The judges of the first WiK Writing Competition are delighted to announce the winners, as listed below.  Each of the three prize winners will receive a small gift from the Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau, in addition to which the First Prize will feature in the forthcoming WiK Anthology.  The Local Prize Winner will receive a gourmet meal for two at Tadg’s Irish Bar and Restaurant.

First Prize “Kimono Memories”
Name: Peter Jonathan Mallett

Second Prize “Nippon”
Name: Jesse Efron

Third Prize  “To live in Kyoto”
Name: Richard Steiner

Local Prize Winner “In the spring. summer, autumn and winter – Colors in Kyoto”
Name: Mayumi Kawaharada

The judges wish to express their appreciation to all those who entered, and the high quality of submissions made the final decision difficult.  Indeed, each of the judges chose a different piece as their favourite!  In the end though consensus was reached as to the outstanding pieces.  (It should be noted that the judging process was done on a completely anonymous basis throughout to avoid bias.)

The 21 entries came from a surprisingly wide range of places.  Nearly half were submitted from different parts of Japan, not just within Kyoto but such areas as Miyazaki and Fukuoka.  Others came Malaysia, Kathmandu, Philippines and Montreal, suggesting that our publicity must have reached at least some people overseas.  As it happened, however, the winners are all resident in Japan – two in Kyoto, one in Kyotango, and one in Kobe.

In form the entries ranged from a single haiku to essays, pieces of fiction, poems, conversations and personal impressions.  By and large, the prose was more successful; some of the poetry was too slight, some too obscure.  The best pieces were those that got under the skin of Kyoto life, and this was the case with the overall winner which used the Nishijin connection with kimono to reveal something of the secrets that lie behind the courtesies of Kyoto manners.

The one surprise was that some applicants thought a single haiku would carry enough weight to win a prize. Unless you’re a Basho or a Buson, this seems improbable.  However, one of the prizewinners did string a series of haiku together to convey images of Kyoto throughout the year, and this amounted to a substantial and impressive portrayal of seasonal changes.   An alternative approach, which no one attempted, would be to write a poetic essay-cum-haiku in a genre known as haibun.  This form has become more widely known in recent years, and WiK member, Stephen Gill, helps run an English-language competition devoted to the genre which is the only one of its kind in Japan.  (Please see here to learn more.)

This year’s competition has been a learning experience for WiK, and we’re very pleased with the way the process has gone.  Our thanks to the sponsors, the Kyoto Convention and Visitors Bureau, Tadg’s Irish Bar and Restaurant, and for the backing from the International Community Center (kokoka).  I’d also like to publicly thank Karen Tawarayama in particular for facilitating the whole process, as well as Tadg McLoughlin and Shigenori Shibata for acting as judges.  Finally, thanks to all those who took the time to enter the competition.  Your entries made the whole thing worthwhile, and each one was appreciated.

We are eager to build on this year and make next year’s competition even better, so if you have any suggestions or feel you could contribute in any way, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at dougill<at mark>