Japan Underwater Photo Contest 2020 Winners

From October to Novem­ber of 2020, the Japan National Tourism Organ­ization (JNTO) held its second annual Japan Underwater Photo Contest, seeking photos taken by divers that showcase the undiscovered beauty and artistry of diving in Japan to the world.

Gold Medal winner: "Survival," a photo capturing a butterflyfish feeding on spawning corals in Yakushima, Kagoshima
Gold Medal winner: "Survival," a photo capturing a butterflyfish feeding on spawning corals in Yakushima, Kagoshima

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From photos of species endemic to Japan to the unique views and one-of-a-kind colors found in Japanese waters, the photo contest received 765 submissions from 200 participants, ranging from hobbyists to professional photographers. Winners were carefully selected by judges Hideki Abe and Kazushige Horiguchi, both professional underwater photographers based in Japan, recognized worldwide for their incredible works.

The Gold Medal went to the photo entitled Survival, which captures a butterflyfish feeding on spawning corals, taken in Yakushima, Kagoshima Prefecture. The Silver Medal was given to Floating, a photograph capturing a majestic view of the moon jellyfish in Otomi, Fukui Prefecture. The Bronze Medal was awarded to Daddy Giving Birth, capturing the moment a seahorse gave birth to its young. (Please visit the JNTO photo contest website to see the photographers’ names:

Japan’s sea life

Japan is home to many aquatic species, thanks to the range of water temperatures in its islands created by the combination of a cold subarctic ocean current and the warm current that flows from the south. The colliding currents and unique underwater terrain create an ideal environment for a wide array of marine life to thrive in its waters. The oceans of Japan are home to creatures that you cannot find in any other place in the world.

JNTO hopes that this showcase of the wonders of Japan’s depths, viewable at will inspire viewers to someday come to see them up close and perhaps even to try their own hand at capturing them on camera. ■

Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) has launched a site called Japan Diving to welcome divers from all over the world. You can choose from a menu of over 170 dive locations in Japan. For further information about diving in Japan via JNTO, visit: