The Embassy of Finland in Tokyo and the Finnish Institute in Japan co-organized "My Finland" Photo & Illustration Contest during the spring as part of the commemorative events to celebrate Finland's centennial year of Independence. Five judges selected the winners of the three categories on May 23.
The three categories were illustrations for adults, illustrations for children under 12 years of age, and photos. Applicants were asked to send their works with "My Finland" as theme, which varied from tourism destinations to animals seen in Finnish nature, and even wedding photos. There were more than 300 photos submitted, and about 40 drawings. The juries were Hiromi Nakamura, Curator for Tokyo Photographic Art Museum, Finnish photographer Petri Artturi Asikainen, Japanese illustrator Nashie, Kati Laakso, Head of the Culture and Communications at the Finnish Institute in Japan, and the Jury Leader Ambassador of Finland Jukka Siukosaari. "The level of the works being so high made the task of the jury immensely difficult. All works captured many sides of Finland and being a Finn, which can be commended," said Ambassador Siukosaari. "I wouldn't want to do this every day!"
Many of the photos were about Finnish nature, showing the beautiful lakes and forests covered in snow, autumn leaves or summery sunshine. Although they were picturesque, none of the scenery photos remained at the end. "Many of them were generic… not bad quality, but they are copies of something with not much originality nor humour," commented photographer Asikainen. Many votes went to photos that centered on people, with Finnish nature acting as supplementary factor.
We are happy to announce the contest winners as follows: Selecting winning illustrations was even harder, since the styles and methods differed tremendously, with all the art pieces showing the many hours and great effort put into them. The juries had to revote several times, the finalist winning by three to two after a heated debate.
Grand Prize: "Sola365"
Name of the winner: Haruka Terao
The baby photo in the woods was a clear number one. It was both personal and artistic, and technically superb with nice light and color, good balance and structure. The presence of the baby is outstanding, catching the eye immediately yet he looks so relaxed in nature. One can also feel the mysteriousness of the forest, and how it spreads in the background. And all the judges nodded in consent to have the berries in the picture.
ILLUSTRATIONS FOR CHILDREN (under 12 years old)
Grand Prize: "Aurora"
Name of the winner: Minori Murano
ILLUSTRATIONS FOR ADULTS (over 12 years old)
Grand Prize: "People I met in Finland"
Name of the winner: Kanoko Tada
The winning piece did not receive an unanimous vote from the beginning, maybe because it had a sense of poison with cynical humor that not all felt comfortable with. Yet the unique "stickiness" was so strong that it held the viewers captive, and wouldn't let go.
2nd and 3rd place winners, and recipients of the Special Jury Awards can be seen in the link below, together with other submitted works. The Embassy and the Finnish Institute hope to be able to exhibit the works somewhere in the near future.
Introduction of Awards and Sponsors:
The winners of the Grand Prize will be invited to a special lunch with Ambassador Siukosaari. 2nd and 3rd prize winners will be awarded with products from Finnish bag brand "LUMI," and those residing in Finland will receive gift vouchers from Japanese restaurants "Fat Ramen" and "Hoku." Other Finnish brand products will be given to recipient of the Special Jury Awards and all children who submitted their works.
LUMI is a Finnish leather bag company established in 2000, with the brand name meaning "snow" in Finnish. Colorful, classical and functional, LUMI products range from bags to smaller items such as wallets and accessories. The designers will be visiting Tokyo this June for the official launch in Japan.
Fat Ramen is a casual noodle bar located in Hietalahti Market Hall, Helsinki. It offers hand-made ramen bowls from lunch time to evening, using the best ingredients of the season and ambitiously combining Asian and Nordic flavours. The menu varies from typical tonkotsu broth to vegan ramen bowls.
Hoku is a Hawaiian-Asian restaurant relocated to Kamppi from Punavuori. Lunch and dinner menus include Wakame and Quinoa Salad, Salmon Teriyaki and Kalua Pork and Tiger Prawns. Customers can also enjoy typical Japanese food such as edamame, gyoza and okonomiyaki. Chef Ryan Shibuya is a 3rd generation Japanese from Hawaii.