Berkeley Japan Prize

The Berkeley Japan Prize is a lifetime achievement award from the Center for Japanese Studies to an individual who has made significant contributions in furthering the understanding of Japan on the global stage.

2008-2009 Berkeley Japan Prize - inaugural

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami, award-winning Japanese writer and
novelist, receives the inaugural
Berkeley Japan Prize on October 11, 2008

Recipient: Haruki Murakami

Claiming a global readership and internationally recognized as Japan's leading novelist, writer, and translator, Haruki Murakami is winner of the Yomiuri Prize for his critically acclaimed The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. The author's numerous works, which have been translated into 36 languages, lead the reader along the interstices between the mundane and the sublime. His work has been described as easily accessible, yet profoundly complex.

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2009-2010 Berkeley Japan Prize

Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki, world renowed Japanese animator,
receives the Berkeley Japan Prize on
July 25, 2009

Recipient: Hayao Miyazaki

For nearly fifty years, internationally acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki has been enchanting the world with fantastic, meticulously composed and emotionally soaring films, making him one of the world's most respected and revered animators and directors. Among the dozens of films he has written, directed and animated, his best-known and beloved include: My Neighbor Totoro (1988); Kiki's Delivery Service (1989); Princess Mononoke (1997); Spirited Away (2001; Oscar® winner for Best Animated Feature); and Howl's Moving Castle (2004; Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature).

Miyazaki founded his now legendary animation studio, Studio Ghibli, in 1985, shortly after the release of his second major film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. After Studio Ghibli became a household name in Japan, it sought to bring their films overseas and built a partnership with the Walt Disney Company. In 2002, Miyazaki's masterpiece Spirited Away won the Oscar for best animated feature film — the first Japanese animated film ever to win the award. Audience reaction to Spirited Away was unprecedented. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times heralded Spirited Away as: "..enchanting and delightful in its own way, and has a good heart. It is the best animated film of recent years... the Japanese master who is a god to the Disney animators."

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The Berkeley Japan New Vision Award is a prize the Center for Japanese Studies awards to an individual who has, in recent times, dramatically transformed our vision of Japan.

2009-2010 Berkeley Japan New Vision Award - inaugural

Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood, legendary actor, director, and producer,
receives the inaugural Berkeley Japan
New Vision Award on January 23, 2009

Recipient: Clint Eastwood

Clint Eastwood's Flags of Our Father and Letters from Iwo Jima depicted one of the most horrific WWII battles in the Pacific theater from both the American and Japanese points of view. Letters from Iwo Jima, based on letters written by General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (portrayed in the film by Ken Watanabe), is the first major Hollywood film on the Pacific War that managed to portray the Japanese from the perspective of ordinary soldiers and as fellow human beings.

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2010-2011 Berkeley Japan New Vision Award


Jero, award winning enka singer, receives the
Berkeley Japan New Vision Award on April 8, 2011

Recipient: Jero (Jerome White Jr.)

Part Japanese and part African American, Jero is enka's rising star ever since his hit single Umiyuki burst onto the charts in 2008. Winner of the 2008 Best New Artist Award at the Japan Record Awards and the 2011 Berkeley Japan New Vision Award, he has also regularly appeared on Japanese TV and commercials as well as performing at the prestigious New Year's Eve Kôhaku Utagassen concert twice.

Singing traditional Japanese ballads in an American idiom, not only has Jero rekindled an interest in enka among the younger generation of Japanese but he has also opened up the possibilities for fluent Japanese-speakers from around the world breaking into the entertainment and other industries in Japan. Given his mixed-race background, he has also become a symbol for the acceptance of a more multiethnic society for 21st-century Japan.

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2013 Berkeley Japan Prize

Recipient: Ryuichi Sakamoto

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Ryuichi Sakamoto

Ryuichi Sakamoto began his career in 1978 as a founding member of the Yellow Magic Orchestra, and emerged as a pioneer in electronic music. He began acting and composing for film with Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence (1983). His score for The Last Emperor (1987) won him an Academy Award for Best Original Score, Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, and Grammy Award for Best Score Soundtrack Album for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media. His score for The Sheltering Sky (1990) won him his second Golden Globe Award, and his score for Little Buddha (1993) received another Grammy Award nomination.

Sakamoto's visionary and genre-defying work as a musician, with his dozens of film scores, pop music, classical music as well as experimental glitch, has demonstrated universal appeal beyond Japan. His collaborations have included some of the biggest musical stars in the world, such as Michael Jackson, and prominent cultural figures, such as the Dalai Lama. He helped to shape musical thinking in the incorporation of electronic instruments. Sakamoto has also been an outspoken advocate of eco-activism. Among his film scores are those for Original Child Bomb: Meditations on the Nuclear Age (2004), a short film about the aftermath of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Alexei and the Spring, a documentary about a Belarus village 180 kilometers downwind of Chernobyl. After the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, he organized the No Nukes 2012 Concert in Chiba, Japan.

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