Tessa Rizzoli wins first place in Japanese Speech Contest

We would like to wish a big congratulations to final year Japanese Studies Student, Tessa Rizzoli, who won first palce in the Fifteenth Japanese Speech Contest for University Students.

Tessa with her First Prize certificate

The contest, which is jointly organised by the Japan Foundation London and the BATJ (British Association for Teaching Japanese as a Foreign Language) took place on Saturday 29th of February 2020.

Past finalists from FAMES are:
The 2nd contest: Katherine Wilde (Winner)
The 5th contest: Hattie Jones (2nd place)
The 8th contest: Pascal Wenz (Runner-up)
The 10th contest: Sakari Mesimaki (2nd place)

Please see below for a video of the speech in full and a synopsis in English


Mottainai – wasteful, a Japanese word that expresses the importance of treasuring one’s belongings and admonishes waste. If you have ever dined in a Japanese person’s home, you will likely know that it is considered incredibly mottainai to leave a single grain of rice left in your bowl. However, while leaving food untouched is deemed as mottainai, the same logic does not seem to apply to our unsustainable consumption and production of goods, which has unfortunately resulted in the increasing pollution of our planet.

This led me to the question: What do Japanese people consider as wasteful? How does this contrast with other views? And how could this perception help us tackle some of the societal problems we face today?

In this speech, I suggest that to tackle some of the environmental issues that threaten our species, we must reconsider and strengthen our understanding of the Japanese concept of mottainai and apply it on a global scale. In doing so, it can help motivate individuals and even large companies to produce and consume in a more sustainable way.

Moreover, I suggest further investigation of the Japanese tradition kintsugi, the art of restoring broken pottery using gold, to reevaluate how we perceive value, especially when things have been broken.

The Japanese ideas of mottainai and kintsugi are invaluable in our quest to find a sustainable way of living for everyone on the globe. Reconsidering these concepts will not only help us better cherish the world around us but enhance our daily lives, by increasing our appreciation of our possessions and even the most menial of objects.

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