Diplomats bag ‘cool’ photo prizes

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

Ciaran Chestnutt, first secretary of the Australian Embassy, on Thursday won the Prince Takamado Memorial Prize while Mayssa Hamada from the Egyptian Embassy received the Grand Prize in this year’s photo contest featuring the works of diplomats posted in Japan.

Celebrating its 16th anniversary this year, “Japan Through Diplomats’ Eyes” at the Roppongi Hills complex showcases an array of photographs taken by diplomats and their spouses that offer glimpses of Japan as seen by outsiders.

This year, 53 diplomats from 33 countries submitted entries under the theme of “Cool Japan,” all offering eye-opening insights into what they see as “cool” aspects of the nation.

Chestnutt’s photo shows his young niece walking with a geisha in kimono and looking up at her utterly awestruck.

“I think I captured the awe that a lot of foreigners feel for traditional Japanese culture,” said Chestnutt, who described Japan as a very “photogenic” country.

Hamada, meanwhile, took a photo of an everyday scene: a big intersection near Shibuya Station in Tokyo, with throngs of pedestrians threading their way while maintaining complete orderliness.

“I think my picture represents how (people here) are organized and caring (for others). Nobody hits other (passersby) and everyone just goes with no hitting and sound. The way they stand in order is also very impressive,” Hamada said.

There is a great variety among the photos. One of the most quirky was submitted by the spouse of an employee at the Russian Embassy. It shows young male “cosplayers” in housemaid attire as they enjoy a “hanami” cherry blossom party.

  • Patricia Yarrow

    Beautiful photo of the Princess, and what a great idea for an exhibition. Could the story be updated to be more specific about where it is held? The “Roppongi Complex” is a bit vague. Anyway, thanks for covering this event.