The Japan Mint started 2009 by announcing the winners of its 2008 international coin design competition. The yearly program is one of the most unique for a world mint, and somewhat similar to the recently promoted London 2012 coin contest from the British Royal Mint.
The Mint said its contest is meant to encourage those who are artistically inclined and help "enhance the artistry" of its own designs.
The program has two major competitive categories, General and Student, and a special jury award. The top winner, or "Most Excellent Work" went to a three-person Ukrainian team — Volodymyr Taran, Oleksandr Kharuk, and Serhiy Kharuk — for their "One thousand years of coinage in Kyiv" theme.
The award included 500,000 yen (~$5,500 US) and a medal of the design based on a plaster model, which each candidate must submit after making it past a preliminary judging stage.
Aleksandra Stokic of Serbia finished second, taking home 200,000 yen and medal of his theme depicting the International Year of Astronomy.
The Japan Mint said it had received 53 designs from 13 different countries within the General category and 14 designs from 4 countries in the Student category.
To view the winning coin design plasters and sketches, follow The Final Judgment of the International Coin Design Competition 2008.