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Nihongo Cup 2010
Nihongo Cup finalists and sponsors
Nihongo Cup finalists and sponsors

On 19th June the finals of the Nihongo Cup were held at the Embassy of Japan in London. Despite the rival event of Japan vs Holland taking place at exactly the same time – clearly an oversight on the part of the World Cup schedulers – the auditorium was full to capacity, as the audience settled down to listen to the speeches. Without a vuvuzela in sight, the finalists showcased their considerable talents, competing in three separate categories in an attempt to impress the judges and win an array of fantastic prizes.

The 18 finalists had done extremely well to reach this stage of the competition, with this year’s number of applications totalling 268 pupils from 22 different schools. Speech topics ranged from the traditional way of the Japanese samurai to Seattle saxophonists and all participants had clearly put a great deal of time and effort into their preparation for the contest.

In between the speeches there were also excellent performances by the pupils of Knorton Knatchbull School and the Kakehashi Koto Ensemble to keep everyone entertained. On top of this, the audience was treated to a dance and language lesson by the pupils of Greenford High School and the Japanese Language Committee, demonstrating that clubbing and Japanese-language learning can actually be combined very easily!

Competition was extremely high but eventually the judges were able to agree on the winners, awarding first prize in each category to Ollie Capehorn (post-GCSE), Tanya Naumenko (pre-GCSE) and Jonah Allen (Key Stage 3), who later remarked that “This was probably the best moment of my life to date!”

Many congratulations and a big thank-you to everyone who came together to make the day such a success. The full results of the contest are as follows:

Key Stage 4 and 5 Post-GCSE:
Winner – Ollie Capehorn, Wycliffe College
Speech Title: Why not take up a foreign language?
2nd Place – Shyam Patel, Whitgift School
Speech Title: Japanese Religions
3rd Place – Lawson Lancaster, Greenford High School
Speech Title: Takoyaki and Fried Potatoes
Other Finalists:
Jisu Lee, St. Helen’s School
Joe Littler, King Edward VII School
Dorota Malec, South Wolds School

Key Stage 4 and 5 Pre-GCSE:
Winner – Tanya Naumenko, Wycliffe College
Speech Title: Hokusai
2nd Place – Sean Bullock, Dame Alice Owen’s School
Speech Title: Studying Foreign Languages
3rd Place – Hannah Dobb, Campion School
Speech Title: My 2010
Other Finalists:
Areekul Bunprakob, Brittons School & Technology College
Jessica Leeson, Weald of Kent Grammar School
Amelia Underwood, Stratford upon Avon Grammar School for Girls

Key Stage 3 (all speeches entitled ‘My Favourite Person’):
Winner – Jonah Allen, Aylesbury Grammar School
2nd Place – Nketia Obed-Arthur, Whitgift School
3rd Place – Phoebe Ball, South Wolds School
Other Finalists:
Kirsten Bergfors, St. Helen’s School
Ellie Oaten, Tavistock College
Jenny Robinson, Queen Mary’s High School

The event was organised by the Japanese Language Committee of the Association for Language Learning, in association with the Japan Foundation London and Embassy of Japan in the UK. We are very grateful to Toshiba of Europe Ltd, JSA (the Japanese Speech Awards), Ricoh UK Ltd, JP-Books (JPT Europe Ltd) and the Japan Centre for sponsoring the event and donating prizes, and also to Sumisho Computer Systems for their generous sponsorship and to Soho Japan for contributing to the evening reception.