Macedonian Ambassador to Japan Andrijana Cvetkovik’s take on the Hijiribashi Bridge over the Kanda River in Tokyo won her the Grand Prize in the 19th Japan Through Diplomats’ Eyes photography contest this week.
The annual competition was set up to let diplomats and their families share their perspectives on Japan through the camera’s lens.
In the ambassador’s shot, titled “Circle of life,” the bridge’s arch connects with its reflection in the waters, as a Chuo Line train appears to run by.
At the opening ceremony for the exhibition Tuesday at the Roppongi Hills complex in Tokyo, Cvetkovik told The Japan Times that the moment she took the photo reminded her of scenes she has observed in Japan for the past 11 years, as well as some of the worst moments in diplomacy.
“It reminds me of the repeating history of war and conflict and terrorism,” she said. “Through this symbolic photo I would like to express my wish that history will not repeat.”
Cvetkovik, who is also a film director, said she discovered the spot near Ochanomizu Station while searching for a location to shoot her 2009 movie “Time of the Wave.” She hopes the circle could symbolize love, peace and mutual understanding instead.
Pierre Wolf, spouse of the Guatemalan ambassador, received the Prince Takamado Memorial Prize for his photograph of an artisan working with molten glass. The prize is a tribute to the late Prince Takamado, who was an avid photographer and died in 2002.
Princess Hisako, Prince Takamado’s widow and honorary president of the contest, presented Wolf with the award, saying he had discovered a perfect example of “scintillating Japan” — the theme for this year’s contest — in the meeting of glass and light.
The princess said the photographer has “powerfully portrayed the artist as a creator, and drawn our attention to the scintillating beauty of creation.”
“The moment that cold glass is created out of the heat of fire, is the exact moment when the artist shines,” she said.
Wolf told The Japan Times he found the encounter with the Tokyo-based artisan a perfect opportunity to present the way he views Japan.
“This photograph represents the Japanese spirit,” Wolf said.
He said he wanted to convey the artist’s passion, perfectionism and “brilliant” skills, as well as portray the woman’s role in modern society.
German Ambassador Hans Carl von Werthern, meanwhile, won the new Ambassador Prize, which was set up to address growing interest from the top diplomats in the competition.
Werthern submitted a shot of a tranquil pond filled with water dripping from a stick of bamboo, with the rippled surface mirroring the autumn leaves in the garden of his Tokyo residence.
Werthern said that, for him, the scene symbolizes Japan’s harmony between man and nature.
He dedicated the prize to his father, a photographer, who passed away before Werthern was appointed ambassador to Japan.
The contest was initiated by former Luxembourg Ambassador to Japan Pierre Gramegna in the belief that diplomats could share their perspectives on Japan through photography.
“I think that it’s actually come out to the stage where the Japanese are discovering a lot through the eyes of diplomats,” Princess Hisako said.
This year’s winning works were selected from more than 500 photographs supplied in the 72 entries submitted by diplomats from 42 countries.
The jury also presented the Special Mention Award to three works for outstanding ideas in capturing scintillating aspects of life in Japan, praising the diplomats’ understanding of culture and tradition.
One of the Special Mention winners, Tongan Ambassador Tania Tupou, snapped a mural showing smiling faces on garage doors among the damaged buildings covered with vinyl sheeting in the quake-hit town of Mashiki, Kumamoto Prerecture.
“My view is that all of Japan is scintillating and I tried to capture some happiness of Mashiki,” Tupou said, adding that she was rooting for the town’s recovery.
Jason Hyland, deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy, and Nicolas St-Pierre, spouse of a diplomat at the Canadian Embassy, also received Special Mentions.
The photographs are showing at Hills Cafe/Space in Roppongi Hills from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. through Monday. The works also will be displayed later in Nagoya, Kobe and Higashikawa in Hokkaido. Admission is free.