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Turpan Along Ancient Silk Road Honors SGI President

Turpan, located in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), recently presented Daisaku Ikeda, SGI president, with the Turpan Buddhist Cultural Art Research Award of Highest Honor for his efforts to promote Sino-Japanese friendship, for his wide-ranging activities based on Buddhism and for his profound understanding of Buddhist culture. A delegation from Turpan, led by Turpan Mayor Zheng Qiang, traveled to Tokyo to confer the honor.

The conferral ceremony was held at the Seikyo Press Building in Shinanomachi, Tokyo, on July 27, 2007. Mayor Zheng entrusted the award to Institute of Oriental Philosophy Director Yoichi Kawada, who accepted it on Mr. Ikeda's behalf. Mayor Zheng praised the SGI leader for reviving the spirit and intent of the Lotus Sutra in the modern world and for his actions that have spread Buddhist ideals around the globe. Mayor Zheng was accompanied by Xinjiang Tourism Administration Vice Director Wang Yucheng and Turpan Museum Curator Li Xiao.

Turpan is situated in a fertile oasis along the northern part of the Silk Road, an ancient caravan route that linked Eastern and Western civilizations. Buddhism arrived in Turpan around the 2nd and first century BCE, and the city flourished as a center of Mahayana Buddhism from around the third through fifteenth centuries CE. Kumarajiva (344-413), a prominent scholar and translator of Buddhist texts, including the Lotus Sutra, is thought to have spent his youth in Turpan. In December 2001, the city named President Ikeda an honorary citizen.

Mr. Ikeda has promoted the Silk Road region and its historic relevance through various academic and cultural institutes he has founded. These initiatives include the Institute of Oriental Philosophy's research on the Lotus Sutra facsimile editions, Soka University's involvement in the excavation and research of the Dunhuang area, and the Min-On Concert Association and the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum's introduction of the music and art of the Silk Road, respectively, to the Japanese audience.

[Adapted from an article in the July 28, 2007, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]