Noilly Prattle: Getting Reacquainted 6 - 17 Views of Mount Fuji

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Getting Reacquainted 6 - 17 Views of Mount Fuji

       Mount Fuji (富士山) is the quintessential icon of Japan. Not only is it a near-perfect conical-shaped volcano, but its location, somewhat isolated from other mountains and visible from the sea, leaves it in solitary splendor.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa
        The Edo Period ukiyo-e painter Hokusai (died in 1849) made Mt. Fuji famous with a series of woodblock prints called Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (富嶽三十六景). The pictures were designed as posters to attract the then flourishing tourist trade to the hot spring inns in the Izu Peninsula and the Fuji Lakes region where the best views of the volcano can be seen. The most famous of Hokusai's 36 Views is The Great Wave off Kanagawa

        With this idealized image of the Mount Fuji region in mind we decided to take a short getaway trip to stay at hot spring inns in Izu and the Fuji Lakes region. Going east, Mount Fuji becomes visible from the bullet train after the city of Shizuoka. You can see it in the distance, sometimes in a fairly pristine condition (top photo), but more often with houses or factories and other businesses in front of it. The gateway to the area is the city of Mishima from which you can take local trains or buses to go south into the Izu Peninsula or north to Lake Kawaguchi in the Fuji Lakes region.

Lake Kawaguchi

1st view of Mt. Fuji from hotel room
        Our son joined us from Tokyo in Mishima and we took a local train to a lovely old hot spring inn near Shuzenji Temple on the Izu Peninsula. The following morning we returned to Mishima to take a bus to Lake Kawaguchi (above) where we had a hot spring hotel reservation. The bus circles around the eastern slope of Mount Fuji which is mostly characterized by urban blight in that you can see the volcano through a thick haze of industrialization: factories, smokestacks, power pylons and lines, and shops and restaurants. The view from the bus window was a heavy dose of modern reality, but the icing on the cake was the view of Mount Fuji from our hotel room. A picture (above) is worth 1000 words in this case.

        With Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji in mind, the idea occurred to me of doing a more up-to-date series: Seventeen Modern Views of Mount Fuji.

From the Bullet Train

From the local train and bus

From the hotel

nostalgic Fuji

Mt. Fuji's hat
there's got to be a morning after...

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