Another year another list of translation competitions for Japanese to English translators! This list comprises of the competitions I could find split into two categories: ones that provide the materials for you to translate, and ones that expect you to find your own materials.


Japanese to English Translation Competitions 2024

Materials Provided by Competition

As always the JLPP International Translation Competition and the JAT Contest for New and Aspiring Translators are running this year. These are both great opportunities for aspiring and inexperienced translators to cut their teeth on translation.


9th JLPP International Translation Competition

Japanese to English translation competition. Aimed to “foster emerging translators of Japanese and promote Japanese literature”.

There is a twist this year with a new category: classic literature! So you can choose if you want to enter the contemporary literature category, classic literature category, or both!

The classic literary category looks a lot shorter, but I promise you, it will be equally challenging. Especially because they brought back the essay challenge along with the short story for the contemporary 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.

Also, read all the formatting instructions before you submit!


Translation Content: A short contemporary story & essay / short classic story. (All materials can be downloaded from their website.)

Contemporary Literature Category

“Maihōmu” by Idogawa Iko

“Kabuki”, “Shichigatsu no watashi”, “Chichi Serifu sansen” by Kishimoto Sachiko

Classic Literature Category

Haibun by Kobayashi Issa: “Kojiki no shussaniwai”, “Yasezakura”, “Tamori no Okina”

Click here for more details, the source text, and submission application.

Deadline: Must submit application and translation between Saturday, June 1st – Sunday, June 30th, 2024 (JST)

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.)


Twenty-first Annual JAT Contest for New and 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 2024

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

This translation competition is for for J-Net members only. J-Net are the Japanese language specialist network of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), a UK-based professional organisation for interpreters and translators.

It costs £30/year to be a J-Net member.

Join J-Net for more information


Woman writing in notebook with books and coffee on desk. Japanese to English Translation Competitions 2024


Competitions for Completed Translated Works

These competitions are for people who have already translated completed translation works. Some ask for published works, while others ask for non-published (but available for print) works, and some also ask that publishers submit entrees.


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.” The application process is the same for both categories.

Click here for the contest homepage where you can download the guidelines.

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 2022 and afterward).

Application process: Published books and works in press should be submitted by publishers; unpublished manuscripts by translators or their agents.

Deadline: June 3rd 2024

Prize: up to $6,000


John Dryden Translation Competition 2023 – 2024

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.

Click here to see details for entry.

Translation Content: 3000-7000 word unpublished translation of poetry, prose, or drama. (See entry form for formatting details.)

Deadline: 5 February 2024

Prize: First prize: £400; second prize: £250; third prize: £150; 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.


The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation Translation Prize

This is a new competition started in 2023 for translations into English of full-length Japanese works of literary merit and general interest.

However, this is only for works that have already been published, and must have been published in the UK first.

Click here for details.

Prize: The winner is awarded £3,000 and the runner-up is awarded £1,000.

Deadline: 31 March 2024

Restrictions: The translation must have been first published in the UK between 1 April 2023 to 31 March 2024.


Woman drinking coffee at desk. Japanese to English Translation Competitions 2024


Additional Thoughts and Information

With the Manga Translation Battle, Kurodahan Press, and now the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize defunct, there are not many competitions left. (I did also find William F. Sibley Memorial Translation Prize but this was for publishers, not translators, so didn’t include it on the list.)

The Sasakawa Foundation Translation Prize is new but being limited to only published works in the UK, means not a wide variety of translators or works.

The competitions for established literary translators are all well and good, but there are so few literary translators and it feels like the same people win over and over again.

Fingers crossed more associations will see the value in running competitions for non-published translators.


*PSA* If a “prize” for a “competition” is work that’s not a competition but a job application. Painting work as a “competition” in order to trick aspiring translators to apply to your company is shady as all heck.


Useful Articles on Translation

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Translating Japanese for Beginners

Understanding Source Texts – How to Improve Your Translations Skills

Improving Self-Editing – How to Improve Your Translations Skills

Never Assume – The Importance of Research in Translation

How to Make Entertainment Translation Entertaining!


Japanese to English Translation Competitions 2024
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3 months ago

It’s honestly so admirable of you to be making list and posting this information publicly to help new and aspiring translators. Thank you, genuinely.