As anyone who has witnessed my near-obsessive liking for Hokusai’s ‘The Great Wave’ can attest, I consider myself a fan of Japanese ukiyo-e (woodblock prints). This thought struck me yesterday, combining with my realisation that, due to recent weather conditions and tall buildings, I had yet to catch a glimpse of Japan’s famous peak. There is one place within Tokyo where Mt. Fuji could be seen from street level, rather than queuing for a good few hours to mount the Skytree.
I had heard that the view was threatened by building work, despite numerous attempts to protect it by local residents. Thus it was with some trepidation that I set off for Nishi-Nippori and climbed the nearby hill.
I can hardly claim to be disappointed. I certainly wasn’t expecting the gorgeous clarity portrayed in the original picture, but the fact that the air was clear made no difference whatsoever. Despite having only started a few months ago, the first building to partially cover the mountain had given way to many more, rendering it completely invisible from the famous street.
As I said, I found this less disappointing than desperately sad. I’ve often admired how well the Japanese manage to incorporate elements of their history into modern design and city planning. A respect for the past is, in my mind, an important attribute, and if nothing else an interesting photographic subject, but it seems even Japan is not infallible in this. The header photo is the current view from the same street. I lingered for about half an hour, and in that time various passers-by slowed their cars or adjusted their walking course to crane their necks and travel the width of the street in order to take in the famous view. All left quietly after a few minutes, some shaking their heads.
In the end I was able to see some of the mountain by standing in a nearby carpark, which was slightly raised off the ground and lay next to the street. The scene is exquisitely dismal. I left Fujimizaka somewhat embittered.