The photographer reimagines a centuries-old Japanese tale of a beautiful girl named Kaguya-Hime by mixing Buddhist teachings with her own, mystical vision of femininity.

Taketori Monogatari is a centuries-old Japanese tale of a girl who came to Earth from the moon. The story goes that she was found as a tiny baby inside a glowing bamboo stem by an elderly bamboo cutter. He and his wife raised her as their own child and named her Kaguya-Hime, which translates to “Shining Princess”. Kaguya-Hime eventually became incredibly beautiful, attracting scores of princely suitors from faraway lands. But she longed for her home, the moon, and rejected all men. To avoid marrying, Kaguya-Hime asked them to complete impossible tasks she knew they would not be able to fulfil. In the end, she returns to the moon with a carriage of luminous beings.

The character’s independence and unearthly quality are what inspired Alexandra Leese, a Chinese-British photographer living in London, to turn the folktale into a visual story. She heard the story from Yumi Carter, whom she befriended while street-casting for a fashion campaign. Years later, they reconnected to create a series of portraits of Yumi and pictures of the Moon. To imbue the imagery with fantasy, Leese mixed various Japanese references with her own, mystical vision of femininity. 

Leese is publishing the images as a zine titled Yumi and the Moon, which is available to pre-order from Antenne Books now. As we exclusively debut images from the zine, we catch up with the photographer to talk about the significance of hair, opening up to inspiration in all shapes and forms, and how to create nude pictures that aren’t sexual. – Read the full article – Dazed