The government of the Republic of Serbia awarded the Order of the Serbian Flag, Third Class to Shigeo Kurihara, a professor emeritus of the University of Tokyo, for his contributions to developing closer and deeper ties between Japan and Serbia, at a decoration ceremony held at the Serbian Embassy in Tokyo on Jan. 16.

After graduating from the Tokyo University of Education, today’s University of Tsukuba, Kurihara visited Serbia for three years and studied Serbian literature. He has worked on translating several Slavic novels and poems and even published a book about Slavic vampires and folk tales.

Admiring his deep and savvy knowledge of not only Serbian language and culture, but also Japanese culture, the Serbian government awarded him for transmitting Slavic culture to Japan. Serbian Ambassador Bojana Adamovic Dragovic bestowed the decoration on behalf of Serbian President Tomislav Nikolic.

At the ceremony, Kurihara said, “This honor is greater than I deserve because I know that my contribution to the development of cultural exchange between Serbia and Japan is very humble. … I have never dreamed that I could be given such a high honor.”

Ichiro Aisawa, president of the Japan-Serbia Parliamentary Friendship League, congratulated Kurihara at the event. Then, students from the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies performed traditional Serbian dance to make the ceremony even more festive.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to all my friends in Serbia for their hospitality, assistance and encouragement,” Kurihara said.

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