A huge OMEDETOO GOZAIMASU (Congratulations!) to all 20 finalists who took part in the Twelfth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students, which took place at King’s College London on Saturday March 4th.
The 20 finalists had been selected from a total of 88 applications from 18 universities across the UK. The day began with the Individual Presentation category finalists, all of whom are studying Japanese at post-beginner level. The presentations were all of a very high standard and it was very difficult for the judges to decide the winner. However, the first prize eventually went to Wei Lun Toh, a 3rd year student at Imperial College London, for his very engaging and informative speech on The History and Origins of English. In second place was Polena Lilyanova, also in her 3rd year at Imperial College London, who was also a finalist in the previous year’s contest. This year, she gave a very lively presentation on The Beauty of Bulgaria, while dressed in Bulgarian national costume!
The Individual Presentation Category was followed by the Speech Category. All six finalists demonstrated not only exceptional Japanese ability, but also a great degree of insight and knowledge of their chosen subjects. After much deliberation, the first prize was awarded to Giordano Epifani, 4th year at SOAS, University of London, for demonstrating outstanding skills in delivering his speech on the topical subject of Adaptation problems of foreign expatriates in Japan .The second prize was awarded to Robin Reh, another 4th year at SOAS, for showing much insight and fresh perspectives on the theme of The opportunities of an ageing society. The third prize was awarded to Dominic Oben, still only in his 1st year at the University of Oxford, for showing real academic flare and understanding of Japanese culture in his talk on The significance of aesthetic values in contemporary Japan and their relationship with the Japanese identity
This year’s Group Presentation Category gave beginner-level students the chance to give presentations on a topic of their choice. The four outstanding groups that made it through to Saturday’s finals were chosen from an initial 17 groups that applied, and represented the University of Warwick, the University of Hertfordshire, Imperial College London and King’s College London. They gave talks on “Italy and Hong Kong,” “Songkran Festival & Tihar Festival,” “Tim Peake’s Expedition to Space” and “Culinary Customs in China and Singapore.” These groups were not placed individually, but instead received special prizes based on their chosen topics.
We would like to thank all participants, their teachers and supporters, the judges, audience members and BATJ for making the contest such a success. In addition, special thanks must go to the generous sponsors: Baker & McKenzie LLP, Bloomberg L.P., Central Japan Railway Company, Gendai Travel Limited, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Japan Airlines, Japan Centre, JP BOOKS, King’s College London, NHK World, Nikkei Europe Ltd., Oxford Brookes University, Ricoh UK Ltd, Toshiba of Europe Ltd, Wagashi Japanese Bakery and ZOOM Japan.
We would like to encourage as many undergraduate students of Japanese language as possible to apply for next year’s contest! Finally, students still at school may be interesting in applying for the Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary Schools, the deadline for which is Fri 24th March 2017.