The Higashikawa Awards 受賞者

The Overseas Photographer Award

Mo Yi
Lives in Zhejiang, China

The Domestic Photographer Award

SETO Masato
Lives in Tokyo

The New Photographer Award

Lives in Tokyo

The Special Photographer Award

Lives in Tokyo

The Hidano Kazuemon Award

NAKANO Masataka
Lives in Tokyo

The Jury Committee of the 36th 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 37th Higashikawa Photography Awards

Selection of the 37th Town of Photography Higashikawa Award was carried out on March 3, 2021. Those nominated this year include 73 photographers for the Domestic Photographer Award, 88 for the New Photographer Award, 26 for the Special Photographer Award, 38 for the Hidano Kazuuemon Award, and 29 for the Overseas Photographer Award. Although we expected fewer nominees due the COVID-19 crisis, in the end there was an approximate 10% increase from last year.

Like years past, the morning was spent examining photo books and resources. From the afternoon, the selection process began to choose 5 awardees from 205 photographers. Although two jurors were absent this year, they submitted their nominees in advance which was accounted for in the final count.


For the Domestic Photographer Award, it was a battle between three photographers in the final stages with SETO Masato winning after the final vote and discussion. Son of the Japanese father and Vietnamese mother, he has been going back and forth between Japan and Thailand, and his exhibition, “Maps of Memory” was a culmination of over 50 years of photographing the daily lives of the people, the regional characteristics, and society of various regions in Asia. His work exposes photography as a medium not only for “recording” but also as “memory”. From his debut work, “Bangkok, Hanoi 1982-1987” to his most recent work, “Silent Mode2020”, each series and their well-planned exhibitions also have received high praise.


For the New Photographer Award, which each year sees a hard and close fight, those remaining in the final stage included IWANE Ai, SAITO Harumichi, TAGAWA Motonari, HAYASHI Noriko, MIZUTANI Yoshinori, and YAMAMOTO Ayaka. After several rounds of voting and discussion, IWANE Ai was selected for her overall activities including her photo book “KIPUKA”, publication “Trip to Kipuka”, and the exhibition, “Twilight Daylight: Contemporary Japanese Photography Vol.17” which includes new work taken in the spring under the declaration of the State of Emergency. While continuing traditional documentary photography methods, she goes beyond orthodox frameworks with her dynamic style. This is no doubt appropriate for the New Photographer Award.


For the Special Photographer Award, SHIRAISHI Chieko was selected for her photo book, “Shika Watari (Deer Crossing)”, which captures Hokkaido’s winter and the scenery of Doto (EasternHokkaido) in a unique monochromatic tone. Her photographs capture the uniqueness of the region, the tranquil nature where migratory birds fly by the seaside and herds of Hokkaido sika deer cross frozen lakes. As these work focus on Hokkaido as subject matter, Shiraishi’s work perfectly fits the stipulations for the Special Photographer Award.


For the Hidano Kazuuemon Award, NAKANO Masataka was chosen for his consistent photography of Tokyo. Although his retrospective exhibition “Tokyo” was held in 2019, the scenes of “TOKYO NOBODY” capture Tokyo without people, and with the COVID-19 crisis, the photographs take on new meaning. Reflecting how meaning changes according to the times is one unique quality of photography and awarding the Hidano Kazuuemon Award to works that capture a region over a long period of time was a chance to revalidate the meaning of this award.


For the Overseas Photographer Award, after the explanations by juror SUGANUMA Hiroshi based on his careful research, Mo Yi was selected from China. As if overturning traditional photographic practices, Mo’s works embody the transformation from traditional realistic photography to conceptual realistic photography in China. While continuing to use photography as a medium, Mo was selected for his continual work that repeatedly explores visual experimentation.


Normally each year selection takes place around a round table, but this year, with the declaration of the State of Emergency, all the masked jurors assembled in a large room separated by a large table in order to prevent the spread of the virus. That being said, the selection process, with the fervent discussion and debate, did not change. It should be noted that a bento lunch was taken in the jury room, and many jurors enthusiastically examined resources even during that time.

Although 2020 will be remembered for the COVID-19 crisis, there were not a few occurrences with adverse conditions for photography and cameras. Despite this, the fact that award selection could safely take place as in the past is no doubt a result of long history since the “Declaration of Town of Photography” in 1985 to today. Needless to say, this is due to the cooperation and sympathy of the people of Higashikawa. This year’s selection process will also be remembered for our increasing gratitude to the residents of Higashikawa.

Osamu Ueno
Higashikawa Photography Award Jury Committee