30th “Award of Honor” Gala

November 19, 2016

Awarding Hiroshi Mikitani, Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli

On November 19, 2016 the Japan Society held its 30th Annual Award of Honor Gala at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco.  The gala is our signature event of the year and is always attended by a wide range of American and Japanese individuals from business, government, the arts, academia and the community who share a strong commitment to close ties between the United States and Japan.  This year the JSNC recognized Hiroshi Mikitani, Founder, Chairman and CEO of Rakuten and founder of JANE (Japan Association of New Economy), and Hayao Miyazaki, Co-Founder of Studio Ghibli and noted Animation Director with the “Award of Honor”.  We also bestowed the “World Imaginator Award” honors to Studio Ghibli, which is best known for its animated feature films and commercials.

The Recipients

Award of Honor Recipient

Hiroshi Mikitani
Chairman & CEO
Rakuten, Inc.

Lifetime Achievement Award

Hayao Miyazaki
Studio Ghibli & Animation Director

World Imaginator Award


Studio Ghibli
Best known for Animated Feature Films & Commericals


  • VIP Reception | 5:30 pm
  • Cocktail Reception & Silent Auction | 6:00 pm
  • Dinner, Live Auction & Awards Presentation | 7:15 pm


Hotel Nikko San Francisco, 222 Mason Street, San Francisco, California, 94102

Limited parking available at the Hotel Nikko San Francisco. Convenient valet parking is located at the Porte Cochere at $15.00 for the first hour and $5.00 per each additional half hour (maximum of $50.00 per 24-hour period.)

Award of Honor Recipient: Hiroshi Mikitani

Hiroshi “Mickey” Mikitani is the founder, chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Inc. In 1997, with a team of six people, he launched “Rakuten Ichiba” – the Rakuten marketplace. Rakuten, which was founded on a mission of empowering the world through the Internet, has expanded beyond e-commerce to encompass a dynamic global ecosystem of around 70 different Internet services as diverse as travel, banking, credit card, eReading, and professional sports. The firm has operations in more than 20 countries and regions, as well as customers all over the world. Born in Kobe, Mikitani was educated at Hitotsubashi University in Tokyo, began his career in investment banking, and earned his MBA at Harvard Business School in Cambridge, MA. In 2012, he was awarded the HBS Alumni Achievement Award, one of the school’s highest honors. He is also a recipient of the Legion of Honour, awarded by the French government in recognition of contributions to the economy and culture of France. In 2011, he was appointed Chairman of the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, which has the longest history and tradition of any orchestra in Japan.

Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient: Hayao Miyazaki

Hayao Miyazaki was born in 1941 in Tokyo, Japan.  Miyazaki co-founded Studio Ghibli in 1985 with Isao Takahata.  Among his eleven animated features, SPIRITED AWAY (2001) broke every box office record in Japan, and won the Golden Bear at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and the 2002 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature Film.  HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (2004) received the Osella Award at the 2004 Venice International Film Festival.  Miyazaki was awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2005 Venice International Film Festival.  His latest film, THE WIND RISES (2013), was nominated for the 2013 Academy Award® for Best Animated Feature.  In 2014, the Board of Governors for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presented him with an Honorary Oscar® for Lifetime Achievement.

World Imaginator Award Recipient:  Studio Ghibli

Accepting the award is Stephen Alpert who recently retired as Senior Vice President and member of the Board of Directors of Studio Ghibli, serving as the head of the studio’s International Division for more than 15 years. Studio Ghibli was founded in 1985 by animated film directors Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki, and has produced twenty-three feature-length films.  Studio Ghibli is arguably Japan’s most successful film studio. Most Studio Ghibli films ranked number one at the box office in Japan in the year in which they were released.  SPIRITED AWAY, directed by Hayao Miyazaki and released in 2001, is the all-time highest grossing film in Japan, earning over 30 billion yen at the box office.  The Studio’s SPIRITED AWAY (2001) and HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE (2004) are among Japan’s top 5 grossing films. Studio Ghibli films have garnered numerous awards and critical acclaim from film critics and animation specialists around the world.  SPIRITED AWAY was awarded the Golden Bear as the Best Feature Film at the 2002 Berlin International Film Festival and won the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.


2016 Gala Sponsors





David & Fumiko Hoeft
Gerald & Keiko Horkan
Allen & Michiko Miner


Individual Sponsors

Emma and Takahide Akiyama

Azuma Foods International Inc., U.S.A.

Barbara K. Bundy

Dr. Gary W. Cleary and Nobuko Saito Cleary

Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco

Richard B. Dasher


Hotel Nikko San Francisco

Institute for Creative Integration

Japan Intercultural Consulting

Kikkoman Sales USA, Inc.

Kathleen & Kozo Kimura

Susan Kobayashi & Chuck Han

Jon Metzler and Kakul Srivastava

Christopher J. & Ya-Hui Monteilh

Morrison & Foerster LLP

Hiro Ogawa

Tazan International

Steven G. Teraoka & Marsha Eddleman Teraoka

Joyce & John R. Thomas

Tom & Akemi Woofter

Past Award Galas

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