Thursday, October 20, 2011

Natsumi Hayashi: The Girl Who Leapt Through Tokyo


Fifty years since Philippe Halsman's Jumpology, one might ask "What is the present state of the photographic jump shot?" Across the Atlantic from where Halsman made his jump photograph, the Levitating Girl shows that the next stage isn't just jumping, but floating in mid-air. Natsumi Hayashi, the girl who leapt through Tokyo, shows the rest of the world how jump shots are supposed to be done.


You may have already seen a few photos floating around the interwebs of this now famous Japanese girl enchantingly floating in mid-air. Natsumi Hayashi works as an assistant to artist and photographer Hisaji Hara, so it's not hard to see the creatively constructed scenes of herself mysteriously frozen in space and time.

Hayashi began her attempts at capturing her jumping attempts on camera towards the end of 2010, shooting a different scene every week or so. After a dozen or so attempts, she managed to create her own style which really started to soar in the beginning of this year.


Hayashi's fantastic photographs don't come about by chance; in order to get the right shot, she either has the assistance of a friend to photograph her, or more often than not, she uses a tripod, a DSLR camera with a 10-second timer, and a lot of patience and skill.


Even with the right equipment and skill however, the photographer still has to depend on a fair amount of luck in order to get the right shot. After she's found the right spot to pose for her photograph, Hayashi starts to jump. And jump. And jump again. Sometimes it might take up to 300 jumps in order to get one of these perfectly posed images.

It's not just getting the right pose that's important; the people around her also have to work with her, sometimes unknowingly, sometimes with a hint that they somehow understand what's going on. She recounts one occasion where here incessant jumping alarmed some people nearby. So she stopped jumping and told them, 'I am taking jumping photos to make a slide show for my wedding party.' Then they blushed and told me, 'Oh sorry!' 'Congratulations!' 'Good luck jumping!'"


The magic of her jump shots is that they don't appear to be jump photographs at all; Hayashi looks like she's either flying in place or levitating effortlessly towards her destination, hence her nickname, "Tokyo's Levitating Girl". In some scenes, she appears to be leaping with great speed through the streets, or up towards a flight of stairs.

Hayashi also takes great care in changing the scenery every once in a while. Thus, today might find her leaping through the doors of the busy Tokyo Metro trains, tomorrow might see her flying through the quiet woods just outside the city. Her "Today's Levitation" series as it's called is as much a self-portrait of the photographer as much as it is of Tokyo itself.


To top it all off, Hayashi shows almost no emotion in her photographs, floating nonchalant about her surroundings and detached from the people around her. Yet, there's a certain joviality in her photographs, even if she doesn't show it. Just as the previous post showed that even the tiniest hop can elicit a smile out of the grumpiest face, Hayashi's own joy pervades out of her levitating photographs.


Natsumi Hayashi, the magnificent levitating girl who leapt through Tokyo, has a blog here. You'll find more of her jumping skills put to enthralling use there, although it doesn't appear to have been updated in awhile. For a look at how people used to make jump shots some 50 years ago, look over here.

20 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

She's weird but talented and the pics are very good.

DWei said...

I've seen her before. Does she edit out her shadow because I can't see it anywhere in any of the photos.

R.gers said...

I've seen her work and it looks amazing. In a country where being humble seems to be paramount, she must get a lot of weird looks.

Toto said...

whoa! thats very beautiful!

follow me for extreme randomnism!
http://all-around-toto.blogspot.com/

D4 said...

Well, I actually haven't seen any of her. So this was like a present. Thank you! It brought a smile to my face.

Ray Rousell said...

A great set of photos, I like the one at the traffic light the little girl watching the girl jump!

Shutterbug said...

ooh... I love these photos! They are so fun and there's something so whimsical about them! :D

Bonjour Tristesse said...

The first one would be so much better with an oncoming train.

Interwebs Fails said...

Interesting concept.

Phil S. said...

I have seen some of these before (never this many in one spot, kudos) and I always wondered: How does she make her hair seem like it isn't in motion in some of those photos?
Good luck jumping!

Fred Rickerson said...

The one with the phone is the best!

Orang3 said...

the one with the girl on her knees had to be complicated to do

r.alsharif said...

These are all so cool! She looks like she's floating :p

Reilly said...

wwwhhhhaaaatttt. That's just mad

Tony Storm said...

that is extremelly impresive, the one where she seems to be advancing (wearing a cap) is the one i found the most difficult to acomplish, it looks sick

My 2 Pesos said...

That girl is crazy! (:

i_love_weed said...

these are so cool, it like she floating :D

ironchefman said...

Ha, I saw this featured in a DigitalRev spot where they tried to recreate the effect. Not surprisingly, it's harder than it seems!

SkyWalker said...

Very creative pictures. Nice, clear, crisp shots. Love the work.

Andrew said...

There was an anime movie from Japan called "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" and I watched about half of it and have never gotten around to finishing it. It's kind of a special movie. Much like these photographs. I am impressed by these, honestly. Highly creative and they somehow manage to capture Asia in a way that reminds me of my second home. Oh, Asia, how I miss thee.

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