Renowned "rakugo" (comic story) raconteur Yanagiya Sankyo has been honored for his commitment to spreading appreciation of the Japanese language among foreigners in Japan and overseas.

He received a 2014 Japan Foundation Award, which honors people or groups who help deepen international friendship over the long term.

"Rakugo has a history of 400 years and countless 'rakugoka' (storytellers) have devoted their souls to the traditional performing art," Sankyo said. "I'd like to promote this wonderful Japanese culture."