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Bringing a little levity to life

47 Comments
By J T Cassidy

Up-and-coming Tokyo-based photographer Natsumi Hayashi definitely does not have her feet firmly planted to the ground. Hayashi is literally taking photography to new heights as she captures images of herself levitating all around Tokyo and beyond.

What's even more amazing is that she completes this feat without the aid of any digital wizardry. All she needs is a trusty old camera equipped with a self-timer, a tripod, maybe a friend to lend a hand, and she's ready to take off.

Hayashi says she sometimes has to jump up to 300 times to capture that magical single second where she is floating on air.

When discussing the impact of her work, the twenty-something-year-old has told the press, “We all are surrounded by social stress as we are bound by the force of the Earth’s gravity. So I hope that people feel something like an instant release from stressful, practical days by seeing my levitation photos.”

The pictures on the artist’s website, Yowayowa Camera Woman Diary, have been lifting the spirits of fans around the world for last couple years now.

While nobody knows for certain exactly where the “levitating girl” (as Hayashi is known) will grace the lower atmosphere surrounding Tokyo, the magical moment captured in the camera lens is sure to bring a little more levity to all our lives.

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47 Comments
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I wonder if she is doing anything more current? All the pictures are from nearly a year ago, the latest one being in June of 2011.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wow. I like the idea, and those two images are interesting. But 300 times? That is true persistance!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

"Hayashi says she sometimes has to jump up to 300 times to capture that magical single second where she is floating on air.'

She must be in pretty good physical condition.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

There's also 25 of her photos here:

http://twistedsifter.com/2011/02/natsumi-hayashi-a-life-of-levitation-25-pics/

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Getting old already. Why waste your time shooting three hundred shots when it can be done with one click of a wacom bamboo pen?

-14 ( +2 / -16 )

@Yubaru "All the pictures are from nearly a year ago, the latest one being in June of 2011."

I don't think the dates on her blog are accurate. The latest picture on her blog (which looks like someplace in Europe) was just posted the day before yesterday and there are a few comments asking about the dates but no answers.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Interesting title. And she must be in really good shape to jump like that 300 times.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Weird, I don't understand art :)

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

It's an interesting idea but to be honest in most of these pictures on her website it just looks like she is jumping. Not "levitating." Although the one of her in the train above does look cool.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Maybe she needs a better camera, which can take more than one photo per shot. Then she can reduce the number of unsuccessful jumps substantially, thereby reducing the impact on other travelers, who just want to have an undisturbed ride.

-9 ( +2 / -11 )

@Yubaru & Muffintop.

I've viewed her page from time to time over the past year or so, and there are regular updates, but the dates given on the photos are always about 6-8 months previous. As Muffintop says, they may just be innacurate, but one wonders why.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

"thereby reducing the impact on other travelers, who just want to have an undisturbed ride."

Really, that is what you think about when you read this? Come on. Is there an "undisturbed ride" on any train in Tokyo most of the time?

Spinning drunks, the snoring-falling over sallary man, the legions of people puking on the platform on on the train, the guy reading his porn on the train, the school girl who hasn't bathed in god knows how long, the oba-chan who hits you like a pro restler on her way to the door, the genius who blocks the door in his Ferrari jacket and greasy hair. And of course the legions of "human accident" participates falling or leaping off platforms. And this in addition to all the grey pale tired salary people.

Give me a break. I would rather see an artist trying to bring a little light into the world jumping 10,000 times on a train than deal with any one of the above. And maybe, just maybe one or two of those tired grey faces, mine included, might break into a smile seeing her work on her art.

Lighten up, you live in a city, it isn't supposed to be undisturbed. Those who desire an "undisturbed" life should go live on a mountain in Tibet, because modern human life is anything but "undisturbed."

-1 ( +13 / -14 )

Cool and thx to digitally photography, would be impossible with a 35mm camera.

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

Really, that is what you think about when you read this? Come on. Is there an "undisturbed ride" on any train in Tokyo most of the time?

Personally, I did not think this when I read it, but I began to think it when I saw the website. The photos are both entertaining and amazing, but I cannot help but wonder if the surrounding people at the art gallery, restaurant and other venues might not have been at least slightly perturbed by the jumping necessary to create them. As a viewer, I did enjoy looking at them and marvel at her efforts both physically and technically.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Ben, there are advantages and disadvantages to living in a city. One of the realities is that you cannot fully control the world around you in a city. That is what makes it exciting as well as stressful.

One of the things I dislike about Tokyo is the suppression of nearly everything in public. The same things that give cities like NY, Seattle, Istanbul, and nearly every other city I can think of, color and character are suppressed in Tokyo. Turning the city into a dull grey lifeless procession of tired salary people.

This young artist is trying to bring some color. And at what cost? She isn't jumping on anyone. Isn't stopping their train or endangering anyone. She isn't harming anyone. Just being a little out of place in a city where such behavior is sadly lacking.

I really think that we should not suppress art or creativity in favor of some unrealistic expectation of absolute social order. It only exists in the wishful imaginations of uptight people anyway. Life is unpredictable and cities are filled with the unexpected, most cities anyway.

Again if your entire day is ruined a jumping 40 something kg cute girl with a camera, then it is time to move to that Tibetan mountaintop and dedicate your life to meditation. Otherwise, why not choose to see it as a nice distraction from an otherwise ordinary day?

0 ( +7 / -7 )

so, she's not actually the photographer of these pictures is she...

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

One of the realities is that you cannot fully control the world around you in a city. *

And you can fully control the world around you in inaka?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Maiko. Obviously not. But you can control more of your social interaction in the country than you can in the city. I think that is pretty obvious.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

tkoind2,

I like the photos, as I wrote before. However, I am not convinced that someone jumping 300 times might not at times be annoying to the people around them. That does not mean I am trying to suppress art or creativitly. Perhaps, you need to consider some relaxation techniques yourself?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Why annoying? Most of her shots are outside. The only way you would be annoyed is if you decided to be. Most of us would smile at the activity and move on with our day.

You do have a choice about how you see things. You can choose to be annoyed or you can choose to see it for what it is and do any of the following, ignore it, move on, watch in amusement, smile, encourage her, shake your head in disbelief or any of a very long list of reactions before you have to land on annoyed.

The trouble with people in this town is that they are WAY too uptight. Live, let others live and choose to be positive.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

You used the word "fully" so I just was trying to figure out what you meant.

Do you define the "world around you" to just be equal to "social interactions"? What about "natural phenomena"?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Would even a person on a Tibetan mountain top dedicating their life to meditation be able to fully control the world around them?

Now that's an interesting question.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

@Maitake

After reading the description of her technique in the About section (http://yowayowacamera.com/pineapple1/ ) of her blog it would seem that she's both subject and photographer.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Maiko-san. I think human beings believe we can and should control the world around us. But we cannot. We cannot control others, nature, the world around us. The only thing we have relative control over are our own actions.

This is why I think that an artist like this shoudl be accepted and encouraged. She is doing something creative. Something that is intended, but not necessarily controled. How people react to it is up to them. But I would hope it would cause them to smile or feel good, even if for a moment.

Tokyo needs more of this. We, working people, cannot control our days. We work, we deal with the trains, we deal with all the realities of our daily lives. But once in a while we all notice something. A momentary distraction from our usual passage through the day. Something that can give us something to think about, something to smile about, or just a good topic for chat later on.

I love seeing artists, performers, musicians or just unique people. It is a part of the social fabric that is equally important to order and conformity. Why? Because it shakes up the stream of ordinary days and helps us remember our humanity a little. Tokyo desperately needs more of this.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

The only way you would be annoyed is if you decided to be.

? I think you are overreacting a bit. Perhaps you have decided to be annoyed by my posts?

Again, I like the photos. I also think that it is certainly possible that some of the people around her might have been annoyed or inconvenienced by her attempts to get the right photo. Obviously, this would be less true for photos taken alone/outside. Try not to read too much into things.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

You do have a choice about how you see things. You can choose to be annoyed or you can choose to see it for what it is and do any of the following, ignore it, move on, watch in amusement, smile, encourage her, shake your head in disbelief or any of a very long list of reactions before you have to land on annoyed. The trouble with people in this town is that they are WAY too uptight. Live, let others live and choose to be positive.

So in other words, our choice about how we see things is: we can choose to be annoyed or we can choose to see them exactly the same way that you see them or expect us to see them?

Live and let others live as long as they live as you live? If not, then WE are way too uptight?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

"I also think that it is certainly possible that some of the people around her might have been annoyed or inconvenienced by her attempts to get the right photo."

Why? I think you can equally say that people are annoyed by things like perfume, music, that fishy smell some salary guys use for breath, big itchy hair.......

My point is that you and everyone else exposed to this artist live in the city. If you let every little thing annoy you, then how do you get on with things. It is really inconvinent for this girl to jump up and down somewhere? Any more so than someone talking on a cell phone or standing in the middle of a pathway?

Just cope and get on with your day. Why become annoyed?

Maiko "So in other words, our choice about how we see things is: we can choose to be annoyed or we can choose to see them exactly the same way that you see them or expect us to see them?"

I am not imposing my will on anyone. Just challenging others who would suppress an artist like this because they are "annoyed". Why not let the girl do her thing? Is she really harming anyone at all? Show me how that is so taihen.

"Live and let others live as long as they live as you live? If not, then WE are way too uptight?"

Let me set it straight for you as you are cleary misunderstanding.

Live and let others live as they live. Period. Not as I live. Not as you live. Not as this artist lives. Just let people live. Endure the small inconviniences that go wtih living in a city. Is that so hard to do? Or would you really rather be stressed out and uptight about every little thing all the time.

And if you are looking for things to be uptight and annoyed by, choose something that is truly harmful. Why waste your energy being annoyed by an artist just trying to create?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Maiko, if you want some things to be annoyed by. How about: Poverty 17% of people in Japan live in poverty. 40% percent of working women don't make enough to be secure. Old people die and no one realizes for weeks. 30,000 people kill themselves every year.

There are so many things that are annoying and inconvenient to the entirety of society that we ignore. Why not put that attention to those issues instead of being stressed by an artist who isn't causing any real harm to anyone.

That is my point. Why choose to be stressed by this?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Just asking questions.

You say: Live and let others live as they live. Period. Not as I live. Not as you live. Not as this artist lives. Just let people live.

OK. So if somebody gets annoyed by something like this then why not just let them live. Why get annoyed over somebody get annoyed? Why question why somebody chooses to be stressed by this? Just let them be stressed and go on living your own life. Why not let them go on doing their own thing? Why challenge them? By challenging them aren't you sort of saying that they should live their life more like you or as you deem appropriate? If you let every little thing (like somebody posting on a site like this) annoy you then how do you get on with things. Why not just cope with what electric2004 posted and get on with your day? Why get annoyed?

Is that what your trying to say?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

tkoind2, if you want some things to be annoyed by. How about: Poverty 17% of people in Japan live in poverty. 40% percent of working women don't make enough to be secure. Old people die and no one realizes for weeks. 30,000 people kill themselves every year.

There are so many things that are annoying and inconvenient to the entirety of society that we ignore. Why not put that attention to those issues instead of being stressed by what somebody post on a site like this who isn't causing any real harm to anyone.

That is my point. Why choose to be stressed by this?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Readers, please stay on topic and stop going around in circles.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ok, so she has established herself as a photographer. Where does she go from here? More jump shots?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maybe she can do a more difficult pose, like levitating while in a classic yoga lotus position. The one that Dhalsim from Street Fighter does after winning. That would be cool.

@paulinusa

Thanks for the link. Through that site I found another link that was more interesting.

http://twistedsifter.com/2011/02/recreating-childhood-photos-irina-werning/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I like it man! I appreciate art and life.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Interesting shots...and it doesn't hurt that she's really easy on the eyes!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

She jumps up to 300 times for a shot? She has legs of steel!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I remember looking at her photos a year ago or so. I think they are an interesting concept.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tkond2:

Sorry to make you feel annoyed by my post. My point was not so much that persons might be annoyed (I was not explicitly including me), but that she uses equipment, which is not optimized for the task.

In other words, she is working so hard, and has to try so many times, because her camera is not up to the task.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@genjuro

"Maybe she can do a more difficult pose, like levitating while in a classic yoga lotus position."

She did! It's on her website. It's dated or numbered 09.22.2010 (http://yowayowacamera.com/banana/20100922091915.html)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I like the idea of suspention or being detached from a foothold in the uber-urban environment of Tokyo. A sort of suggestion of disconnect, or even levitating out of the the oppressive environment that urban cities are. It's a sort of suggestion of transcendence or spiritual desire to free the bonds of spirit. It's innovative and original work that she has persisted with, so as a body of work it starts to gether a bit of momentum. I like it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

lol i bet it would look kinda odd and funny seeing someone randomly jumping up and down on a train 300 times : )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe she can do a more difficult pose, like levitating while in a classic yoga lotus position.

Didn't Asahara Shoko do that?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Was cool and intriguing two years ago but now... ahhh...(stretch) ...yawn.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

She jumping for fun, creativity, uniqueness, and to earn a living. Too many here are jumping to pouty conclusions. ;-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cool and thx to digitally photography, would be impossible with a 35mm camera.

Not impossible. But much, much more expensive.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Actually they showed this kind of experiments this week with more professional cameras in the children morning program on NHK.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Natsumi is a breath of fresh air!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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