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    We are travelers

    HAYASHI

    MacabucaIt sometimes happens - you find something magical. And that was what happened to me during an exhibition I visited recently. It was an exhibition of photographs by Natsumi Hayashi, the intrepid Japanese woman who photographs herself while levitating.

    Taking a photo of someone at the exact moment when they jump and maintain their entire body in the air is relatively simple. You just need patience, good physical form and a camera adjusted with a high shutter speed to achieve a «frozen» effect. But from that to what Natsumi does, there is a big difference. This young Japanese woman is capable of photographing herself levitating in the air and in all kinds of situations. Flying while she leaves the train, makes a phone call or hoovers the house. Her self-portraits are real, unsettling and special.

    Enjoying these photographs took me back to one of the most sacred journeys I have ever embarked on: my visit to the mountain of eternal meditation, Mount Koya, where there are one hundred and seven temples that are still standing and there is a magnificent forest of cedar, cypress and centenarian pine trees.

    Japanese Buddhists compare it to a Lotus flower with its eight petals, because of the eight peaks that surround the wooded valley it is located in. Koyasan, one of its temples, is a kind of Vatican that is visited by a million people every year.
    My fortune was such that my visit to Koyasan coincided with the big festival that is held twice a year and during which devotees, with their eyes blindfolded, randomly throw flowers on one of the mandalas. The Buddha on which they fall will become their spiritual guide and reference. The impressive red mass of the great pagoda, 50 metres high, reproduces its original shape down to the last millimetre; but I was astonished to find that the slender columns are no longer made of enamelled cedar, but of red-painted concrete. It maintains the appearance, but not the essence…

    The essence, that is precisely what Natsumi Hayashi brought to my mind. During my visit to that immense forest I had the chance to enjoy an extraordinary view, an enormous cemetery full of graves with images decorated with bibs or other types of clothing. The trees radiated a breathtaking energy.

    And faced with that magnificence the realisation clearly dawned on me that today, when we brag so much about our material possessions, it is time, more than ever, to remember that what really is important, what is sacred, is within us. The animals, the vegetation, the water and even the stones. A legacy of the first days, a promise of an intangible future. That is what the forests, the Hayashis, are. And thus my spirit rose like that young woman in the photographs, and I understood: looking after them means looking after ourselves.