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Japan Center Essay Competition Sponsored by Canon U.S.A.

The aim of the JCSB essay competition is to provide young Americans with an opportunity to think creatively and critically about their lives by relating them to some aspect of Japan to help them broaden their horizons and develop global citizenship.  

Contestants should write, in English, one or more aspects of Japan including art, culture, tradition, values, philosophy, history, society, politics, business, and technology in relation to their personal views, experiences, and/or future goals. (Contestants do not need to have any experience in visiting Japan or studying Japanese.)

18th (2022-2023) Essay Competion

Deadline for essay submission:    January 8th, 2023

Read the Announcement carefully for entry qualifications, rules, and procedures. We are looking for original essays with your thoughts based on your experiences and your aspirations rather than information essays. Reading the FAQs before writing your essay is highly recommended. 






For questions, email us at:  mail


Sponsor: Canon U.S.A.     

Supporter Consulate General of Japan in New York

Honorary Judges:

Mikio Mori, Ambassador and Consulate General of Japan in New York

Kevin Ogawa, President and CEO, Canon U.S.A.

JCSB Board Member in Charge: Yoko Ojima  

Canon U.S.A. Representatives in Charge: Dawn Shields

Organizing Chair: Eriko Sato

Chief Judge: Sachiko Murata

Committee members: Roxanne Brockner, Carolyn Brooks, Peg Christoff, Kristina Chambers, Mary Diaz, Marlene Dubois, MaryAnn Hannon, Feng-Qian Li, Jane McNulty, Patricia Marinaccio, Hiroko Matsuzaki, Eva Nagase, Francesca Nakagawa, Chikako Nakamura, Atsuko Oyama, Yvette Vetro, and Gerard Senese

Previous Essay Competition (2021-2022)


Media attention: Bloomberg Longview News-JournalShukan NY SeikatsuSBU News 


High School Division Best Essay Award

1st Place Best Essay Award and Consul General of Japan Special Award

“Hitofude Ryuu: The Meaning Behind Tradition” by Sally Chen (Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts)

2nd Place Best Essay Award

“Cabinet of Porcelain” by Mohammad Fahad (Deer Park High School)

3rd Place Best Essay Award

“Ichi-go Ichi-e, Once a Meeting” by Tara Isabel Lago (Staten Island Technical High School)

College Division Best Essay Award


Uchida Memorial Award

“The Tears We Shed” by Devin Overend (Stony Brook University)

Special Award

“Furoshiki: An Understanding of Japan, the World, and Self” by Martin Kordas (Stony Brook University)

“The Glass Half Full: A Story of Perseverance” by Ashlin Benny (New Hyde Park Memorial High School)

“The Magic of Yokai” by Nolan Jin (Paul J. Gelinas Junior High School)


Grace Huang (Stony Brook University)

Steven Mendell (Deer Park High School)

Justin Neiman (James Madison High School)

Sarah Zhao (Townsend Harris High School) 


Carolyn Cohen (Stony Brook University)

Ariana Borut (Horace Mann School)

Yulu Brown (Stony Brook University)

Shanice Dorzilor (Professional Performing Arts School)

Rina Hisajima (Cornell University)

Luka Koll (Winchester Thurston)

Sydney Koshy (Hicksville High School)

Shranaya Kumar (Townsend Harris High School)

Alice Liu (Stuyvesant High School)

Rajiv Singh (New Hyde Park Memorial High School)

Matthew Stanton (Stony Brook University)

Stone Wang (Stony Brook University)

Susan Wu (Stony Brook University)

Darcie Wu (LaGuardia High School)

Selina Zheng (Staten Island Technical High School)


flower"Heart of Japan”  was published in 2016. It is a collection of 70 essays selected from 1,992 essays submitted through 169 local colleges and high schools during the first ten annual essay competitions. This essay competition was launched in 2005 with generous donation from Canon USA.  The aim of this program is to encourage young Americans to think outside the box and find a connection to Japan, a culturally very distinct country. They often reflect on their personal experiences and their future goals and come up with unique and original thoughts, some of which make us in tears and fill us with positive spirit. The essays are screened by the Japan Center’s committee members and a panel of judges that consist of Stony Brook University’s faculty members. The winners are formally recognized at the award ceremony that takes place at the Wang Center in each spring and the top winners have been invited to the Japanese Ambassador’s residence for a formal luncheon with the ambassador, which has been creating once-in-lifetime memories for young writers.

Heart of Japan

 Book cover photo © Yvette Vetro


Past Competitions:   

17th competition; 16th competition; 15th competition14th Competition;  13th Competition;12th Competition; 11th Competition; First ten competitions