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Japan rugby team awarded prestigious Kikuchi Kan cultural prize

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph, sixth from left in the front row, and Japan players pose for a photo in Tokyo on Oct. 21, 2019, a day after Japan lost to South Africa in a Rugby World Cup quarterfinal. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The national rugby team has been added to the list of this year's winners of the Kikuchi Kan Prize, given to people or groups that have made contributions to Japanese culture, a literature association said Monday.

The Brave Blossoms were defeated in one of Sunday's quarterfinals by South Africa, knocking them out of the tournament in which they captured the public's imagination by reaching the tournament's final eight for the first time.

"Players from various countries becoming 'one team' and defeating rugby powerhouses gave the entirety of Japan courage," said the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Literature.

The 67th prize will go to the rugby team and four other recipients -- novelist Jiro Asada, ballet dancer Miyako Yoshida, a pioneering children's program on public broadcaster NHK, as well as to historian Kazushige Todaka for his work with the PHP Institute Inc.

The association, under major publisher Bungeishunju Ltd., which announced the four winners last week, is known for handing out the prestigious Akutagawa and Naoki literary awards, among other prizes.

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