Children's Culture Award and Music Awards

Overview of Awards

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

The ENEOS 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 ENEOS Music Awards (established in 1971)

The ENEOS 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-three 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.

2020 Awardees of the ENEOS Children's Culture Award and Music Awards

The 55th ENEOS Children's Culture Award
OCHIAI Keiko (Author)


©Kaminokawa Chihaya

Born in Tochigi Prefecture, Ms. Ochiai moved to Tokyo before she entered elementary school, where she lived with her mother in an apartment building facing a sprawling field. The field was a treasure trove of plants and insects, and at that time Ms. Ochiai's favorite books were plant encyclopedias and other children's illustrated guides. During her student days, her favorite authors were Katherine Mansfield, Katherine Anne Porter, and other Western female writers. Ms. Ochiai found employment with a commercial broadcasting station, and was strongly drawn to specialist children's bookstores in Western countries that she saw while on overseas reporting assignments. Inspired, she founded Crayonhouse under her philosophy "If it doesn't exist, create it!" Celebrating its 45th anniversary in December 2020, Crayonhouse Tokyo features an organic restaurant, a floor of books for both children and adults, safe and worry-free toys, women's books, and organic living essentials. Crayonhouse Osaka has been in operation for 29 years. Ms. Ochiai also publishes the general parenting magazine "Gekkan Kuyon" and the organic lifestyle magazine "Ii-ne". She also publishes and translates many picture books. Her recent publications include "Nakikata-wo wasureteita" and "Akarui kakugo".

Reason for the award

Ms. Ochiai became an author after having initially worked as a radio announcer. While on overseas reporting assignments she had opportunities to see specialist children's bookstores, and these experiences inspired her to establish in 1976 her own specialist chidren's bookstore, Crayonhouse, as a place where children and adults could interact and communicate through books. In addition to creating the general parenting magazine "Gekkan Kuyon" and the "Ehon-no Hondana" service for selecting and sending books to children, Ms. Ochiai has long acted as a bridge between children and books, introducing and popularizing children's books through a range of media based on her rich experience. In addition to writing and translating picture books, she also heads a "children's book school", a place for book-related exchange among a diverse range of people. Under her philosophy of "thinking about children seven generations into the future", Ms. Ochiai has attained tremendous achievements in her energetic contributions to children's culture.

(Children's Culture Award Selection Committee)

The 50th ENEOS Music Award Japanese Traditional Music Division
Reigakusha (gagaku performing group)


Photo courtesy of Reigakusha

Reigakusha is a "gagaku" performing group that was launched in 1985 for the purpose of studying "gagaku" ensemble performance. The ensemble was founded by the late Shiba Sukeyasu and its musical director is Miyata Mayumi. Since its beginning, Reigakusha has actively undertaken performances of a variety of musical forms in addition to its current repertoire of classical "gagaku" works, including revivals of obsolete works, reconstructed performances using millennia-old instruments preserved at Shosoin (the ancient Imperial storehouse), and some contemporary pieces, and has been broadly active both in Japan and overseas. In the fields of newly composed and modern "gagaku" works, Reigakusha commissions works by many composers, regularly staging the first performances of these pieces at recitals organized independently by the group. Moreover, Reigakusha has an established reputation for its rendition of Takemitsu Toru's "Autumn Court Song", which it has performed numerous times both in Japan and overseas. The group also plans and stages concerts incorporating commentary, thereby enabling audiences to gain familiarity with "gagaku", and develops "gagaku" projects for children, thereby connecting "gagaku" with the future, and also produces CDs and DVDs. Reigakusha also conducts numerous workshops for elementary and junior high school children throughout Japan. The group's name, "Reigakusha", is an abbreviation of "Reirin Gakuyusha" and pays tribute to the ancient Chinese music master Ling Lun ("Reirin" being the Japanese pronunciation of his name). The name was chosen by Shiba Sukeyasu in the hope that the group would not limit itself to existing "gagaku" works but instead undertake a broad range of musical activities transcending conventional boundaries, including revivals of obsolete works and newly composed pieces.

Reason for the award

Reigakusha is a private "gagaku" performing group which was founded in 1985 by the late "gagaku" maestro SHIBA Sukeyasu (1935-2019). In the 35 years since its foundation, this group, under his excellent guidance, has achieved omnidirectional activity concerning "gagaku". Its activity includes the performance of the traditional repertoire, the newly composed works represented by "Autumn Court Song" by TAKEMITSU Toru, and the enthusiastic revival of obsolete works. It should be also noted that this group has greatly contributed to the dissemination of "gagaku" inside and outside Japan through its excellent performances and recordings, as well as through fastidious teaching of "gagaku" to children and beginners. While the Music Department of the Imperial Household Agency (consisting of exclusively male musicians) has offered the standard model of "gagaku" performance in the modern period, Reigakusha, as a newly organized "gagaku" group consisting of both male and female musicians, has demonstrated alternative ways for performing "gagaku" in ensemble and solo. The committee highly evaluates the incomparable results of the challenges Reigakusha has taken on over many years and looks forward to seeing the group contribute to the further development of "gagaku" in the 21st century.

(Music Award-Japanese Traditional Music Selection Committee)

The 50th ENEOS Music Award Western Classical Music Division
SATO Mieko (Soprano)


©Muto Akira

Born in Oita, Ms. Sato graduated from the Musashino Academy of Music. After completing the training course for opera singers at the Japan Opera Foundation, she went to Italy to continue her opera studies. While studying in Italy she was awarded the 7th Goto Memorial Culture Award for new opera singers, and extended her studies in Italy for two years from 1997 on a scholarship from the Goto Memorial Culture Foundation. In 1998 Ms. Sato received international attention as the first Japanese to win First Prize in the voice division of the 11th International Tchaikovsky Competition. In 2000 she debuted with the Fujiwara Opera in the title role of "Lucia di Lammermoor", her specialty. As one of Japan's leading sopranos, Ms. Sato has appeared in numerous opera performances with the Fujiwara Opera, New National Theatre Tokyo, and others in Japan and overseas. In addition, she has performed in many recitals throughout Japan and a wide range of concerts with orchestras. Ms. Sato has released seven CDs, including "La Lucia" and "Opera Arias". Ms. Sato is a professor at Musashino Academy of Music, a visiting professor at Oita Prefectural College of Arts and Culture a member of the Fujiwara Opera Company and the Japan Opera Foundation.

Reason for the award

Having already achieved numerous major successes due to her beautiful supple voice, advanced technique, and richly universal musicality, Ms. Sato is now entering a period of even greater maturity. She first gained international attention in 1998 after boldly winning the International Tchaikovsky Competition. In the more than 20 years since then, she has demonstrated her true ability in operatic performances such as "Lucia di Lammermoor" and "Il viaggio a Reims", with the tremendous attractiveness of her characteristic light coloratura and smooth bel canto style. In "Yuzuru" and other Japanese operas as well, Ms. Sato has deepened the world of each operatic work through her singing abilities with her refined Japanese language and natural voice as a Japanese woman. Not stopping there, she has also successfully expanded her range of expression realistically in accordance with her age and changes in her voice. In February 2020, Ms. Sato demonstrated her immense talent again with her magnificent portrayal of Gilda in the Fujiwara Opera's performance of "Rigoletto". We anticipate that Ms. Sato will continue to deepen her artistry in the future.

(Music Award-Western Classical Music Selection Committee)

The 50th ENEOS Music Award Western Classical Music Promotion Division
Anthonello Early Music Ensemble (Leader: HAMADA Yoshimichi)


Photo courtesy of Fujii Aki

Since its inauguration in 1994, the early music ensemble Anthonello, with core members Hamada Yoshimichi (leader), Ishikawa Kaori and Nishiyama Marie, makes much of the "spirit of the period" when the music was originally composed, and makes clear the essential charm of music, which is endowed with much energy and liveliness. Anthonello has released CDs from Japanese and overseas labels, and is always highly regarded by the media as a group in the forefront of early music interpretation and performance. Anthonello's projects and works, which overcome stereotypical viewpoints of classical music and pursue purely "musicianship", attract a great deal of attention and response not only from classical music fans but also from music lovers of other genres. In 2013, Anthonello started the "Opera Fresca" projects to perform baroque operas such as three great works of Claudio Monteverdi, as well as the Japan premier of Giulio Caccini's "L'Euridice" (based on the oldest "opera" music score in the world still extant). In 2019, the Japan premier of "La Favola d'Orfeo", a musical work which Leonardo da Vinci is said to have participated in its original production, made a great success. Thus Anthonello vigorously works to propagate the charms of early operas which are still rarely performed in Japan and abroad.

Reason for the award

Nowadays there are numerous early music ensembles that perform music ranging from the Middle Ages to the Baroque period, reviving ancient instruments and performance techniques. Among these are artists who have incorporated their own unique performance styles. Led by Yoshimichi Hamada, the Anthonello Early Music Ensemble's singular presence is due to the performers' bold displays of "creative fantasy" on top of their unique playing styles. One of the best examples of this is the group's experiment in staging the opera "La favola d'Orfeo", which is thought to have been originally produced by Leonardo da Vinci. Anthonello daringly "revived" the work, adapting various musical materials from that period. Although a truly challenging undertaking, the group's extraordinarily energetic expression-as if the work had only just been composed-captivated the hearts of listeners, firing their imaginations. The group also has an outstanding talent for planning collaborations with external musicians. This award is presented to the Anthonello Early Music Ensemble in the hope that the group will continue to walk a path unconstrained by precedent.

(Music Award-Western Classical Music Selection Committee)

Selection Committees

ENEOS 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
ENEOS 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
ENEOS 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 ENEOS Children's Culture Award and ENEOS Music Awards have been selected for "This is MECENAT 2020" certification by the Association for Corporate Support of the Arts as activities that contribute toward an affluent society.

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