Receiving the Ono Azusa Memorial Award in Waseda University

So, you may know already that I arrived in Tokyo yesterday morning after taking the midnight flight. At first there was some suspense to know the fate of my room after the massive quake, to my relief, only my anime girl figurines suffered.

After that, I immediately changed and headed off to the Ono Azusa Memorial Award ceremony in Waseda University.

Here's an info from the Waseda website what this award is about.



In memory of the late Azusa Ono, who is long remembered with reverence as a co-founder of Waseda University and for the specific purpose of elevating the Waseda Spirit, the special fund for Azusa Ono Memorial Awards was created in 1959. Awards are presented during graduation ceremonies to individual students (or student groups) who have distinguished themselves or have made outstanding contributions in the fields of academic studies, art, and sports during the previous year. Azusa Ono Memorial Awards for Academic Studies are given to students whose dissertations, graduation theses or seminar reports have been recognized as outstanding in quality. Azusa Ono Memorial Awards for Art are given to students whose art productions have been recognized as outstanding in quality. Azusa Ono Memorial Awards for Sports are given to students who have established a world record or the equivalent in various athletic events.

I was given the 2010 Azusa Ono Memorial Award for Art based on writing and directing my short film KINGYO (went to Venice Film Festival 2009), producing and co-writing Ming Jin's THE TIGER FACTORY (premiered at Director's Fortnight in Cannes 2010, received a special mention at Tokyo International Film Fest 2010), and then writing and directing the short film INHALATION (Best Asian Short Film winner in Pusan International Film Festival 2010, also shown in Clermont-Ferrand, Vancouver, Tokyo film fests, among others)

It's quite an honour because I'm the first ever foreigner recipient in the award's 52 year history (as in, to receive the award for contribution to Art, I believe a foreigner received an Azusa Ono Memorial Award for Academic Studies back in the 60s or 70s) Awesome.

Many of my friends and family back in Malaysia concern about my well-being had questioned my decision to return to Tokyo. The graduation ceremony in the university got cancelled due to the recent events, but the award ceremony went on as usual, if the Japanese were willing to show such resilience and determination in light of such a massive national tragedy, it would be wrong of me to not be around for the award presentation, and also to share their courage.

Hence, I returned to Tokyo.

Here's me, receiving the award from the president of Waseda University, Mr Kaoru Kamata.

Receiving the award from Kaoru Kamata, president of Waseda University


This duo are this year's only other Azusa Ono Memorial Award for Art recipients. I believe it had something to do with some nice architectural work.

This year's only other Azusa Ono Memorial Award for Art recipients


The award ceremony was held privately in this room, non-award recipients had to wait outside until all awards were handed out. Notice the wall is lined with photos of previous Waseda presidents.

Room where the award ceremony was held

Waseda presidents of the past


Here's me with Mr Shuji Hashimoto, vice president of Waseda University.

With Shuji Hashimoto, the vice-president of Waseda University


Ando-sensei joined in the fun too. Obviously, he was the one who nominated me for this award, so I would never have gotten it without him, thanks, Ando-sensei.

With Ando-sensei, Hashimoto-san etc.


This is Nana Takeda, she is a figure skater. She received the Azusa Ono Memorial Award for sports. Her smile nearly blinded me. Ouch.

With Nana Takeda, figure skater and recipient of Azusa Ono Memorial Award for Sports


Video of her in action


Unlike the Arts folks, there were LOTS of Azusa Ono Memorial Award for sports recipients. Some were sports teams.

All recipients of Azusa Ono Memorial Award for Sports


The award came with a medal, my name is engraved on its back.

With my Azusa Ono Memorial Award certificate and medal

Front of Azusa Ono Memorial Award medal

Back of Azusa Ono Memorial Award medal