Mount Fuji

Hokusai, 36 Views of Mount Fuji Mount Fuji appears to be popping everywhere at the moment: aside from the draw it still has for Japanese artists (Naoki Ishikawa, Ken Kitano, Masao Yamamoto) it also seems to be rippling more and more through the foreign art landscape. The renowned ukiyo-e artist, Hokusai's 36 Views of Mount Fuji inspired Jeff Wall's A Sudden Gust of Wind. In 2007 Julian Opie reinterpreted the Japanese woodcut in a series of video installations and, with his Fuji project, Chris Steele-Perkins undertook a modern day equivalent of Hokusai's journey. It is even starting to appear outside of Japan: in Alain Bublex's Mont Fuji et autres ponts the mountain goes walkabout, turning up in the US and France. In fact it is so ubiquitous that it followed me into the metro the other day.


I can't think of any other major landmarks from Asia that have clear symbolic meaning in the West. The Taj Mahal? The Great Wall of China? Although these are universally recognised, they don't have the same aura of mystique or the same depth of symbolism as Fujisan. Can anyone out there think of any symbols that resonate on a similarly global scale through the art world?

A slope with a view

Ko Sasaki / New York Times There is a great story in yesterday's New York Times on a small neighbourhood group in Tokyo, the  Society to Protect Nippori’s Fujimizaka, that are trying to preserve one of the capital's last remaining views of Mount Fuji.  This is a classic David versus Goliath story, where a handful of OAPs from Nippori are struggling to preserve their beloved view of Fuji-san, which would would require "capping building heights within an elongated fan-shaped corridor three miles long and up to 1,000 feet wide" across the city, going up against the entire Tokyo property development world in the process. I love the absurdity of the idea of protecting a view in one of the world's most densely populated cities and the thought of just what Tokyo might look like in 100 years if they succeed. Sadly, they have already lost 1/3 of their view to a 14-story apartment block, but I hope that they do manage to hold on to the remaining 2/3 for a few years yet.