone from nationally renowned personalities to those who conduct their activities on a local level.

The JXTG Music Awards (established in 1971)

The JXTG Music Awards are presented to individuals or groups who have made major contributions to the development and improvement of music culture in Japan. The awards consist of two divisions, the Japanese Traditional Music Division and the Western Classical Music Division. The Western Classical Music Division also includes a Promotion Division.

In the Japanese Traditional Music Division, candidates from a wide range of fields who have contributed to the development of Japanese traditional music, such as individuals and groups performing "gagaku", "no", "kyogen", "biwa" music, "shakuhachi" music, "sokyoku", various genres of "shamisen" music and "hayashi", as well as composers, researchers and critics have been selected for the award. Twenty-one of the awardees have been certified as Important Intangible Cultural Property holders (National Living Treasures).

In the Western Classical Music Division, awardees are selected from among those who have contributed to the development of Western music in Japan in the fields of composing, conducting and vocal music, the performance of piano, violin, cello and other Western musical instruments, and those active in music journalism, research, criticism and other areas. In 1989, the Promotion Division was established as part of the Western Classical Music Division to provide encouragement to promising young musicians.

Inclusion of categories for both Japanese traditional and Western classical music, as well as the fact that selections are made from the perspective of overall achievements to date rather than accomplishments during any single year, are unique features.

2019 Awardees of the JXTG Children's Culture Award and Music Awards

The 54th JXTG Children's Culture Award
NASU Masamoto (Author of children's literature)


Mr. Nasu was born in Hiroshima City in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan, in a district now known as Koihon-machi. After graduating from the forestry department of Shimane Agricultural University in 1965, he worked at the Tokyo office of Nittsu Shoji Co., Ltd. for two years before returning to Hiroshima, where he helped with the family calligraphy school. In 1968 he joined the Hiroshima Society for Children's Literature and began writing children's literature. Mr. Nasu has thus far written some 220 published books in a diverse array of genres ranging from non-fiction to science fiction, mystery, humor, historical stories, adventure, and literature. Of particular note is his 50-volume Zukkoke sanningumi series, which was published from 1978 to the end of 2004. The sequel series, Zukkoke chunen sanningumi, was published at a pace of one book per year beginning in 2005, and the story was completed with the publication of Zukkoke jukunen sanningumi in 2015. Other well-known books by Mr. Nasu include Bokura wa umi e, Orizuru no kodomotachi (Children of the Paper Crane), E de yomu hiroshima no genbaku (Hiroshima: A tragedy never to be repeated), Shonentachi no senjo, and Bake bake. Mr. Nasu is a member of the Nihon Jido Bungakusha Kyokai, the Japan Writers' Association, and the Japan P.E.N. Club.

Reason for the award

Since making his debut in 1972 with Kubi nashi jizo no takara, Mr. Nasu has achieved tremendous success in sharing the enjoyment of reading with multitudes of young people through his works of children's literature, which number over 220 books, including the 50-volume series Zukkoke sanningumi, of which an astonishing 25 million copies have been published, as well as the Oedo no Hyakutaro series. His meticulously illustrated picture book, E de yomu hiroshima no genbaku (Hiroshima: A Tragedy Never to be Repeated), which includes depictions of his own experience as a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, is highly acclaimed both in Japan and abroad. Works that keep memories of the atomic bombing alive for younger generations, such as Orizuru no kodomotachi (Children of the Paper Crane), Hachigatsu no kamikazari, and the three-volume work Hiroshima, and those that convey a wish for peace, including the picture book Nendo no kamisama and others, carry important messages for children, who hold the future in their hands. We present this award in recognition of Mr. Nasu's vigorous creative endeavors and numerous achievements in creating books for children in a variety of genres throughout his career, which spans nearly half a century.

(Children's Culture Award Selection Committee)

The 49th JXTG Music Award Japanese Traditional Music Division
KANZE Kiyokazu (no performer, site kata (leading role) of the Kanze ryu (school))


©Yoshikatsu Hayashi

Born in Tokyo, Mr. Kanze is the 26th Grand Master of the Kanze School of no drama, succeeding to this position in 1990. He is a descendent of the school's founder, Kan'ami; second-generation head, Zeami; and third-generation head, On'ami. As head of the Kanze school, Mr. Kanze, a leading figure in today's no world, performs more than 80 site kata (leading roles) a year, the largest number of any no performer. In addition to Japan, he has performed in France, the United States, India, Thailand, China, and other countries around the world, and his July 2016 performance at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York was a resounding success met with high praise. He has established the Kanze Library for the purpose of preserving no masks, costumes, and documents that have been handed down in the Kanze school over the generations, and has been pouring effort into making many no-related historical notes and documents, such as documents handwritten by Zeami, accessible to the general public via the Kanze Archive website, as well as promoting and expanding no research. In 2017, the Kanze Noh Theater was relocated to the Ginza district of Tokyo. As a member of the Japan Arts Council Board of Councilors, Mr. Kanze contributes to the preservation and continuance of traditional Japanese performing arts, and he is also nurturing the next generation of no performers in his role as an instructor at the Tokyo University of the Arts Faculty of Music and as the head instructor for the National Noh Theatre's training course in the three main roles of no. He has also authored, co-authored, and supervised various works, including Kanze Kiyokazu to no wo miyo, Shin'yaku fushikaden (New translation of "The Flowering Spirit"), and No wa konnani omoshiroi.

Reason for the award

No performer, site kata (leading role) of the Kanze ryu (school). Mr. KANZE Kiyokazu is the 26th grand master of the Kanze ryu (school) originating from Kan'ami (Kannami) and Zeami in the 14th and 15th centuries. He has been enchanting audiences of Japan and foreign countries by his admirable performances. He has been making efforts to secure the tradition of no as well as to positively enhance new works of no. He has established the Kanze Library in order to preserve and disclose valuable masks, costumes and documents which his house had long stored. Recently, Mr. Kanze has inaugurated the Kanze Archive through the internet for releasing this heritage. He also succeeded in relocating the Kanze no theatre to Ginza (inside the GINZA SIX building) in 2017. He has named this new theatre the 25th Kanze Sakon memorial no theatre and given it a multi-purpose nature in order to aid activities of genres other than no. We, the committee members, highly respect Mr. Kanze's attitude towards achieving responsibility for securing the 7-century-long no tradition and transmitting it to future generations, as well as his thoughtful and innovative ideas about the future of no.

(Music Award-Japanese Traditional Music Selection Committee)

The 49th JXTG Music Award Western Classical Music Division
OTAKA Tadaaki (Conductor)


©Martin Richardson

Mr. Otaka was born in Kamakura City in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. He studied at Toho Gakuen School of Music under the renowned professor Hideo Saito before traveling to Europe to study at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna under Professor Hans Swarowsky. He has appeared on many NHK educational television programs and has been instrumental in spreading knowledge and enlightenment about classical music. In addition to performing regularly as a guest conductor with Japan's major orchestras, Mr. Otaka has also made guest appearances with orchestras throughout the world, including the London Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. He received the Suntory Music Award in 1991 and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II in 1997. In 1999, he became the first Japanese to be presented with the Elgar Medal by the Elgar Society (UK). In addition to his roles as permanent conductor of the NHK Symphony Orchestra, conductor laureate of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, honorary music director of the Sapporo Symphony Orchestra, conductor laureate of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, honorary guest conductor of the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, and honorary conductor laureate of the Kioi Hall Chamber Orchestra, Mr. Otaka was appointed as music director of the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra in 2018. Currently, he is an honorary professor of the Tokyo University of the Arts, a visiting professor at Soai University and the Kyoto City University of Arts, and a guest professor at the Kunitachi College of Music.

Reason for the award

It is said that a conductor comes into his own beginning in his 70s, and this is certainly true of Mr. Otaka, who had already achieved great success both in Japan and abroad in roles such as principal conductor and music director of many renowned orchestras before becoming music director of the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra in 2018. He marked his inaugural year in that capacity with performances of the complete cycle of Beethoven symphonies, a severe test of the abilities of orchestras and conductors alike, performing the works in the modern-day style. He succeeded brilliantly, astounding audiences with his bold, mature interpretation, demonstrating that the true essence of the works transcends performance style. This incomparable feat, which will go down in the orchestra's history as one of its greatest accomplishments, is the culmination of Mr. Ogata's artistry as a conductor. We present this award with the certainty that he will soar to even greater heights in the future.

(Music Award-Western Music Selection Committee)

The 49th JXTG Music Award Western Classical Music Promotion Division
YOSHII Mizuho (Oboe)


©Satoko Imazu

Ms. Yoshii was born in Kamakura City in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. After enrolling at Tokyo University of the Arts, she traveled to Germany to study at the University of Music Karlsruhe, from which she graduated at the top of her class. In addition to winning first place at the Music Competition of Japan, Ms. Yoshii has placed at the Barbirolli International Oboe Festival and Competition (UK) and the Japan Wind and Percussion Competition. Her talent was recognized by conductor Claudio Abbado, and as principal oboist of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, she has been performing mainly in Europe since 2000. In addition to Claudio Abbado, with whom she has performed more than 200 times, Ms. Yoshii has worked closely with other eminent conductors such as Gunter Wand, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Pierre Boulez, and Daniel Harding, and is frequently invited to perform with many of Europe's principal orchestras and ensembles as guest principal oboist. She also has a flourishing career as a soloist and ensemble player, and has performed with the Tetzlaff Quartett, pianist Leif Ove Andsnes, and clarinetist Martin Fröst. Through all of her musical activities, she has proven herself to be a world-class oboist, and she captivates audiences around the globe with her mellifluous timbre and rich musicality. Ms. Yoshii has been invited to teach master classes at the Manhattan School of Music as well as in the UK, Spain, Germany, Colombia, Venezuela, and other countries, providing instruction for the next generation of oboists. She is a part-time instructor at the Tokyo University of the Arts and a founding member of the Lucerne Festival Orchestra.

Reason for the award

Imbued with a remarkable expressiveness, the oboe performances of Ms. Yoshii manifest a powerful evocativeness that instantly conveys the joy of music. She went to Europe at a young age to devote herself to her musical development, and has subsequently served for many years as the principal oboist of the renowned ensemble, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Her relocation to Kamakura, her hometown, in recent years has enabled her to focus more efforts on solo and chamber music activities in Japan. One notable endeavor is the ReSonance Concert Series in Kamakura, an innovative project founded by Ms. Yoshii in 2015 in which she collaborates with other performing artists as well as those in different fields, performing at temples, schools, and other such venues. We present this award in recognition of her intense musical focus as well as her high degree of social awareness in seeking new ways to present music outside of conventional forms.

(Music Award-Western Music Selection Committee)

Selection Committees

JXTG Children's Culture Award NOGAMI Akira Children's Culture Researcher
NAKAI Koji Broadcasting Consultant
Former Professor, University of the Sacred Heart
YAMAGIWA Juichi President, Kyoto University
JXTG Music Award - Japanese Traditional Music TOKUMARU Yosihiko Professor Emeritus of Ochanomizu University
Professor of Seitoku University
TSUKAHARA Yasuko Professor, Tokyo University of the Arts
KANO Mari Researcher of Japanese music
JXTG Music Award - Western Classical Music SEKINE Reiko Music Critic
NAKAMURA Takayoshi Chairman of the Board and Professor Emeritus, Osaka College of Music
FUNAKI Atsuya Music Critic

List of Past Awardees

The 54th JXTG Children's Culture Award and The 49th JXTG Music Awards have been selected for "This is MECENAT 2019" certification by the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts.

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