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Nihongo Cup 2020 Finals Day

The Finals Day of the Nihongo Cup Japanese Speech Contest for Secondary School Students was held on Saturday 27th June. This was an historic day for the Nihongo Cup: it was the first time in the seventeen-year-history of the contest that the Finals Day has ever been held entirely online, due to Covid-19 restrictions. The organisers wanted to make sure the hard work of all applicants was rewarded, and so decided to not cancel the competition and instead move the Finals Day online.

Every year, our judges and audience are treated to a variety of speeches given by students of Japanese at three different levels: Key Stage 2, Key Stage 4&5 Pre-GCSE and Key Stage 4&5 Post-GCSE. Topics this year included: astronauts, international journalism, climate change, curry, vegetarianism and much, much more! As always, we were blown away by the immense skill of all of the finalists and wold like to offer them our heartfelt congratulations.

This year, we received many excellent applications. In the end, eighteen finalists were selected (six in the Key Stage 3 Category, Key Stage 4&5 Pre-GCSE Category and Key Stage 4&5 Post-GCSE Category respectively). Applicants recorded their videos in advance to be played during the Finals Day, adding another level of difficulty to the contest, as they did not have the reactions of an audience to encourage them.

The day started with the Key Stage 3 Category. Students in this category gave speeches on the theme of “My Dream”. Third place was won by Benedek Payne (Year 9) from Hockerill Anglo-European College, who was inspired by the film “The Martian” to become an astronaut! Beth Kingham (Year 9) from West Coventry Academy, won second place for telling us about her dreams to be an author and a dancer. Last but not least, first place was won by Eric Taylor (Year 8) from Whitgift School, who described his dream of being a shinkansen driver, traveling from Hokkaido to Tokyo.

Next was the Key Stage 4&5 Pre-GCSE Category. Finalists in this category were allowed to give speeches on a topic of their choice. Valerie Chau (Year 12) from Hockerill Anglo-European College, chose to talk about the impact of global warming in Japan and won third place. Second place was won by Jerry Xue (Year 11) from Wycliffe College, who chose the unique topic of Navy Curry and explained to us the international origins of modern Japanese curry! Io Bitel (Year 12) from Cheney School, chose to talk about “my dream” – describing the dream to become a journalist and travel the world. With amazing Japanese language abilities like this, we have no doubt of Io’s success!

The final Category of the day was the Key Stage 4&5 Post-GCSE Category. Finalists in this category were free to give speeches on a topic of their choice. Third place was won by Anant Gupta (Year 12) from Whitgift School, who talked about vegetarianism and its links to Japanese food culture. Mimi Avworo (Year 12), from President Kennedy School, spoke about the Japanese pop music industry and its performance in Western markets compared to other international genres. First place in this category was won by Jeremy Roe (Year 13) from Whitgift School, who talked about the advancement of technology in Japan and its use in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

All of the eighteen speeches heard by the judges was of great quality and the judges had to make a difficult decision about who to reward with prizes. It was brilliant to hear the original and interesting thoughts of all the finalists, conveyed in Japanese. You can find summaries of all the speeches from the day in the event programme, which can be downloaded below.

-          See commemorative photos from the event by clicking here. (Coming soon!)

-          Download the event programme with details of all the finalists, speeches and judges.

We would like to thank all of our sponsors. Without their support, this event would not be able to go ahead. In alphabetical order, we would like to thank IIJ Europe, The Japan Centre, JP Books, Lingualift, Oxford Brookes University, Ricoh UK Ltd, SUQQU, Zoom Japan, for their generous donation of prizes for the finalists. Thank you to The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation for their generous sponsorship and to the Embassy of Japan for their support.

We would like to offer our congratulations to all of the finalists and our gratitude to everyone who helped make the day such an unforgettable experience.