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Inaugural Seamus Heaney Award, Japan

Inaugural Seamus Heaney Award, Japan

(Tokyo, 7 October, 2022) Inaugural Seamus Heaney Award Japan, recipient, Mutsuo Takahashi, with (left to right), Andrew Fitzsimons, Mitsuko Ohno, Richard Gorman, Christopher Heaney, Ambassador-Designate, Damien Cole.

The Seamus Heaney Award, Japan




The Embassy of Ireland, Japan is proud to host the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award ceremony.


Named after Ireland’s Nobel-prizewinning poet, Seamus Heaney, the biennial Award was established by IASIL Japan, (a branch of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures) under the auspices of the Embassy of Ireland, Tokyo.

In 2019, Ireland’s Minister for Culture, Ms. Josepha Madigan, launched the initiative during her visit to Tokyo.

The Award is given for “a work or body of work of outstanding literary merit, or an outstanding work or body of work of translation and/or scholarship”.


The recipient of the inaugural Seamus Heaney Award is the Japanese poet, Mutsuo Takahashi, who has close ties to Ireland through poetry reading tours and the publication of his collection On Two Shores by Dedalus Press, in 2006. 

Mr Takahashi’s work was selected by IASIL Japan’s adjudication committee from a number of proposals sent by literary groups based in Ireland and Japan.


The original award ceremony was due to take place in 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The award ceremony will now take place in Tokyo on 7 October 2022 at an event hosted by the Ambassador-designate of Ireland, Mr. Damien Cole. Seamus Heaney’s son, Christopher will be in Tokyo to present the Award.


Commenting on the award, the Ambassador said:

This award recognises the distinguished contribution of the laureate to literary relations between Ireland and Japan. It strengthens the prominent literary relationship between Ireland and Japan which is substantial, sustained, and marked by mutual affection and regard”.  

“It is an honour to support IASIL Japan in the creation of this award, and to host the inaugural ceremony to mark the work of the eminent poet, Mutsuo Takahashi, on this special occasion.”

“This award is a wonderful initiative and I would like to congratulate the IASIL Japan committee and President Andrew Fitzsimons, on its establishment. I hope that this award will serve to promote awareness, in Ireland and in Japan, of our respective rich literary traditions and strengthen cultural links between our countries.”


Mutsuo Takahashi (Poet), Inaugural Seamus Heaney Award winner

Poet, playwright and essayist, Mutsuo Takahashi is one of the most significant contemporary writers in Japan and, through translation into many languages, is among the best-known Japanese writers worldwide. 

He has been the recipient of a number of important literary prizes in Japan, such as the Rekitei Prize, the Yomiuri Literary Prize, the Takami Jun Prize, the Modern Poetry Hanatsubaki Prize, and the Shika Bungakukan Prize.In 2000, he earned the prestigious Kunshō award for his contributions to modern Japanese literature. For his contributions to modern Japanese literature, he was designated a Bunkakorosha (Person of Cultural Merit) in 2017, and became a member of the Nihon Geijutsu-in (The Japan Arts Academy).


Commenting on the Award, President of IASIL, Dr Andrew Fitzsimons said: “it is entirely fitting that the inaugural recipient of an Award named for Seamus Heaney should go to a poet”.

“In his elegy for Heaney, ‘Talisman’, whom Takahashi admired greatly and met in person in Dublin, he writes: ‘The bog of death has embraced you alive to the lips, to the eyelids and then the forehead / and alive still you become our perfected memory, our talisman”.


Award Design by Richard Gorman

Distinguished Irish artist, Richard Gorman, who has a long and fruitful, working and personal relationship with Japan for many years throughout his career, has designed the inaugural prize. This commission represents further strong artistic links between Japan and Ireland, which are celebrated with this award. Presented on handmade washi paper and hand-painted by the artist in ‘St Patrick’s Blue’, the award is set in a specially made Perspex Frame, representing traditional and contemporary links between Ireland and Japan.


Seamus Heaney Award Adjudicators

Nominations are requested from relevant literary and scholarly associations and institutions in Japan and Ireland and evaluated by a panel of well-qualified judges drawn from among these organizations.


Nominating institutions include: 

IASIL Japan (International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures, Japan)

The Japan-Ireland Society

The James Joyce Society of Japan

The W.B. Yeats Society of Japan

The Oscar Wilde Society of Japan

Samuel Beckett Research Circle of Japan

The Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Society

The Waseda Institute of Irish Studies

The Embassy of Ireland, Japan

The Embassy of Japan, Ireland

The Centre of Asian Studies, Trinity College Dublin

Japanese Section, The School of Modern Languages and Applied Linguistics, University of Limerick

Japanese, The School of Applied Language and Intercultural Studies, Dublin City University









第1回日本シェイマス・ヒーニー賞は、詩人の高橋睦郎氏に贈られます。高橋氏は、W.B.イェイツの『鷹の井戸』を原案とした能『鷹井』の執筆、アイルランドへの詩の朗読ツアー、「アイルランドで私は」等の英訳を収める作品集『二つの岸辺(原題:On Two Shores)』(Dedalus Press、2006年)の出版を通じて、アイルランドの詩人や読者たちと親交を深めてこられました。アイルランドと日本それぞれに拠点を置く文学関連団体より多くの推薦書が提出されるなか、高橋氏がイアシル・ジャパンの審査委員会によって選出されました。







1回日本シェイマス・ヒーニー賞 受賞者 - 詩人・高橋睦郎氏





「シェイマス・ヒーニーの名を冠した賞の最初の受賞者が詩人であることは、大変相応しいことです。高橋氏自身もヒーニーを敬愛しておられ、ダブリンで実際にお会いになっています。彼がヒーニーに贈った追悼詩では、『怖れるな それは 日常がそのまま非日常に転移するための 咒符/死の泥炭は生きていたあなたを 唇まで 瞼まで 額まで覆い/あなたは生きたまま 私たちのための全き記憶となる(原文:“The bog of death has embraced you alive to the lips, to the eyelids and then the forehead / and alive still you become our perfected memory, our talisman”)』と懐古しています。」


日本シェイマス・ヒーニー賞表彰 盾 - リチャード・ゴーマン氏



日本シェイマス・ヒーニー賞 審査方










早稲田大学 アイルランド文学研究所



ダブリン大学トリニティカレッジ アジア研究センター




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