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How current graduate student book reviewer Awaiyuki got hooked on reading, horse racing, and idols.



Predictions for the Akutagawa and Naoki prizes from horse racing

Takano: And now, Mr. Awai. The Akutagawa and Naoki prizes will be awarded tomorrow. You have also posted your predictions for the winners.

Awai: Yes, that’s right.

Takano: I heard that your roots are in horse racing.

Awai: My father really liked horse racing, and when I was in junior high school, I started to predict what would come in first place, even though I didn’t spend any money on it.

Takano: I didn’t know that was such a fun way to enjoy horse racing.

Awai: I simply find the process of predicting very interesting. I like the process of taking into account various factors such as pedigree, lap time, jockey, and horse condition, and trying to guess what will come in.

Takano: Interesting. You like to predict and solve problems.

Awai: That may be true.

Takano: By the way, do you win at horse races?

Awai: Now that I’m away from it, it’s probably difficult, but in the past it was quite easy. The important thing is not the hit rate but the return rate, for example, how many yen you get back if you spend a certain amount of money. The hit rate itself was low, but I think I was able to hit a horse at a certain pace.

Takano: Do you have any regrets that you should have bought a ticket?

Awai: No, I don’t.

Takano: So you enjoy the process itself. How do you feel about tomorrow’s Akutagawa Prize and Naoki Prize winners, Mr. Awai?

Awai: Yes, I do. The Akutagawa Prize goes to Yusuke Norishiro’s “It’s Makoto”.

Takano: Mr. Norishiro, is this your fourth time?

Awai: This is the fourth time you have been nominated for the Akutagawa Award.

Takano: I think there are many fans of Ms. Norishiro who would like to see her win the prize soon.

Awai: I think there are many. He is a very popular person, but he has been missing out on awards because of a lack of recognition from the selection committee members. This time, “It’s Makoto” is an ensemble drama about a group of high school students who go on a school excursion and develop friendships there. The narrator, “I,” is looking back on the trip and typing things into his computer, and we are being asked to read it.

Takano: Yes, that’s right.

Awai: In the process of typing and recording, the narrator’s memories of the school trip are condensed to show how precious the trip was for me, and I was definitely moved by all the descriptions.

Celeina: I’m curious!

Takano: How about the Naoki Award?

Awai: I think the Naoki Prize is quite a crowded field this year, but my personal favorite is Tow Ubukata’s “Bone Ashes”. Ubukata Tow has a background in science fiction, but he has also written historical novels, mystery novels, and many other kinds of novels. This is my first horror novel, and it’s about a construction worker who hears a rumor that there are human bones buried underground, so he goes to dig them out, and he unleashes a disaster that was sealed up underground, and he becomes possessed by a terrible evil called “bone ash. The narrator becomes obsessed and tries to justify his irrationality with logic. From the reader’s point of view, that’s not right! I want to say to him, “That’s not right!

Takano: Yes, that’s right.

Awai: The narrator forces you to be convinced and the story goes on, which is interesting or scary. It’s fun to read.

Takano: I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s announcement.

Celeina: I think I’ll buy both “It’s Makoto” and “Bone Ashes” and go home.

Takano: Now, I asked Mr. Awai to choose a song that he would like everyone to listen to together on the radio at this time.

Awai: So far we have talked about reading and horse racing, but recently I have also started going to idol concerts.

Celeina: A new element.

Awai: I go to see a lot of idols, but the one I support the most is Mana Manaka of FRUITS ZIPPER, an idol group that broke out last year on TikTok with a song called “My Cutest Place. The song “My Cutest Place” became their big breakthrough on TikTok last year, and in the year since their formation, the group has been climbing up the ranks and is already scheduled to perform at arenas. Recently, they released a music video for a song called “Cho-Shineitai Song ~Is it OK to be so happy? ~It is a song filled with happiness, and it is a cheerful song that symbolizes the momentum of the group FRUITS ZIPPER itself, so I selected it for many people to listen to.

Celeina: Let’s listen to the song.



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NiEW Best Music is a playlist featuring artists leading the music scene and offering alternative styles in our rapidly evolving society. Hailing from Tokyo, the NiEW editorial team proudly curates outstanding music that transcends size, genre, and nationality.