2020 stole so much from us. The regular hanami parties, the fireworks festivals on hot, humid summer nights, traveling, end-of-year parties and regular outings with our dearest and nearest. It also stole many opportunities to unleash our talents and share them with others. Like many others, the Tokyo Weekender team felt stuck in creativity on many occasions. But we still wanted to add a bit of positivity in these challenging times and find a way to celebrate the amazing talent you share with us in so many ways.

Which is why we launched our first Autumn Photo Contest. The response we received from you was overwhelming — the creativity in all those images, the warmth they conveyed and the many ways you found to enjoy yourselves while still maintaining social distance was evident from all the works that were submitted for the contest. Thank you to everyone who participated — we are nothing but grateful to be the platform you chose to share your talent with.

With nearly 300 submissions on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, you have made our task of choosing the top 10 images extremely difficult. But after discussing (and voting a couple of times) we have narrowed down the list to the following images.

So here they are, our favorite 10 #TWAutumn2020 photos! The photographer behind our top 1 winning image will receive a small prize delivered to their door plus a free 3-month subscription to the Tokyo Weekender magazine starting from this month. If you haven’t made the top 10 list this time, please come back next year. There’ll be more of these!

10. The Deer in Nara


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A post shared by Zissou Master Frogman (@oki_explorer)

With tourism decline, there were news reports that the famous deer in Nara were malnourished as there were fewer people to feed them with senbei. But this deer looks rather happy to be left alone to enjoy the beautiful autumn scenery around her. Photo by @oki_explorer who has more than one or two deer photos in the feed.

9. A Peaceful Moment at Rikugien Gardens


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A post shared by Nelson Okaneku (@nelson_okaneku)

We had to use Google translate and then consult our own multilingual editorial assistant Lisandra to get the caption, which reads “training, training and more training; studying, studying and more studying.” Not sure what was happening here but if every workout and study session ends so beautifully, we’re sold. Photo by @nelson_okaneku taken at Rikugien Gardens in Tokyo. 

8. Where New Things Bloom

We fell in love with the composition of this image but also its caption: “As I watch the seasons change, these leaves remind me of how beautiful it is to let things go, so new things can bloom.” Photo by @thewanderingcam at Hibarigaoka Park, Tokyo.

7. A Room With a View

What would you give to have a room with a view like this? Photo by @_stephaniemelanie_ at Itamuro Onsen, Tochigi.

6. The Beauty of Autumn


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A post shared by Zissou Master Frogman (@oki_explorer)

The combination of autumn leaves and this beautiful kimono is close to perfection. Photo by @oki_explorer in Kyoto.

5. The Peaceful Jizo


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A post shared by Nancy Pham (@nancyqpham)

The caption read: “Enkoji Temple has it all; a zen garden, a moss-covered garden complete with beautiful maple trees and a pond, a small bamboo forest, Buddhist artwork, and views over Kyoto.” Untroubled by the chaos that 2020 was, this tiny Jizo looks happy, peaceful, and more than anything else — pretty in green and autumn colors. Photo by nancyqpham at Enkoji Temple in Kyoto.

4. Autumn Mirror


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A post shared by Zoria’sTokyo+ (@zoria_in_tokyo)

A shot by one of our own special contributors Zoria, this stunning autumn sight was captured in Kichijoji, a favorite Tokyo neighborhood that Zoria loves and often writes about. Photo by @zoria_in_tokyo in Kichijoji, Tokyo.

3. The Bridge That’s Worth the Long Way


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A post shared by Estelle Stella (@estellepizer)

Taken near Okuoikojo Station in Kawane, Shizuoka Prefecture, the photographer who took this breathtaking photo writes in her caption that it took her some time and effort to get to this destination, but it was all worth it. We agree! Photo by @estellepizer in Shizuoka Prefecture.

2. An Autumn Castle

Caption: “Matsuyama castle framed with autumn leaves. I would say it is one of my favorite shots of that day.” Ours too! Photo by @yoko_lost_in_japan in Ehime Prefecture.

1. The Perfect Tranquility


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A post shared by Estelle Stella (@estellepizer)

Everything about this photo speaks autumn peace to us. A moment when one can sit back, relax and take a moment to enjoy the beauty around; a moment of ultimate emotional peace and comfort that many of us so truly need this year. Our top winning photo is by @estellepizer and was taken at Meigetsuin in Kita-Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan.

Congratulations to all winning photos and thank you all again for being part of this beauty! We hope that in 2021 the world would be a better and safer place and that we can all celebrate our talents more loudly and more boldly. Stay safe and keep being creative. There’s no limit to that!