Difference between Akutagawa Prize and Naoki Prize


The Akutagawa Prize, short for Akutagawa Ryunosuke Prize, together with Naoki Prize, short for Naoki Sanjugo Prize, are the best-known ones among major Japanese literary prizes. Many of us are not aware the difference between two of them. Both prizes were founded by Kan Kikuchi, who was the founder of Bungei Shunju(文芸春秋) magazine, in the same year of 1935. Both of them named after the most prominent writer in Japanese literature history. Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927) was one of Japan’s leading pure literature writers. Naoki Sanjuugo (1891-1934) was a Japanese novelist, screenwriter, and film director. He specializes in popular fiction.


The difference between the two awards:

The latest 167th award was announced on July 20th, 2022. Naoki Prize was awarded to Sumi Kubomi and Akutagawa Prize was awarded to Jyunko Takase. For the first time in its long history, the Akutagawa Award nominees were all women this time. By the way, all six nominees for the Naoki Prize were women in 2019.


Some interesting facts:

  • Awarded for her debut novel in 2004 Akutagawa Prize (Hitomi Kanehara)
  • Youngest prize winner in 2004 Akutagawa Prize, the writer was 19 years old. (Risa Wataya)
  • First Naoki Prize winner born in the Heisei era in 2013 (Ryo Asai)
  • Oldest prize winner in 2013 Akutagawa Prize, the writer was 75 years old. (Natsuko Kuroda)
  • A famous comedian won 2015 Akutagawa Prize. (Naoki Matayoshi)
  • Foreign born prize winner in 2021 Akutagawa Prize (Kotomi Lee)
  • No writer has won both awards, although some works have been nominated for both.