Friday, April 20, 2012

Hoppin' Mad in Japan Today

Japan Today screen shot
A Temple Valley Times reporter recently had an article about up-and-coming Tokyo based photographer, Natsumi Hayashi, posted on the Japan Today Internet news portal. The site is well known for its active (read: bullying) community  of readers and their often stinging comments (I penned an op-ed for the site a year ago and got virtually grilled alive in the comment section). The article spotlights Hayashi's work, which is literally taking photography to new heights as she captures images of herself levitating all around Tokyo and beyond.

The photographer, who uses nothing but a trusty old camera with a self-timer and a tripod, says she sometimes has to jump up to 300 times to capture that magical single second where she is floating on air. It was that simple statement that got Japan Today readers hopping mad. Half were super stressed out just thinking about all that jumping up and down. 

Accompanying the article is a photo taken inside a rail car and some readers seemed to really empathize with the other riders on the train who they assumed must have been a little perturbed by all that vertical movement by the young woman in their midst. They start off simply wondering about all the jumping, marveling at her terrific physical stamina, etc. Then they begin questioning if it is appropriate behavior for a public place. I could see the novelty wearing off after jump number 99 or so. Finally they end up practically condemning the photo shoots as an act of terrorism. While it all seems to be light-hearted fun, I guess the  lightness of this being was just too unbearable for some. 

Now the other half of the readers were equally (maybe doubly) stressed out by all the anti-jumping comments, accusing the participants in the online debate of being everything from anti-feminists to book-burning fascists hell-bent on stamping out everything that's beautiful in the world.

Many of the comments are replies that begin with something to the tune of "relax man," or "why the hell are you so stressed out," and "I'll tell you why I'm so stressed out..." and so on. The irony of it all is that in describing the meaning of her work, the twenty-something-year-old artist is quoted as saying, “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 brief article's author as well only wanted to share that uplifting experience with the Japan Today community. Who knew it would turn out be such a downer?

See: Bringing a Little Levity to Life (at - and bring an extra "of" and "the" with you if you go there, you may need them)

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