Magic Rain in a Place of Memories | GO Journal ISSUE 04 Behind-the-Scenes Report
It’s September 2019. A chilly, rainy day in stark contrast to the unbearably hot days leading up to it.
An athlete appears at the site of the photo shoot in Odaiba, Tokyo, carrying a large bag.
It’s Yukako Hata of triathlon. She’ll be on the cover of GO Journal ISSUE 04, a graphic magazine that aims to drive parasports into the future.
Hata says that she’s read all of the GO Journal issues that have been published so far. There were a lot of parts that she agreed with as a fellow athlete, she says, telling us, “The words of each athlete really came through to me.” She tells us in a hushed tone that she’s a big fan of GO Journal Creative Director Mika Ninagawa, and is very excited to meet her.
The Rain, the Light, the Shining Ground
The first shot is of Hata against the vivid green backdrop of a tree. It’s just like any other tree—something you might just walk past in your daily life—and yet, seen through Ninagawa’s camera, it seems to almost come alive. The pitter patter of rain on the umbrella and the clicks of the camera shutter form a light, quiet rhythm.
They move to the next spot, shutter clicking all the way. Awaiting Hata and the crew was a world of emerald green.
The ground, painted green, had taken on a sheen from the rain. The light reflecting off of it creates an almost mystical atmosphere. For the crew, the rain had been unfortunate. And yet, like magic, Ninagawa makes it seem as if she’d planned for it all along. The site is engulfed in a sense of oneness.
Running Through the Tokyo Night
It is now late evening. Hata, having changed into a track suit that seems to reflect and refract light like a jewel, begins her warm-up—stretching, using the bend of her prosthetic leg to jump in the air. Her face gradually shifts into that of an athlete.
Again and again, she runs the same 30m distance. Photos are taken, looked at—repeat. After some particularly good shots, Ninagawa nods.
“You look cool out there!” She says. Hata looks a little relieved to hear her words. The crew feel that sense of oneness again, that desire to work together to create something amazing.
Engulfed in Bright Light and Kindness
The last shot is of Hata on a bike, wearing a fluffy down jacket, cycling pants, and a helmet. It’s gotten even colder, and the rain that continues to fall now pitter patters onto Hata’s face. Hata is a white silhouette in this dark parking lot.
“In triathlon we do races in the rain, too, so I’m okay. I just feel bad, because I’m the only one wearing warm clothes…” says Hata, ever considerate.
Indeed, her gentle consideration for others is one of the things that make her so appealing.
Mika Ninagawa x Yukako Hata: The Last Shot
Four hours after the start of the photo shoot, Ninagawa lays down her camera, looking satisfied. “Mika told me about all kinds of things over the course of the photo shoot, so it was really fun. She said, ‘You’re really pretty,’ which also just made me really happy,” said Hata after the photo shoot, looking a bit embarrassed.
In August 2019, there was a Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games test event held in Odaiba, where this photo shoot took place. The event, held on a blazing hot day, was meant to evaluate how the actual Paralympics would be.
“I get excited and nervous when I’m even near Odaiba. The fact that I was able to have this shoot here will be such an amazing memory for me. I want to do well next year so that I can think of my race at the Tokyo Paralympics as another ‘memory of Odaiba,’” Hata said about her hope for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
“GO Journal ISSUE 04” captures Hata’s current reality—her wish to be a role model to someone, somewhere. Take a look and breathe in the magic of Ninagawa’s photography, as well as the immediacy of these athletes, who live their lives in the here and now.
text by Rihe Chang
photo by Hiro Nagoya
See the GO Journal official website for the photos from this shoot, as shot by Ninagawa, and Hata’s interview.
● See here for the behind-the-scenes report on Renshi Chokai