富士山

Dramatic sky in Nakano

sunset_nakano
中野の空が燃えているみたいに見えます。新しく建ったビルのせいで、ベランダから富士山はもう見えません

The sky appears to be on fire. Unfortunately, the new building blocks our old view of Mount Fuji.

Domesticated Mount Fuji in today’s Edo

mtfuji_clothespins_nakano_b

江戸時代から、富士山と都市は一緒にイメージされています。最近、富士山の噴火に関する記事が多いですね。

Recently, there have been several reports that Mount Fuji may erupt and cause an earthquake, or vice versa. What I love about this giant volcano is its utterly domestic and urban nature. Today’s urban views, completely with laundry drying, are an extension of hundreds of years of Edo visual representation.

Seeing Mount Fuji reminds me that I am in Tokyo

いつも富士山を見るたびに、私は東京にいるなあと思います。

I am always delighted to see Mount Fuji from our balcony. In the morning, it glistens with snow, and at  sunset the backlighting and colors are extraordinary. Seeing Mount Fuji reminds me that, yes, I am in Tokyo.

Rare summer view of Mount Fuji

夏のもやで、あまり富士山が見えません。ところが、晴れた日に、富士山の上に雪の残りが見えます。

Summer’s humid haze often blocks views of Mount Fuji. It’s amazing to see the last bits of snow on the volcano.

Snow begins to cover Mount Fuji

寒い季節は、空が澄んでいることが多いです 。今富士山にはいっぱい雪があります。あけましておめでとう。

The cold weather brings clear skies. You can watch as the snow gradually starts out as icing on Mount Fuji, and then covers it entirely for winter.

Happy new year!

Setting sun as big as Mount Fuji

たまに家の事務所からすばらしい景色が見えることに気がつきます。富士山の夕焼けはいい年末の写真だと思います。良い年をお迎えください。

Sometimes I am aware that my home office has a sublime view.

Mount Fuji at end of road at sunset

よくこの道を自転車で行きます。突然に道の終わりに富士山が見えて、驚いた。もっと注意深く観察しなければなりません。

I bike down this road so often, and suddenly I am surprised to see Mount Fuji at the very end. How come I am seeing it here for the first time? Maybe it’s the red of the sky against the traffic and brake lights.

Itsukaichi Kaido is one of the main Edo roads connecting Tokyo with western Japan. Near the city, it connects Koenji with Kichijoji while veering across and away from the Chuo train line. It also crosses the Zenpukuji river, which is a lovely greenway far from the train stations and mostly enjoyed by the neighbors.

Mount Fuji in the recycling shelves

リサイクルの場所に、富士山が見えるのでびっくりしました。

In my apartment building’s enormous recycling and garbage area, I found this lovely image of Mount Fuji staring at me. Only in Japan do residents neatly fold and lovingly display used items destined for shredding and recycling. This image is not of the artistic quality of Hiroshige (広重)’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji, it’s a lovely reminder of nature in an unlikely place.

Shrine shelters two enormous trees in Roka-koen

木のあいだから、富士山が見える。神社のおかげで、このふたつの木は大きくなりました。

Recently I was helping my friend Matt making bonsais in his Roka-koen apartment in Setagaya when I saw this incredible sunset. This is his view looking west from his fifth floor apartment. It’s amazing how dense Tokyo is, and how far the city spreads out from the center.

A small Shinto shrine is the reason that these two giant trees are still there. Dating back perhaps to just after the war, these trees seem to be an important stepping stone for neighborhood and regional birds. With the clear winter skies and the leaves gone, you can see Mount Fuji through the trees.

Why aren’t mature trees recognized as a vital urban resource? How can these small islands of nature be connected with larger parks and other micro-green spaces? What is the role of Shinto as a religion and as thousands of property owners in supporting urban wildlife?

Dreaming of Mount Fuji on January 1

What will you dream about tonight?

今夜何の夢を見ますか?

A very cultured friend told me recently that Japanese celebrate 初夢 (hatsuyume) in addition to 初詣 (hatsumoude). At the very start of the new year, many Japanese visit local or famous shrines and temples to welcome the new year, a practice known as hatsumoude. Hatsuyume refers to the first dream of the new year, and many people wake up on January 2 trying to remember their dreams, which will reflect their fortune for the coming year.

The three luckiest dreams are Mount Fuji, hawk, and eggplant. This tradition dates to early Edo times. Have you ever dreamed of any of these? Will you be paying attention to your dream on the night of January 1, the first full night of the new year?

Mount Fuji is on fire!

The fall sky is incredibly clear, and we often see Mount Fuji from our balcony at sunrise and sunset in these months. Still there are times I go out into our narrow high-rise garden, look out, and feel startled and humbled by the overwhelming beauty of this celebrated natural and spiritual landmark.

The world’s most famous natural landmarks are in some ways like our global cities’the most famous built landmarks. Mount Fuji, like the Eiffel Tower, has a form and mythology that all of us know before setting eyes on it.

Mount Fuji has been represented over many centuries and in many forms, from fine art, most notably Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji, to countless sento mosaics. Until the Meiji era, women were prohibited from its summit. Yet despite our investing so many cultural meanings on this mountain, its presence exceeds human memory and most likely our specie’s future.

Mount Fuji’s sublime appearance on the horizon lifts our vision from a prosaic cityscape, packed with non-descript, high-rise and low-rise residences, television, cellphone and lightening antennas, giant power lines, and a garbage incinerator. As a dormant volcano it, too, has a temporal form, yet its scale and longevity makes our human presence feel very transitory.