Souseki’s international essay contest

On the 100th anniversary of the death of Natsume Soseki (1867-1916), The Asahi Shimbun and three other organizations will jointly hold an international essay contest on the influential Japanese author Natume Souseki.

He is best known for his novels Kokoro, Botchan, I Am a Cat and his unfinished work Light and Darkness. He was also a scholar of British literature and composer of haiku, kanshi, and fairy tales. From 1984 until 2004, his portrait appeared on the front of the Japanese 1000 yen note. In Japan, he is often considered the greatest writer in modern Japanese history.


“Soseki and I.”
The essay must include the circumstances about when the participant read Soseki’s work for the first time (Title of the work, when, where, in what language and why).

Qualifications for participation:

People living overseas or in Japan whose native language is not Japanese and whose period of stay in Japan was or is less than two years. International students studying in Japan are also eligible to participate.

Rules for participation:

The number of Japanese characters must be 2,000 or less.
It is recommended that essays be written on a personal computer and sent as a file attached to an e-mail. But submissions through conventional mail or through faxes will also be accepted. When writing essays by hand, please use manuscript paper. In any of those instances, please attach the application form (Click Here to Download) to the essays.


For e-mail
For conventional mail: “Soseki International Essay Contest” Jimukyoku (secretariat),
1141-10 Kamitome, Miyoshimachi, Irumagun, Saitamaken 354-0045
For faxes:049-274-7815


Aug. 10, 2016

Judges (In random order, honorifics omitted):

Kang Sang-jung, director of Kumamoto Prefectural Theater;

Kunihiko Nakajima, former professor at Waseda University;

Robert Campbell, professor at the University of Tokyo;

Hiroyasu Ando, president of the Japan Foundation;

Atsushi Okamoto, president of Iwanami Shoten Publishers;

Yoshihide Suzuki, chancellor of Ferris Jogakuin;

Yoichi Nishimura, managing director in charge of the editorial office at The Asahi Shimbun Co.


One 最優秀賞(saiyushusho) (highest award); two 優秀賞(yushusho) (second highest award) Three winners (including highest and second highest award) will be invited to attend a symposium on Natsume Soseki
which will be held at the Yurakucho Asahi Hall in Tokyo on 10th December 2016;

and about five 佳作(kasaku) (third highest award)

All winners will be awarded Special set of Souseki’s books .

Announcement of winners:

In The Asahi Shimbun and The Asahi Shimbun Digital in autumn 2016


The Asahi Shimbun Co., Japan Foundation, Iwanami Shoten Publishers and Ferris University


For more information, visit ( (Japanese only).

I will participate as well and I hope I can win. I won’t raise my expectation’s too high but I will do the best I can. I’m usually better at academical writing so I don’t know how this is going to come out, since they explicitly stated not to write academically.

I wish the best of luck to you all.


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