A list of translation competitions for Japanese to English translators in 2023. I’ve also posted a list of articles at the bottom which should help!
Japanese – English Translation Competitions 2022
I’ve been keeping an eye on Japanese to English translation competitions over the last few years and noticed a distinct drop in opportunities for aspiring translators. The Manga Translation Battle hasn’t run since 2018 and the Kurodahan Press translation competition shut down after 2020. Most other competitions focus on unpublished literary works that have already been completely translated but not published, (which is a lot of unpaid ground work!)
But the two main ones that aspiring translators should check out are the JLPP International Translation Competition and the JAT Contest for New and Aspiring Translators.
8th JLPP International Translation Competition
*Great for aspiring translators*
Japanese to English translation competition. Aimed to “foster emerging translators of Japanese and promote Japanese literature”.
You have 6 months to translate the pieces but they are always surprisingly difficult and long, so don’t wait until June to start! I highly suggest checking out the previous winners and feedback from judges to get an idea of what they’re looking for.
Translation Content: A short story provided by them.
“Watashi wa samishikatta”
by Fujino Kaori(from Dress, KAWADE SHOBO SHINSHA)
Deadline: Must submit application and translation between June 30th 2023
Prize: Prize winners will be awarded a certificate and trophy, as well as a monetary prize of 1,000,000 yen for Grand Prize winners and 250,000 yen for Second Prize winners.
Restrictions: Must not have published a book-length translation before. (The organizers have confirmed that light novels don’t count. You can enter if you have translated a light novel.)
Twentieth Annual JAT Contest for New and Aspiring Translators
*Great for aspiring translators*
The Japan Association of Translators (JAT) is a great organisation for Japanese translators. Their annual translation competition is aimed at beginner translators with less than three years experience.
You always have one month to complete the translation of a generic piece of text that freelancers are likely to translate. This is not literary translation. Finalists get feedback from the judges which is incredibly valuable as a beginner.
More information to come in 2023.
Translation Content: Generic document.
Deadline: Competition open only between October 1st – 31st
Prize: JAT membership, feedback, free ticket/travel/accommodation for IJET.
Restrictions: Translator with less than three years experience.
J-Net Translation Competition
I had NO IDEA this competition existed because it’s impossible to find information on it! Partially because they don’t have any online presence, but also because it’s for J-Net members only.
It costs £25/year to be a J-Net member.
Japanese – English Translation Competitions 2023
For Complete Translations
Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for
the Translation of Japanese Literature 2022-2023
(Donald Keene Translation Competition)
The Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture at Columbia University annually awards $6,000 for this competition. A prize is given for the best translation of a modern work or a classical work, or the prize is divided between equally distinguished translations.
This contest says it is restricted to US citizens/residents. However, they occasionally award “outstanding translations by non-citizens or non-permanent-residents of the United States.”
Translation Content: Translations must be of book-length Japanese works: novels, collections of short stories, manga, essays, memoirs, drama, or poetry. Submissions may be unpublished manuscripts, works in press, or books published during the two years prior to the prize year (for the current prize, this means publication dates in 2020 and afterward).
Deadline: June 1st 2022
Prize: up to $6,000
Restrictions: Must be a citizen or resident of USA. (Sometimes award prize to non-citizens/residents.)
John Dryden Translation Competition 2022 – 2023
A literary translation competition for any language translated into English. Pieces can be a poetry, prose, or drama from any period. Winners are responsible for copyright clearance of the pieces they submit.
Entrees cannot have been previously published including web or self-published. They must not have been entered into other competitions.
Translation Content: 3000-7000 word unpublished translation of poetry, prose, or drama.
Deadline: Entry open from September 2022 (deadline in February 2023)
Prize: First prize: £350; second prize: £200; third prize: £100; other entries may receive commendations.
All three prizes also include one year’s BCLA membership.
Additional information: The entry fee is £10 sterling for one, £15 for two, or £20 for three entries.
Selden Memorial Translation Prize
This competition aims to celebrate Japanese literature, giving more weight to texts with “significant meaning”.
This means you can’t just translate just anything, but something which has meaning. E.g a text that looks at identity, or a woman’s role, or the impact of disaster on Japan, etc.
You do not need permission to publish the translated text from the original copyright holder, but they would like it. Their rules state you at least need to contact them copyright holder.
[No information released for 2022 yet.]
Translation Content: Unpublished translation of Japanese literature. Up to 20,000 words.
Deadline: August 1st (maybe?)
Additional information: Must send physical or digital copies. Have contacted the copyrights holder. Plus, a 1000 essay explaining the significance of the text.
Useful Articles on Translation