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Asia's first photo competition celebrating hair braiding and the art of black hair


Welcome to the Hair Braiding Art Photo Competition (HBA Photo Comp)2022, where we celebrate the richness of black hair and the cultures of hair braiding. HBA Photo Comp was started in 2021 to help establish hair braiding styles as sophisticated, beautiful, and culturally meaningful art in Japan and Beyond. 

Asia's First Photo Competition celebrating

the Art and culture


black hair and braiding

Proudly ​organized and presented by Hair Braiding Association Japan (HBA Japan). We are the only association in Asia focusing on the advancement and promotion of black hair and providing an education of inclusive beauty technics and knowledge. At HBA, we study Africa and African Diaspora cultures through beauty and beyond. We make our findings and knowledge available in Japan and other Asian countries in local languages. 

We are happy and excited to announce our first-ever hair braiding competition celebrating the 6000-year-old culture and art of black hair specialized technics; hair braiding.

The competition is open to anyone living in Asia. ​


Why Japan? 

You may be wondering.


Japanese people wearing braids may come across as cultural appropriation from the outside looking in. Last year, we received the concern that seeing Japanese people in Braids made them uncomfortable. We completely understand the sentiment, and with the complexity of the history of black hair, it may be difficult to resonate with what we are trying to do. We do not want to have our message get lost in translation. 


The truth is that hair braiding has been popular among the underground scene in Japan and other Asian countries for many years. While many that wear their hair in braids do it because it looks cool or wants to try because their favorite rapper has a similar style, the truth is even if they wanted to learn more about the history of black hair and hair braiding, the correct information available in Japanese is limited.


Moreover, there is still a stigma attached to braids in a homogeneous conservative country like Japan. In fact, Japan is one of the least ethnically diverse countries where more than 99% of the people look the same. To a majority of people, braids are seen as “not clean,” “delinquents,” “unprofessional.” Stereotypes like these are incredibly harmful to raising black expats and black-mixed populations. We feel the immediate need to create more inclusive and diverse beauty spaces in Japan and Beyond. 


Hair Braiding Art Photo Competition was born to challenge these stereotypes while encouraging people to be more interested in the artistic and cultural aspects of hair braiding. We believe in making a real impactful change - and we believe that this photo competition is a step in the right direction! 


We have made some changes to rules and categories based on suggestions and concerns we have received last year. 

For our first try at a photo competition last year in 2021, we invited everyone to participate in the competition to reach more people with our message. However, as we have received the concern for cultural appropriation, we have decided to make some changes so that everyone, both participating and those watching, can all have a great time! 


This year, we have created two categories: 

Our beauty Pro category is exclusive to stylists and braiders residing in Japan. They will need to have Black or black mixed models qualify to enter this category. This way, we can give clarity to our message. At the same time, we can allow Japanese beauty professionals to get comfortable with taking care of textured hair and learn more about the culture of black hair. There are two predetermined themes that they will need to pick and create a style accordingly. 


Another category is open to any and everyone (Open Division). There are no limitations to whom they can have for models, and you can create your theme using your creativity. You can be from and live anywhere in the world to enter into this category. Including everyone in this conversation is crucial to propelling a diverse society. 


You can submit as many works as you want! 

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Micro Braids
Smiling Model
Golden Satin Blouse


500 JPY

We also offer fee waivers for those that request. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us if you are interested.

WHO CAN PARTICIPATE: ANYONE around the world with a passion for black hair and braiding

THEME: Create Your Own Theme

MODEL: ANYONE above 16 years old

THEME: Create Your Own Theme

STYLE: ANY STYLE using branding technics including original wig and crochet with pictures of before and braided base.

PHOTOGRAPHY: Preferably professionally taken.

All Videos

All Videos


We invite talented global artists as the judge. A collection of outstanding judges will be announced SOON!

Are you interested in participating as the judge? 
We are looking for talented artists to join as judges. You must have more than 5 years of experience in the industry and have extensive knowledge in hair braiding, black hair, and beauty to qualify as the judge.  This will be a great way to contribute your knowledge and educate the Japanese public as well as a great addition to your credientials. If interested, please email us at

​1st PLACE 50000 JPY

・Crystal Trophy

​・Feature on Salon(Stylist) Directory

・Feature on HBA Digital look book Fall 2021

・HBA Magazine Featured Interview

・HBA Beauty Academy 10% Off 

・Lifelong free membership to HBA​

​・Next photo competition  entrance fee waiver

​Runner up 20000 JPY

・Crystal Trophy

​・Feature on Salon(Stylist) Directory

・Feature on Digital Magazine "TONEZ" 

・HBA Magazine Featured Interview

・HBA Beauty Academy 10% Off 

・Lifelong free membership to HBA​

​・Next photo competition  entrance fee waiver

Special Prizes 

3 to 5 people will be selected from each category


・Feature on Salon(Stylist) Directory

​・Goods and Gifts

・HBA Beauty Academy 10% Off 

・Lifelong free membership to HBA​

​・Next photo competition  entrance fee waiver


The Road to Submission: Step by Step Guide

Step 1. Pick the theme

Step 2. Use your imagination to create

Step 3. Pick a model and a photographer and photoshoot

Step 4. Follow our IG account

Step 5. Pick your best photo and submit it from our entry page on the website (2MG~6MG)

Step 6. Please wait for our confirmation email with the link to pay the submission fee

Step 7. Complete the payment via the HBA Store

Step 8. Submission  is successfully Completed! 


☆Entry Period☆

January 15th, 2022 to February 21st, 2023 23:59 JST

☆Entry Qualifications☆

・To qualify to enter the Beauty Pro division, you must be a beauty professional (barber, hairstylist, makeup artist) or a current cosmetology student residing in Japan. 

・To qualify to enter the Open division, you can be from and residing anywhere around the world. You just need a passion for hair braiding. 

・You are following our Instagram @hbaphotocomp

☆How to Enter☆

・Pick a theme according to your entry category

・Create a style using hair braiding techniques

・Shoot your work with a model (please check the model regulation for your chosen category) 

・Choose the best photo and edit 

・Fill in the entry form and attach the photograph 

・Wait for the confirmation e-mail and instruction for the entry fee payment 

​・Complete the payment via HBA Store on the website

・Wait for the result to be announced!

☆Submission Rules☆

・For the Beauty Pro Category, all styles must be created on black/black mixed model using use black hair specialized braiding techniques such as braids, cornrows, twists, crochet, locs, etc. more than half of your model's head.


・For the Open Category,  you are also allowed to create a style using the technics such as crochet, original wig, and sew-ins. However, you will need to attach a model's before photo with a braided base and all the ingredients used to create a wig or crochet ( 3 pictures in total - 1. Side picture of the braided bases, 2. Back picture of the braided bases, 3. a picture of tools and ingredients used). 

・We do not accept styles that solely style curly hair as is, such as wash and go and high ponytail.

・It is preferable to use hair extensions, but it is not required.

・Must create a style on the model and not a doll.

・To qualify for the Beauty Category, you must follow one of the themes. ( Soil or Rhythm)

・Model needs to be over 16 (all models under 18 need a gardens consent form) and sign a release form.

・The submission photo can be in color or black and white. Must be high resolution (2MB to 6MB) and clearly show your style in detail.

​​・Must be a completely new and original style that has never been shown on SNS or any other competitions.

​・Cannot submit the same style twice.

・You can enter the competition as many times as you like as long as you submit the different original styles.

・You can change or edit the skin's saturation and texture but cannot overly alter the picture. 

・The picture needs to show the whole face and the head of the model.

​​・The copyright of the entered work remains with the creator. However, you agree to let us use your work to promote our website, social media, poster, etc.

☆Submission Fee☆

1000 JPY Per Submission

500 JPY Per Submission for U20 

We also offer a submission fee waiver for those that request it.

☆Judging Criteria☆


 ・Expression of your inspiration


 ・The total styling(Hair・Makeup・Clothing etc)etc.

     **  The quality of your photo will also be a significant part of the judging process. We suggest that you work with a professional photographer.

     **  We will be judging based on the total balance of hair, makeup, fashion, and creation. Your message and meaning behind the work will also be an important aspect of the judging process.

☆Result Announcement☆

 ・We will be revealing the finalists on SEPTEMBER 23rd, 2022 at 18 PM on our @hbaphotocomp Instagram feed.

 ・Winners will be selected and announced a week later on SEPTEMBER 30th,  2022 at 18 PM JST on our @hbaphotocomp Instagram feed.