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Electric Japan: Mayumi Hirata

London based photographer, Mayumi Hirata shares her latest series Jump!, defying the depression of lockdown by inviting her subjects to literally jump for joy.

 

JUMP!

Watch an introduction to Jump! from Mayumi Hirata

Jump! is Mayumi Hirata’s photographic project celebrating Japanese artists and others living far from the land of the rising sun. Artists and performers, designers, chefs and even monks are each captured jumping against a backdrop of identifiably classical European settings. Each image seeks to present “free spirits and movement” as well as “challenges in unfamiliar settings”, all with a small dash of humour.

When asked to “jump”, the dynamic between photographer and subject changes, tension dissipates and the shoot becomes more relaxed, with a positive effect on the outcome.

In contemporary Japan, the control of rules and laws, a lengthy recession, and the internet providing an increased ability to view the world from the comfort of home have contributed to a tendency for Japanese to think there is “no point in having dreams”. Less are attempting to travel abroad to live their dream. Being open to the other and not closed in behind borders is vital to Mayumi Hirata.

After the 215 year closed period of the Edo era (1639-1853), the Samurai cut off their symbolic pony tails and Japan rapidly absorbed the Western way of living and culture albeit in its own special way. Brexit and other factors may well make it more difficult for international artists to come to Britain, but Mayumi hopes Britain won’t slam the door shut to foreigners. She is keen to encourage Japanese to challenge themselves and do something outrageous, creative and beautiful outside their homeland – if they do, she is convinced the effect will be liberating.

 

“JUMP”

Photographs of…

Kei Akahoshi, Ballet dancer, Blackfriars UK
Hiroshi Miyamoto, Actor, Leadenhall Market UK
Yuta Sugimoto, Patissier, Galerie Vivienne PARIS
Nori Kajio, Taiko drummer, Clignancourt PARIS
Kisayo Boccara, Hat designer, Bois de Vincennes Paris
Masayuki Sakamoto, Taiko Drummer, Seven Sisters UK
Ryu Kobayashi, Onidaiko performer, Tower Eiffel PARIS
Misa Koide, Dancer, Rivington Street UK
Hideaki and Masahiro, fashion designer at Tokkou, Portobello Road UK
Yosuke, Taiko drummer/performer, St Peter’s Square UK
BONINGEN, Noise alternative rock band, Munster Castle Lake District UK
Motoko Hida, Bread Maker, Notting Hill Gate UK
Tsubasa Hori, Multi talented musician, St Anna’s Tunnel, ANTWERP
Ryozen Tateba, Monk at Koyasan Temple, St Helen’s Place UK
Yoshitaka Suzuki, UK Jazz dancer, Smithfield Market UK

Slideshow music by Joji Hirota and London Taiko Drummers

Additional Information

Born in Osaka, Japan, Mayumi Hirata is now based in London, from where she undertakes studio portrait and project-based work, as well as taking documentary commissions.

Mayumi studied fashion at Kansai Women’s Art College, Osaka Japan, where she self-taught photography.  Her early works include documenting the Osaka underground punk scene and record sleeves for Alchemy Records.

Mayumi moved to London in 1989 to explore the roots of the original punks in London, whilst working at publishing companies and freelance as a writer/editor for magazines such as Japanese ELLE, Figaro Japon and the “Globe Trotter Guide Books – Chikyu No Arukikata”.

Mayumi then decided to further her study into the theory of photography, graduating from the University of Westminster in 2011.  She now focuses on portraits and photographing musicians and other performers, as well as specialising in kimono photoshoots.

After the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, her interests reverted back to their origins, Japanese traditional music and art. Through documenting tsunami survivors performing their traditional tiger dance, she met tattoo artist Horiren who was also helping the tsunami survivors by re-creating their floats and paintings.

Mayumi is also a Japanese taiko drummer, performing as a member of Thames Taiko, as well as leading her own punk-taiko unit, Fugu.  She has played at venues ranging from Trafalgar Square and the O2 to Café Oto and the Victoria and Albert Museum.