The government Tuesday bestowed the People’s Honor Award on two champions of the traditional Japanese board games of shogi and go, making the two men the first recipients of the prize in their respective fields.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gave the awards to shogi champion Yoshiharu Habu, 47, and go master Yuta Iyama, 28, in a ceremony at his office.
“You have achieved historic accomplishments and brought dreams and inspiration to so many people,” Abe said as he handed the men their awards.
Habu captured the Ryuo title late last year and became the first champion to hold all seven major lifetime titles in shogi.
Iyama secured all seven go titles for the second time, recapturing the title of Meijin in a match in October.
As commemorative gifts, Abe presented Habu and Iyama with calligraphy sets that included inkwells and brushes inside boxes decorated with cloisonne enamel work. The word for cloisonne in Japanese is written with the characters for “seven treasures,” a nod to each man’s seven titles.
In return, they each gave Abe a set of boards and pieces from their respective games.
Established in 1977, the People’s Honor Award has been given to 25 individuals — including the two latest recipients — and one group for their achievements in sports, entertainment and culture.
Wrestling champion Kaori Icho was given the award in 2016 after she became the first female wrestler to win gold medals at four consecutive Olympic Games, following the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.