Drumroll Please! And the winners of the 2010 Winter Photo Contest are…

The judges have voted and the results of the Wide Island View’s 2010 Winter Photo Contest are in. Here are the winners! (Click the photos to enlarge.)

First Place:

“Ogaki Setsubun Hadaka Matsuri” By Stefan Mueller, from Osaka.

This photo was taken in Ogaki, about 30 kilometers west of Nagoya. Most of the famous hadaka matsuris happen during winter, when males try to cultivate a strong image by running around half naked for hours in freezing temperatures and snow.

Second Place:

“Reflections” By Gregory Chan, JET from Shika Town, Ishikawa-ken.

This photo was taken in Shirakawago in February. It is a traditional Gassho farmhouse in the winter. The houses have steep roofs to withstand the area’s heavy snowfalls.

Third Place:

“Rotenburo” By Kate Saling, JET from Otoineppu-mura (the smallest town in Hokkaido).

I took this photo early one morning while driving along Lake Kussharo in Hokkaido. The winter view from the rotenburo was gorgeous, but I also thought that the gender division of such a quaint pool was amusing — ladies to the left and gentlemen to the right. What would be the point if you just meet up behind that rock? It’s not just the onsens that keep you warm in the winter.

Honorable Mention:

“Snowy Shrine” By Ross Cole-Hunter, 2nd year Australian JET from Yakumo-cho, Hokkaido.

This is a small shrine in my town, Kuroiwa Jinja. I’ve often seen this shrine as I was driving past, but I’d never taken the time to stop for a photo. During winter, the only access to this shrine is by a 500-meter snowshoe along the coast line. Luckily, the weather was amazingly fine on this day. It’s pretty rare to have blue skies in Hokkaido during winter — well, at least in the Southwest. I have to admit though, the temptation to get photos of a friend jibbing this rail with a snowboard was pretty strong. I wonder if there is a special place in hell reserved for people who jib shrines. I definitely think it would have made for a better photo though.

Congratulations to the winners! Your photos were fantastic. Really, we were impressed. The judges are most certainly jealous of your photography skills. And thank you to everyone who entered. We enjoyed seeing all your photos of beautiful Japan.

Winners will get to choose one of three prizes provided by Flutterscape.com: a Mazinger Z action figure, a set of Dragonball Z toys, or a summer yukata. Many thanks to Flutterscape for sponsoring this contest.

Photos were rated and winners selected by our five judges, Wide Island View editors Gail Meadows and Joshua Zimmerman, and Hiroshima-ken ALTs Courtney Coppernoll, Stephen Packer and Natalie Oram. (So if your photo didn’t win, please don’t come egg Gail’s house. But if you can find Josh’s house now, well, be our guest.)

Click here to see a photo gallery of all 33 entries.

Didn’t win a prize this time? Don’t despair. We’re now running the 2010 Spring Photo Contest, sponsored by White Rabbit Press. Winners of that one will be able to select either a kanji poster or beginner or intermediate kanji flashcards — super stuff, especially for those studying for the Japanese Language Proficiency Test (JLPT).

So get out there and capture all of Japan’s beauty on film (er… memory card). You keep shooting, and we’ll keep giving away cool prizes!

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