SAN FRANCISCO — The Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California has launched a photo contest with the following statement:

“Preserving and defining our Japanese American cultural heritage is more important than ever before. With the passing of generations, the growing diversity of our community, and the varied experiences of culture that depend on things such as geography, ethnicity, education, practices and traditions, our viewpoints and definitions of Japanese American cultural heritage are ever expanding.

jcccnc photo contest“The Japanese American Cultural Heritage Photography Contest invites individuals of all ages, backgrounds and generations to visually capture what ‘Japanese American culture’ means to them.

“What makes culture special means something different to everyone: it could be different items, people, places, artifacts, celebrations, or images. The theme is broad to encourage a wide variety of thought, memories, stories and opinion.

“Japanese American culture differs from the traditional culture of Japan as it lives in an environment where it coincides with other cultures and thus has been adapted and ‘revised’ to meet the current needs of those who respect and follow it.

“It also has a different interpretation based on your age and experience; whether you are a Nisei, Gosei, Hapa or Shin-Issei; whether you are born and raised in an area where Japanese American cultural practices are commonly practiced; or whether you reside in a small town where only yearly activities reflecting the Japanese American culture take place. Whatever it is, wherever you’re from, it’s your heritage and your culture and we want to see it.

“Specifically, we are interested in what Japanese American culture means to you as an individual and request that you capture that in a visual image as well as document your thoughts, memories, story, or opinion.

“Visual entries may be in color, black and white, or other tones, but must be a photograph taken by you. Cameras from cell phones to professional SLRs can be used. No other medium will be accepted.

“This contest strongly encourages photographers of all levels, from the ‘never took a picture’ person to the avid photographic hobbyist. The entries will not solely be judged by artistic value, but also by the creativity in defining cultural heritage and how well the image relates to the written narrative supporting it.”

Prizes are $1,000 for first place, $750 for second place, $500 for third place.

From each month’s submissions, the judges will pick one Photo of the Month winner who is awarded $100. These winners are still eligible for the grand prize.

The contest is open to anyone who has a connection to Japanese American heritage. All ages are welcome.

Send in a photo, the application form, and a 200-to-500-word description by email to or by mail to: JCCCNC – Photo Contest, 1840 Sutter St., Suite 201, San Francisco, CA 94115.

Both the photo and the story behind it will be considered by the judges when determining the winners. There will be five judges with varied backgrounds, interests and experience.

General guidelines:

1. All submissions must be received by Nov. 1 to be eligible for the prizes.

2. Photo must be taken by you.

3. Application must be completely filled out.

4. Include: 200-500 words telling your story and describing how your photo resonates with Japanese American heritage and what it means to you.

5. Opening exhibit will be held Nov. 23 from 12 to 2 p.m. at the JCCCNC. Submissions will be displayed at this event. Winners will be announced and prizes will be presented.

Contest information and application is posted at For more information, email

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