THE BACKYARD, studio of Kosuke Okahara, is happy to announce the creation of a new grant for photographers & photo-based artists (35 years old and under) working on on-going personal projects. The grant is prized at 100,000 JPY.

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.

This is my personal social activity and I am not earning even 1 cent. 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 can present their projects in Japanese.

Kosuke Okahara


For the update of related event, please check our Facebook page

Overview of PITCH GRANT

Summery: Up to 10 finalists will pitch their projects in front of a live audience.
Grant: 100,000 JPY x 2 persons (subject to change)
Deadline: August 4th, 2021
Application fee: There is no application fee
Finalist announcement: August 27th, 2021
Final pitch: September 20th, 2021 (subject to change due to COVID-19 situation)
Final pitch venue: TBA


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: Juries will review the projects and select up to 10 finalists.
Announcement of Finalists: August 27th, 2021
Final pitch: September 20th, 2021. All finalists will pitch their projects in front of a live audience. Each finalist has 10 minutes to present their projects. (The date of final presentation is subject to change due to COVID-19)
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 (could be added one more person)

Yuuki Toyoda (Photographer, 2020 PITCH GRANT Grantee)
Yuki Toyoda, born in Kumamoto city in 1987. She moved in Minamata city in 2015. She has been taking photographs in her high school learning by herself, and decided to seek her career as a photographer in 2011. Now, her field is around Minamata city, where the massive mercury pollution occurred around 60 years ago. She focuses on climates and life cultures embraced by the land which she is around, not just reflecting the surface of them but trying to touch and to feel them. She pursuits to express both two dimensions at the same time; beautiful nature and people rooting in the land, and obscure social problems such as violation of human rights and discrimination.

Takayuki Kobayashi (flotsam books) |
Takayuki Kobayashi is a owner of flotsam book, a tokyo based book store specialized in visual books including photography books. He started flotsam books as an online store in 2010, then after 10 years, he opened a physical book store in Tokyo. He also organizes book events.

Shiho Fukada (Visual journalist) |
Shiho Fukada is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker and photographer, based in Tokyo, Japan.She started her career as a news photographer after working in the fashion and advertising industry in New York. She has extensive experience in shooting and reporting on stories nationally and internationally and currently pursues underreported stories both in video and photography. After working in the U.S. for nearly a decade, she brought her attention back to Asia and moved to Beijing, contributing regularly to major news organizations. Her work covering the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China received the Grand Prize of Photo of the Year from Editor & Publisher Magazine and was recognized by UNICEF Photo of the Year. Her coverage of the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 2011 received The Visa d’or – Daily Press Award at Visa pour l’Image Perpignan and The Society of Publishers in Asia Awards/News photography award. Moving into multi-media journalism, her work “Japan’s Disposable Workers,” depicting  Japanese workers’ plight during the decades of economic stagnation, received a World Press Photo’s multimedia award and was nominated for an Emmy (2015). Her photographic reporting on Japanese female seniors in incarceration received The Feature Photography Award by the Overseas Press Club of America (2019). She has expanded her visual storytelling to filmmaking, and her short documentary films have been shown at various film festivals and recognized by the Webby Awards and Telly Awards (2020). She is a recipient of the Alicia Patterson Fellowship and the Howard G. Buffett Fund for Women Journalists from the International Women’s Media Foundation.She has a degree in English literature from Sophia University in Japan and received a diploma in Multimedia Journalism from Ateno de Manila University in the Philippines. Her work has been featured in numerous outlets including The New York Times, BBC, The Washington Post, CNN, Time, Stern, New Yorker, Le Monde, MSNBC, among others.

Ai Iwane (Photographer) |
Born in 1975 in Tokyo, Japan. In1991, She relocated to the United States and enrolled in Petrolia High School, where she led to an off-grid and self-sufficient life. She began her career as a photographer in 1996. Her first monograph KIPUKA (Seigensha Art Publishing) was published in 2018. She was awarded the 44th Kimura Ihei Award and the 44th Nobuo Ina Award. Her publications include Journey towards Kipuka (Ohta Publishing), and her latest book, A NEW RIVER (bookshop M).

Fumiko Nakamura (Curator of Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art)


  1. 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.

  2. Applicants have to be the sole owner of copyright holders of their submitted works.

  3. Any kind of ongoing photographic based projects will be accepted.

  4. If your work is selected to be a finalist, you must be present for the pitch and presentation.

  5. Group submissions or collectives projects are not eligible to apply.

  6. Each applicant is able to submit only one project.

  7. Only individuals 35 years old and under as of April 1st, 2021, are eligible to apply.

  8. 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


How to apply

Deadline: August 4th, 2021
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, 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.