THE BACKYARD is happy to announce the creation of a new grant for photographers & photo-based arttistss (35 years old and under) working on original, ongoing projects. The grant is prized at 100,000 JPY, to be pitched in front of a live audience.

The idea of the grant stemmed from a personal experience I had while living in Paris. I was a finalist for a grant organized by Netherlands embassy during Paris Photo season that was to be awarded to a photographer who best pitched their project. My presentation was horrible and I didn’t pitch my work well at all, so of course I didn’t win. I realized this had a lot to do with my background and lack of experience. Since then I have realized that many fellow Japanese photographers also possessed the similar problem of not being able to present our projects well.

Since moving back to Japan, I want to address this issue and improve it. I believe that if there were more opportunities to present and explain our works, local photographers would be able to gain experience in communicating our ideas to a wider audience.

Thanks to the internet, more than ever we have the ability to access information. More and more Japanese photographers are also gaining the opportunity to travel abroad. However, just like me, there are colleagues who struggle in communicating with potential audiences, thereby missing out on valuable opportunities.

I believe that the photographic work itself has to be important, but equally important is our ability to develop communication skills that will help tell our stories and projects.

Generous friends have kindly agreed to support this grant, I cannot thank them enough. Even though this is not a big grant, I hope it can help improve the current situation for photographers who desire to present their work to a wider audience.

For now, the grant application is only available in Japanese. However, the grant is open to anyone who resides in Japan and who can present their projects in Japanese.

Kosuke Okahara


Summery: Up to 10 finalists will pitch their projects in front of a live audience.
Grant: 100,000 JPY x 2 persons
Deadline: August 2nd, 2020
Application fee: There is no application fee
Finalist announcement: August 23rd, 2020
Final pitch: September 21st, 2020
Final pitch venue: THE BACKYARD | 82-5, Keikoincho, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto, 602-0002

Judging process and announcement
First round: THE BACKYARD team will review and select projects that will advance to the second round of reviews.
2nd round: 5 judges will review the projects and select up to 10 finalists.
Announcement of Finalists: August 23rd, 2020
Final pitch: September 21st, 2020. All finalists will pitch their projects in front of a live audience. Each finalist has 15 minutes to present their projects.
Final judges: Judges of the final pitch will be audience members who come to the presentations. Each person has 1 vote. Due to limited space, we will announce the call for audience =judges before the final pitch.
Final result: Two projects with the most vote will receive the grant.
Final result announcement: Final result will be announced in front of the audience after voting. We will also announce on THE BACKYARD’s website and social media.

*We won’t be able to answer any inquiry on judging process.

Jury members
Tomoki Matsumoto – T&M Projects founder, director, and editor.
T&M Projects was founded in 2014, Tokyo, has been publishing art books and photobooks, and collaborating with many artists and institutions. T&M Projects has been exhibiting at many fairs in Japan and abroad, and act as bridges in various places.

Hideko Kataoka – Director of Photography at Newsweek Japan
Hideko Kataoka has been director of photography at Newsweek Japan, since 2001. She joined the magazine as a photographer in 1991, covering national news, social issues and portraiture of world business and cultural leaders.As director of photography, she oversees and directs photography both for the printed and digital editions of the magazine as well as its special issues. Since 2004, She launched the Picture Power section in the magazine, a weekly photo essay that captures underreported topics around the world, a book “Ten Years of Picture Power”, with selected photo stories from the section, was published in 2014.Hideko is a lecturer in photojournalism and documentary photography at Tokyo Polytechnic University since 2013, does portfolio reviews and has served as a juror at international photography festivals and competitions, such as World Press Photo, FotoFest and many others.

Takashi Arai –  Artist, Filmmaker
Takashi Arai (1978-) is a Kawasaki / Tono based visual artist and filmmaker. Arai first encountered photography while he was a university student of biology. In an effort to trace photography to its origins, he encountered daguerreotype, and after much trial and error mastered the complex technique. Arai does not see daguerreotype as a nostalgic reproduction of a classical method; instead, he has made it his own personal medium, finding it a reliable device for storing memory that is far better for recording and transmitting interactions with his subjects than modern photography. Since the beginning in 2010, when he first became interested in nuclear issues, Arai has used the daguerreotype technique to create individual records—micro-monuments—of his encounters with surviving crew members, and the salvaged hull, of the fallout-contaminated Daigo Fukuryūmaru fishing boat, records that touch upon the fragmented reality of events in the past. This project led him to photograph the deeply interconnected subjects of Fukushima, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.Arai has received numerous awards including the Solas Prize in 2014, the 41st Kimura Ihei Photography Award in 2016, and the category prize at the 72th Salerno International Film Festival in 2018. Arai’s works are held in the collections of the Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo, and Musée Guimet, among others.Since 2017, Arai has been actively working as a researcher for interdisciplinary studies, such as “Interdisciplinary Studies of Radiation Effects on the Everyday Life of Victims” at the National Museum of Ethnology and “Anima Philosophica: Nature, Disaster, and Animism in Japan” at the Institute for Research in Humanities, Kyoto University.

Mika Kitamura – Photographer
Born in 1982 in Fukuoka, Japan. Graduated from Tokyo Polytechnic University with MFA. Kitamura particularly uses “snapshot” as a method of photography. Her works are based on the idea to search for  “ things that can be photographed and not be photographed” . She received the award of excellence at “Canon News Cosmos of Photography” in 2005, and “VOCA 2019 Ohara Museum Award” in 2019. She published her first monograph “Einmal ist Keinmal” in 2013. Her series often exhibited nationally and internationally including  “Einmal ist Keinmal” (Nikon Salon, Shinjuku and Osaka 2005),  “TWO SIGHTS PAST/New Cosmos of Photography” (Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo, 2006),  “PORTRAITS “PORTRAIT”” (PUNCTUM, Tokyo, 2005),  “TWO SIGHTS PAST” (Lumen Gallery, Budapest, 2008), “mika kitamura photo exhibition” (SEIBU,Shibuya, Tokyo,  2010),  “sound of photography” (SEIBU,Shibuya, Tokyo, 2010),   “Nature in Tokyo” KYOTOGRAPHIE、produced by M le magazine (Yuuhisai Kodokan, Kyoto, 2014), “New Japanese Photography”( DOOMED GALLERY, UK, 2015), “YOU/I” Shiogama Photo Festival 2018, (Kamei House, Miyagi, 2018),  “TOPOS” (Alt_Medium, Tokyo, 2019),  “VOCA2019 THE VISION OF CONTEMPORARY ART” (The Ueno Royal Museum, Tokyo 2019) . She lives and works in Tokyo.

Marina Amada –  Independent curator and art producer.
Specialized in an organized chaos, she is an independent curator and art project producer, active in France, U.S. and Japan. Most recently, she curated “What a Wonderful World” by Weronika Gesicka (2019 KYOTOGRAPHIE),  “Seuils de Visibilité by George Brecht, Yona Friedman, Christian Marclay and others” (2016, CNEAI=) and “Paysages de Portraits by Makiko Tanaka” (2018, Marina Amada Art Projects Space Paris) as well as coordinated the production of the “PAN by Taro Izumi” (2017, Palais de Tokyo.) She served as the chief operating officer for KYOTOGRAPHIE 2019 edition.


• Open to all races, nationalities, religions, and sex. However, the entire judging process will be conducted in Japanese, so applicants must be able to pitch their work in Japanese.
• Applicants have to be the sole owner of copyright holders of their submitted works.
• Any kind of ongoing photographic based projects will be accepted.
• If your work is selected to be a finalist, you must be present for the pitch and presentation.
• Those who already won any major Japanese or International photo prize will not be eligible to apply. (If you are unsure, please contact us.)
• Group submissions or collectives projects are not eligible to apply.
• Each applicant is able to submit only one project.
• Only individuals 35 years old and under as of March 5th, 2020, are eligible to apply.
• The winner of the grant must submit 3 images for promotional purposes. This include usage rights on THE BACKYARD’s website, social media accounts, as well as other publications used to promote the grant and related purposes.


How to apply

Deadline: August 2nd, 2020

Projects: Projects must be on-going. THE BACKYARD Pitch Grant is aimed to help photographers with their ongoing projects.

File Specifications:1. Photographs (jpeg / 2000Pix – longest side/ 72dpi / Up to 40 images)

2. Project proposal (Less than 1200 letters, only in Japanese / A4 size / PDF format)

In the first and second round, judging will be based on still images and project proposals.

*Just in case, a proposal is not a poem. It is a writing to convince others why this project deserves to get supports.
3. CV (1 page / A4 size / PDF format). Please include your contact information, including email and phone number.

How to submit your application:
1. Please make a folder with your name (ex: kosuke_okahara)
2. Put photographs (jpegs) of your project, your project proposal, and your CV
3. Make a zip file of the folder
4. Please upload the zip file to THE BACKYARD PITCH GRANT UPLOAD

* For final pitch, finalists present with a video projectors to pitch their projects and are able to present video using photographs, exhibition ideas, book ideas so on. Final pitch will be in Japanese.

*All the application data will be deleted after the judging process.