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Novelist Jakucho Setouchi and four others were awarded the Order of Culture at a Culture Day ceremony Friday at the Imperial Palace.

The four other recipients of the order, the country’s highest honor in the fields of culture and science, are music critic Hidekazu Yoshida, professor of welding engineering Yoshiaki Arata, painter Chusaku Oyama and economist Miyohei Shinohara.

Speaking on behalf of the recipients, Setouchi said, “This moment is like a dream.”

Setouchi, 84, who is also a Buddhist nun, has gained a devoted readership through her portrayals of the lives of women and human desires in works such as “Natsu No Owari” (“The End of Summer”).

Yoshida, 93, known as a pioneer in the field of music criticism in Japan, is the first in his field to win the award.

Arata, 82, was chosen for the award for his contributions to advanced welding techniques, while Oyama, 84, was recognized for his many significant paintings.

Shinohara, 87, is known for his macroeconomic analysis of the economy and his contributions to policymaking.

At a news conference after the ceremony, Setouchi said, “I feel more strongly than ever that I want to die while writing novels.”

Yoshida said: “I had thought I was lonely in my job. Today, however, I keenly felt that I was able to add to the line of geniuses in art.”

On Monday, the Emperor and Empress will invite the recipients of the Order of Culture and 15 people designated as Persons of Cultural Merit to the palace. The 15 include actor Ken Takakura, 75 and novelist Saiichi Maruya, 81.

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