On Aug. 3, the 23rd International High School Art Festival awards ceremony took place at the Grand Ballroom of the Ritz Carlton Tokyo hotel. Since its inception in 2000, the festival, which is open to high school artists from around the world aged 15 to 18, has made considerable strides toward “becoming one of Japan’s most prestigious art exhibitions,” according to festival organizer International Foundation for Arts and Culture Chairman Haruhisa Handa.

Festival judges reviewed 11,358 submitted works, divided into the two categories of fine art and calligraphy, from students in Japan and 13 other countries, including Ireland, Egypt, Brunei, Spain, the Philippines and Serbia. The festival kicked off with opening speeches by Shizuka Kamei, a former member of the House of Representatives who held various ministerial roles in government during his career, followed by Koji Kinutani, professor emeritus of Tokyo University of the Arts, who gave his thoughts on the nature of sport and art.

Handa presented the awards and praised the participants, noting that “the festival views high school students as serious artists” with hope that the competition will empower them “to hone their craft and build courage and confidence in their abilities.” The first young artists invited on stage were the recipients of The Prince of Wales’ Foundation Award (introduced in 2020), followed by the winners of the Prime Minister’s Award, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Award, the Tokyo Metropolitan Governor Award and other accolades. The festival also awarded one overseas student from each participating country with a visit to Japan to see their work exhibited at the National Art Center, Tokyo.