Janaka receives the Order of the Rising Sun

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. 

Janaka recieves the award from the Consul General, Daisuke Matsunaga

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.

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.

I sit inside
the compassionate Buddha
who sits inside
this world of things
which sits inside 
the universe
which sits inside
the great void
which sits inside
my heart.

from 'Glasgow Zen'

where last week
the snow lay thick


into the sea I launch
a piece of driftwood – 
with great ceremony!


that old/new
smell of fresh
cut grass


the flowering plant nods
my gaze

Haiku poems from '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.

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:

By way of thanks, Janaka later sent this poem by Sri Chinmoy to the Consul-General:


If you love knowledge-light
And if you love and need
Then every day,
Just for a few fleeting seconds,
Dive deep within.
You are bound to see
A rising inner sun
With ever-increasing golden rays.

Sri Chinmoy

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