Annual Photography Contests in Japan

Japan, with its breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural tapestry, and dynamic urban scenes, provides endless inspiration for photographers. The country hosts a variety of annual photography contests, catering to both local and international talent. These competitions not only celebrate the art of photography but also encourage cultural exchange and creativity. Here’s a roundup of some notable annual photography contests in Japan, offering opportunities for photographers to shine on a global stage.

The Nikon Photo Contest

About: Established in 1969, the Nikon Photo Contest is one of the world’s most prestigious photography competitions, attracting entries from over 170 countries. It aims to enrich global photographic culture by providing a platform for photographers of all skill levels to express their personal visions and stories.

Categories: The contest features multiple categories, including single photos, photo stories (series of photos conveying a story), and videos. Themes vary each year, focusing on aspects of nature, human experience, and innovation.

Entry Period: Typically opens in October and closes in February (Please check the official website for exact dates).

The Tokyo International Foto Awards (TIFA)

About: TIFA celebrates outstanding photography from around the globe, providing winners with significant exposure in the international photography community. The contest aims to recognise and reward visionary photographers who push boundaries and exhibit unique perspectives.

Categories: Open to professional, amateur, and student photographers, with categories ranging from advertising and architecture to nature and people.

Entry Period: Submissions are usually accepted from June to October.

The New Cosmos of Photography Competition (Canon)

About: Sponsored by Canon Inc., the New Cosmos of Photography competition encourages innovative photographic expressions that challenge the boundaries of traditional photography. It’s open to participants worldwide, with no restrictions on age, nationality, or experience.

Categories: There are no specific categories; the competition welcomes all forms of photographic expression, including digital and film photographs, installations, and photo books.

Entry Period: The call for entries typically begins in the spring, with deadlines in June.

The Japan International Wildlife Film Festival (JIWFF) Nature & Wildlife Photography Contest

About: Held in conjunction with the Japan International Wildlife Film Festival, this photography contest focuses on nature and wildlife, aiming to raise awareness about environmental conservation through the power of visual storytelling.

Categories: Includes wildlife, landscapes, underwater photography, and more, emphasising the beauty and fragility of the natural world.

Entry Period: Submissions open in the summer, with deadlines in early autumn.

The Mt. Fuji Photo Contest

About: Celebrating Japan’s iconic Mount Fuji, this contest invites photographers to capture the majestic beauty of this world-renowned symbol. It’s an opportunity to showcase the many faces of Mt. Fuji across seasons and from various perspectives.

Categories: Open to all photography styles and techniques, as long as Mt. Fuji is prominently featured.

Entry Period: Varies yearly, typically with submissions closing in the autumn.

Tips for Contestants

  • Understand the Rules: Carefully review the contest rules, eligibility criteria, and submission guidelines to ensure your entry is valid.
  • Study Past Winners: Analysing the work of past winners can provide insights into the contest’s preferences and standards.
  • Be Original: Judges look for unique, compelling images that evoke emotion or tell a story. Originality and creativity are key to standing out.
  • Pay Attention to Detail: Technical excellence, composition, and clarity are crucial. Ensure your images are of the highest quality before submitting.


Japan's annual photography contests offer a splendid avenue for photographers to gain exposure and engage with a global community of like-minded individuals. Whether capturing the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms or the timeless elegance of ancient temples, these competitions celebrate the diverse and dynamic spirit of photography. Participating in these contests not only challenges photographers to hone their craft but also contributes to the rich tapestry of photographic art that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries.