After a successful two day trip around the Izu peninsula, Susan and I were in the car, headed back to Tokyo. We were on the not-as-pretty side if Izu, expecting an uneventful drive back home. But then, as the coastal road turned inland, the sun was setting, and there was an excellent view of Mt Fuji, through the inland hills of Izu. We took advantage of a bus stop on the highway we were on. How could you not?
I… don’t know how I feel about photographing Mt Fuji. On one hand, I have so many photos of the thing, you’d think I’d get bored of it. But I don’t. Mt Fuji is special, somehow. And it’s been special since before cameras were invented. Which means that the bar for photographing Mt Fuji is ridiculously high. Yuga Kurita is a stand up guy who is constantly making me feel inferior when it comes to photos of Mt Fuji. But still, I have to try. I can’t not. It’s so pretty.
But that gets me back to that question that bakes my noodle on the reg, “Does this photo have a why?” Why do I want people to look at it, and why do people want to look at it. Sure, being Mt Fuji buys you a certain amount of why. But I think that what Mt Fuji buys you is the immediate visual connection to “This is Japan,” and that is where your foreground becomes important. It gives you the opportunity to showcase a foreground, and to say, “This is also Japan.” Sometimes, as a tourist, you don’t see all of Japan, you see a particular angle of Japan. You forget that things like highway bus stops, box stores, grain elevators, used car lots, and rickety old apartment buildings are just as Japan as Mt Fuji is. So are mountains. Mountains define Japan, in a lot of ways. The cities that we connect with Japan, Japan’s population, and the wonders of public transportation in Japan, are shaped by the mountains of Japan. It’s easy to forget that sometimes, limited to the trains. But when you stretch out a bit and see how the mountains determine where everything and everyone is, you begin to understand a little more.
So maybe that’s the why. Maybe Mt Fuji is the canvas that photographers paint on top of, to establish a clearer understanding of what Japan is. Or maybe it’s just a pretty volcano that hasn’t erupted in a good long while so we aren’t as afraid of it as maybe we should be. Either way, expect this to be far from the last photo I take of the mountain.
Worth pointing out just ’cause is that the highest peak on Mt Fuji, where you can see Susan and I standing on in my gear list post, is that hook on the left edge of the caldera rim in this photo. In some of the photos from my most recent ascent, you can see the Izu peninsula, but probably not the precise spot where we were pulled over, taking this photo.