The Higashikawa Awards 受賞者

The Overseas Photographer Award

Lives in Madrid, Spain

The Domestic Photographer Award

HARA Mikiko
Lives in Kanagawa Prefecture

The New Photographer Award

Lives in Hiroshima Prefecture

The Special Photographer Award

Lives in Tokyo

The Hidano Kazuemon Award

HIROTA Naotaka
Lives in Kanagawa Prefecture

The Jury Committee of the 39th Higashikawa Awards

Anju <Photographer>
UENO Osamu <Photo Critic>
KAMIYAMA Ryoko <Curator, Japanese postwar art history >
KITANO Ken <Photographer>
KURAISHI Shino <Photo Critic, Poet>
SHIBASAKI Tomoka <Novelist>
NIWA Harumi <Curator, Photo Critic>
HARA Koichi <Art Designer>

Commentary on the Selection of the 39th Higashikawa Photography Awards

Selection of the 39th Town of Photography Higashikawa Awards was carried out on February 22, 2023. Those nominated this year include 51 photographers for the Domestic Photographer Award, 59 for the New Photographer Award, 23 for the Special Photographer Award, 45 for the Hidano Kazuuemon Award, and 12 for the Overseas Photographer Award. As with previous years, the morning was spent carefully looking at photobooks and resources, while the winners of the five awards were selected in the afternoon from a total of 171 artists. This year, while two of the eight jury members were absent, their votes were taken in advance and were reflected in the judging process. 

       The Domestic Photographer Award was narrowed down to five at the final stage, and after repeated discussions and voting, Mikiko HARA was selected by a narrow margin. Ms. HARA’s work, in which she devotes herself to snapshots and nurtures the moment, may at first seem quiet and orthodox, but as we repeatedly look over and discuss her photobook “Small Myths”, the power of her work gradually increased until it felt like overflowing. Ms. HARA is a photographer who has been attracting attention in the judging process every year despite her lack of work. One can say the power of her work, which continues to spread slowly like a ripple, has come to fruition with this award.

       The finalists for the New Photographer Award were Maya AKASHIKA, Ryuichi ISHIKAWA, Motonari TAGAWA, Nao NAKAI, Sohei NISHINO, and Aya FUJIOKA but at the final stage, only Ryuichi ISHIKAWA and Aya FUJIOKA remained. Even after repeated voting and debates, the votes remained split evenly. After taking a break and proceeding with the review again, Aya FUJIOKA was selected. In the case of FUJIOKA, who has continued to deepen her thinking while honestly questioning her own work through the use of social media, as well as solo exhibitions and special exhibitions at museums and galleries and publications, it can be said that this became the decisive factor during the discussion process.

       The Special Artist Award was given to Naoki ISHIKAWA for his works that explore northern Japan such as “SAKHALIN” and “Shiretoko Peninsula”, as well as photography exhibitions, workshops, and talks related to the Shashin Zeo Banchi Shiretoko project. ISHIKAWA was also the recipient of the 25th Photo Town Higashikawa Award for New Photographers, known as a photographer who continues to capture everyday life from all over the world with his unparalleled activities. This selection also sheds light on the rare balance between staying on the move and keeping your feet on the ground.

       The Hidano Kazuuemon Prize was awarded to Naotaka HIROTA, a pioneer of modern railway photography who has continued to express the appeal of railways from multiple perspectives. Railways in Japan are deeply related to the concept of regions. The Hidano Kazuuemon Award is awarded to “those who have continued to photograph local people, nature, culture, etc. for many years and are recognized for their contribution to the community. ” If you look at the breadth of railway photography that Mr. HIROTA embodies, he seems to be a perfect match with the conditions of the award. I am delighted that the Hidanno Kazuuemon Award, which was established in 2010, has a new chapter.

       After explanation based on careful survey by Hiroshi SUGANUMA, judging of the Overseas Photographer Award took place and eventually the award was given to Astrid JAHNSEN from Peru. Jansen’s method of carefully reviewing encyclopedias, newspapers, magazines, albums, etc., and photographing them in order to reaffirm the use of gender-biased images asks very contemporary questions. Her series of works that expose the ideology behind various discourses and transform memories into criticism are highly acclaimed.

       This year marks the third year that the judges wore masks during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, by mid-March, wearing masks became an individual decision, and in early May, after Golden Week, the position of the new coronavirus will be shifted to category 5 under the Infectious Diseases Law. At the Higashikawa International Photo Festival, which will be held in the summer, measures against infectious diseases will be greatly relaxed, and events will be held like in the past. Higashikawa believes cultural activities are neither non-essential nor non-urgent, and the Higashikawa Prize and the Higashikawa International Photo Festival have continued even in the midst of the pandemic. I would like to once again express my deep gratitude to the people of Higashikawa for their great efforts and empathy in their daily lives.

Osamu Ueno
Higashikawa Photography Award Jury Committee