SOAS University of London

SOAS Language Centre

Hagio Prize 8th Year Winner: Sebastian Schubert

As 2010 marks the tenth anniversary of this unique and generous award, we have asked past winners to reminisce about their time spent in Japan, as well as how the experience has affected their lives. Here is Sebastian's report.


My name is Sebastian Schubert and I am the 2007 Hagio Prize winner.


The journey I took through Japan was certainly one of the greatest experiences I have ever had. Thanks to the funding provided by the Hagio Prize, the language skills I acquired at SOAS and the help of many good friends, I was able to travel all around Japan and experience real Japanese life with four different families. It helped me a lot, that I was able to plan my trip just the way I wanted, but was always assisted by Reuters and the staff at SOAS.

A big motivation to challenge all sorts of questions that arose while living in Japan, was the fact that I had to hand in reports to Reuters. I wanted to write exciting reports that showed Japan out of a German/European perspective and I therefore asked my friends in Japan to put me in touch with artists, musicians, farmers, doctors, etc. whom I interviewed about their life in Japan. Having conversations about a very wide range of topics helped me not only understand their life, but also my own. Although it did not solve all mysteries, I have a feeling that I am confident to travel again in Japan at anytime, to communicate with people about almost all subjects and am able to tell people a little bit about Japan.

Mrs Hagio and her associates with Sebastian

One of the most impressive things was the first dinner I had with Mrs. Hagio. I cannot speak highly enough of her. Her knowledge of world issues and her experience of life is extraordinary. Meeting her was definitely something that had a very strong effect on myself. I am very thankful that she initiated and funded this great prize.

When I came back to Germany, I wanted to give something back to this great country and introduce Japan to people over here who did not know much about it apart from Manga and Samurai. I had the chance to give some presentations not only for friends and family, but also in a local theatre and at a meeting of Bavaria‘s civil servants. I hope to share my enthusiasm about Japan with even more people and I cannot wait to go back to Japan again.