The Japan Foundation Award / Special Prizes (2004) - Profile

The Japan Foundation Award

Ms. Toshiko Akiyoshi (Jazz Pianist, Jazz Music Composer [Japan])

Born in Manchuria, Ms. Akiyoshi moved back to Japan with her family after World War II and began to play jazz piano in an army clubhouse in Kyushu. In 1951 she moved to Tokyo, where she formed the Cozy Quartet featuring Watanabe Sadao. The band was spotted by Oscar Peterson, who was touring Japan, as a result of which a recording was made by Norman Granz and the band was introduced to the American Jazz scene. She moved to the United States in 1956 with a scholarship from the Berklee College of Music, from where she graduated in 1959. In 1973 she formed the Toshiko Akiyoshi–Lew Tabackin Big Band with her husband Lew Tabackin in Los Angeles, and in 1977 the band’s album Insights, including the track “Minamata” (about Minamata disease), was voted number one in Down Beat magazine’s Best Album poll. The Toshiko Akiyoshi Jazz Orchestra featuring Lew Tabackin debuted in New York in 1983. Supported by the Japan Foundation, Ms. Akiyoshi toured Chile and Brazil in 1999. In 2001 she premiered “Hiroshima: Rising from the Abyss” in Hiroshima. Her big band performed a concert to mark its 30th anniversary at the Lincoln Center in 2003, and her orchestra performed its final concert at Carnegie Hall the same year. In autumn 2004 the Toshiko Akiyoshi Sextet featuring Lew Tabackin will tour Japan.


1974 Swing Journal Jazz Disc Awards, Silver Prize for album Kogun
1975 Nanri Fumio Award
1982 Down Beat Best Jazz Band, Composer, and Arranger
1996 New York City Mayor’s Liberty Award
1997 Medal with Purple Ribbon (Shijuhohsho) awarded by the Emperor of Japan; Japan Music Pen Award; Avon Women’s Cultural Center Artistic Award
1999 Jazz Hall of Fame; Yokoyama City Cultural Award
2000 The Mayor of Tokyo’s Cultural Award
2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Chamber of Commerce and Industries of Japan in New York
2004 Kennedy Center Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Award

15 Grammy Award nominations

Major publications and recordings
Autobiography Life with Jazz (1996, Iwanami Shinsho)
Compositions include “Long Yellow Road,” “Sumie,” “Kogun,” “Minamata,” “Oirantan,” and many others

The Japan Foundation Special Prizes

The Japan Foundation Special Prize for Arts and Culture

Mr. James Quandt (Senior Programmer, Cinematheque Ontario [Canada])
Mr. Quandt is the senior programmer at Cinematheque Ontario, the year-round venue of the Toronto International Film Festival. He was a film curator at the Harbourfront Cultural Centre from 1985 to 1990, and since 1990 he has been organizing retrospectives at Cinematheque Ontario. Mr. Quandt is also active as a film critic, historian, writer, and lecturer.

Major retrospective series presented

1990 Films of Tanaka Kinuyo and of Kurosawa Akira
1993–94 Films of Suzuki Seijun
1993–94 Silent films of Ozu Yasujiro
1995 “Japanese Cinema in the 90s” at the Harbourfront Cultural Centre
1997–98 Films of Imamura Shohei
2001–02 Films of Ichikawa Kon
2001–02 Films of Fukasaku Kinji
2002 Films of Ozu Yasujiro
2003 Films of Mizoguchi Kenji
2004–05 Ozu Yasujiro centenary


1995 Chevalier des Arts et Lettres from the French government for contributions to French cinema
1999 Special Citation from the American National Society of Film Critics
2001 The Clyde Gilmour Life Achievement Award from the Toronto Film Critics Association

The Japan Foundation Special Prize for Japanese-Language Education

Prof. Yi, Dok Bong (Professor of Dongduk Women’s University [Korea])

After graduating from Seoul National University of Education and the International University, Prof. Yi gained his master’s and a PhD in linguistics from Tsukuba University. In 1983 he became a professor in the Faculty of Foreign Studies at Dongduk Women’s University, and he was dean of the faculty from 1998 to 2000. Since 2001 he has been a visiting professor at Meikai University, and he was president of the Korea Association of Japanology from 1999 to 2003. From 1985 to 1998 he served as chief researcher for the fifth, sixth, and seventh revisions of the curriculum standards for high-school-level Japanese-language education commissioned by the South Korean Ministry of Education. He also served as a member of the advisory committee on language for the Korea Research Foundation from 1997 to 1998 and as a research editor for the materials on the “Writing System for Korean National Phonograms” compiled by the Korean Ministry of Education from 2001 to 2002.

Major publications (in Japanese)
Psychology of Metaphors (co-author) (1990, Tokyo: Seishin Shobo)
Multimedia-Assisted Language Learning: Theory and Practice (co-author) (1999)
Japanese-Language Education: Theory and Method (1998, Seoul: Sisa Japanese Publishing)
Japanese for Interaction (co-author) (Japanese, Korean, and Chinese versions, 2001–02, Seoul: Sisa Japanese Publishing)
Toward a Comprehensive Japanese-Language Education (co-author) (2002, Tokyo: Kokusho Kanko-kai)

Awards received

1976 Seoul Education Officer Award at the National Educational Material Exhibition
2000 Honorary Professor of Education and Volunteer Work, Dongduk Women’s University

The Japan Foundation Special Prize for Japanese Studies

Prof. Kurayoshi Takara (Professor of the University of the Ryukyus [Japan])
After graduating from the Aichi University of Education, Prof. Takara worked in the Okinawa Historiographical Institute and the Okinawa Prefectural Museum before becoming director of the Urazoe City Library in 1988. Before he was invited to the University of the Ryukyus in 1994, Prof. Takara had already spent over a decade researching Okinawan history from the broad perspective of Asian history. Since 1986 he has served as secretary-general of the International Conference on Historical Sino-Ryukyu Relations, an event which brings together historians from Okinawa, Taiwan, Fujian, and Beijing. He led the project to restore Shuri Castle as a member of various committees and supervised the historical representations in the 1993 NHK television drama series Winds of the Ryukyus.

Major publications (in Japanese)
The Era of the Ryukyus: In Search of a Great Historical Figure (1980, Chikuma Shobo)
Structure of the Ryukyu Kingdom (1987, Yoshikawa Kobunkan)
Issues in the History of the Ryuku Kingdom (1989, Hirugi-sha)
Ryukyus (1993, Iwanami Shoten)
The Ryukyu Kingdom as Part of Asia (1998, Yoshikawa Kobunkan)
History of Japan, vol.14: Medieval Japan Seen from the Periphery (co-author) (2001, Kodansha
Encyclopedia of Japanese Historical Geography, vol.48: Place Names of Okinawa (co-author) (2001, Kodansha)
History of Okinawa Prefecture (co-author) (2004, Yamakawa Shuppansha)


1981 Okinawa Times Publications Cultural Award for The Era of the Ryukyus
1987 Okinawa Cultural Award for Structure of the Ryukyu Kingdom
1988 Japan Junior Chamber TOYP Grand Prize for contributions to regional vitalization
1990 Iha Fuyu Award for Issues in the History of the Ryuku Kingdom
1997 Okinawa Studies Awards (Humanities Division)

Page Top