The awards ceremony for the so-called âNobel Prize of Artsââthe 29th PrÃ¦mium Imperiale International Arts Award in honor of Prince Takamatsuâwas held on Wednesday, October 18th, at the Meiji Kinenkan (Moto-Akasaka, Tokyo), in the presence of His Imperial Highness Prince Hitachi.
This yearâs awards feature two African laureates, Senegalese musician Youssou NâDour and Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui, who are both the first from their respective countries to receive the award. An African vibe is being felt throughout the art world.
In a video message played at the award ceremony, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe conveyed his congratulations, saying: âGreat art crosses borders and time, laying the foundations for peace through empathy and mutual understanding. I commend your tireless efforts.â
Ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov said: âHumans always create tumultuous and confusing times, never more so than the current one. I am so proud to be one of the laureates, in a time when the arts are more important than ever.â
NâDour also expressed gratitude, saying: âDifference is not an impediment; in fact, it is the font of prosperity. Today, I am so delighted to be able to show that Africa has always existed.â
250 guests from the world of culture and the arts joined the five laureates at the award ceremony reception. NâDourâs performance of two of his original compositionsââWithout a Smileâ and âAfrica Dream Againââwas met with generous applause and praise.
A member of the audience captured the mood those songs brought to the evening: âIt makes me feel hopeful toward the future.â
(Click here to read the Sankei Shimbun’s article in Japanese.)