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Japan Center Essay Competition

Frequently Asked Questions


Q1. I have a research essay that I wrote for my social science class. May I use that to enter the competition?

A1. No. A research essay is not eligible. Rather, you should write an essay that carries your voice and gives the judges the sense that you are engaged with your topic personally. Research essays are meant to convey information about a topic in an objective fashion that leaves the voice of the author out, and in this essay your voice needs to be heard. Remember that this competition is looking for an "original" essay where you connect some aspect of Japan with your personal experiences, views, and/or future goals.

Q2. I have never been to Japan, and I don't know if I can write well about a culture that I have no personal experience with. Will my essay be considered?

A2. Yes. You may have more experience than you think. These days we find ourselves more and more immersed in other cultures as members of a global community. Not only is it possible to appreciate cultures of places we have never been to, we can also nurture appreciation for cultures through sharing. That is one of the goals of this essay competition.

Q3. I am not a strong writer but I have some good ideas for this essay. May I still enter?

A3. Yes. If you look at the rubric for scoring that the judges use, you will see that technical control is a significant portion of the judging. However, originality and creativity are also valued. The best approach may be to write your original idea and revise to reach a best draft. It helps greatly if you read your essay aloud when finished. It is also a good idea to ask a friend to help you with further revision, grammar-checking and proofreading.

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