Translation contests (Japanese => English) for 2016

By | January 20, 2016

In addition to getting my feet wet with freelance translation via Gengo, I am also considering entering one or more translation contests in order to help gain experience, and (if things go well) win a prize or two.

I expected a quick google search to yield a bunch of contests, but I found that many of the contests that came up were from past years and weren’t likely to continue this year. So I decided to write up a list of contests which are available in 2016 and give a brief summary of each. The details I give for each contest may have changed between the time I wrote this and when you reading it, so make sure to verify on the respective site if you are interested. Also, if you know of any contests that I haven’t mentioned here, please let me know.

These contests are all specifically for translation from Japanese to English, except the last one which is from any source language. I focused mostly on Japanese so there are probably many other contests out there which apply to any source language.

(Note: While I researching these contests I came upon this great interview:


Kurodahan Press Translation Prize (

Type of entry: short story

Submission date: end of September each year

Number of winners: 1

Prizes: Winning translation is usually published in an anthology (restrictions apply), plus 30,000 Yen cash.

Annual JAT contest (

Type of entry: real-life text (examples of past texts are on the website)

Submission date: Oct 31 2016 (estimated)

Number of winners: 1st place, 2nd place, and finalists

Prizes: free JAT membership, feedback from the judges on your submission, free registration for IJET-27, etc. (estimated)

Notes: The 2016 contest has not been announced yet but I would guess it will be announced around the same time as last year, in September.

JLPP Translation Competition (

Type of entry: short story and essay (examples of past texts are on the website)

Submission date: July 1 – July 31 2016 (estimated)

Number of winners: 1st place, 2nd place, and finalists

Prizes: unknown (a previous year of this contest gave an “award certificate and an extra prize”)

Notes: The 2016 contest has not been announced yet but I would guess it happens around the same time as last year, in February.

Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize Fund (

Type of entry: Seems pretty open-ended, but you must explain the “significance” of the text you choose. (maximum length 20,000 words)

Submission date: July 1, 2016

Number of winners: two

Prizes: $1500 (to one published translator and one unpublished translator), plus the winning entry is published online.

Note: Held in honor of Kyoko Selden, a prolific translator (among other things).

2016-2017 Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature (

Type of entry: book-length literary works (including poems, novels, manga, etc.)

Submission date: June 1, 2016

Number of winners: variable

Prizes: $6000 divided up between the winners

Note: Held by The Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University.

Close Approximations international translation contest (

Type of entry: poetry (5-10 pages), fiction, or literary nonfiction (10-25 pages)

Submission date: Feb 1

Number of winners: six (two for each category)

Prizes: 1,000 USD (winner), 500 USD (runner-up). Each winner’s work will also be featured in the 2016 issue.

Notes: There are many rules for this contest, please check the above link. The source language can be any language.

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