This year, Janaka Alan Spence from the Edinburgh Sri Chinmoy Centre received the Order of the Rising Sun, an honour bestowed by the Japanese government in the name of the Emperor. Janaka, who is one of Scotland’s best-loved poets and authors, received the award for his books of haiku poetry and his novels set in Japan, and for promoting Scottish-Japanese friendship and cultural exchange over many years. Created in 1875, the Order of the Rising Sun is Japan’s third highest honour, and is (with rare exceptions) the highest that can be given to non-royalty or non-politicians. The award was presented by the Japanese Consul-General, Daisuke Matsunaga, in a special ceremony at his residence in Edinburgh. The presentation ceremony was attended by a few dignitaries and friends from the arts, along with friends from the Sri Chinmoy Centre. Janaka sang one of the many songs that Sri Chinmoy wrote in honour of Japan, in both English and in Japanese:
Janaka published his first book – a collection of short stories called Its colours they are fine – over 40 years ago. His first book of poetry, Glasgow Zen, was published in 1990, and was followed by The Clear Light and Seasons of the Heart.Janaka has also written two novels set in Japan and inspired by Japanese historical events. The first novel, The Pure Land, was published in 2006. Night Boat was published in 2014 and retells the life of the Japanese Zen monk Hakuin.