ASAHIKAWA, HOKKAIDO – A photo of a man posing atop a beached and seemingly dead whale won a photography award before triggering a backlash that ended with the prize being revoked, the contest’s organizer said Wednesday.
The Okhotsk Sea Ice Museum in Hokkaido awarded the Hokkaido Governor Award as first prize this month to the photo titled “Conquest,” taken by a man from Kitami, Hokkaido.
But the picture drew criticism on the Internet, with a post saying it was “blasphemy against nature,” which led the photographer to offer to return the prize Tuesday.
The man in the photo was celebrating from his place atop the small whale.
One judge in her review said, “It can be said the young man succeeded in accomplishing a rarely-seen feat,” seemingly praising the man for climbing the whale.
The photo was selected from among 118 works submitted by 62 people across the country. The contest featured the theme “Four Seasons in Okhotsk.”
“We consider the cause (of the backlash) to be our lack of care and awareness about nature and the environment, even though we are an institution that studies them,” Shuhei Takahashi, director of the museum, said. “We are reflecting on that seriously.”