Mount Fuji – a Japanese icon

The coach zigzagged its way up the hill, around a seemingly endless sequence of horseshoe bends. The scenery was pleasant but not startling, mountain scenery that you can enjoy in many places, steep slopes, evergreen trees and a few inches depth of unmelted snow, the last remaining from the winter. We were focussed on the next stage of our trip, which was a ride by cable-car down to a lake.

And then, abruptly, there it was. We gave a collective gasp. It was miles distant, and yet it loomed over us, the perfect volcano, an icon of Japan, Mount Fuji. The upper slopes were thickly snow-covered, gleaming in the sun, dazzling under the almost cloudless cerulean sky. I couldn’t help but feel the power of the symbol.

Hakone Mount Fuji 001 170404

My photographs cannot begin to do justice to the sight; indeed, I hesitate to offer them at all as they fall so far short. My words are no better.

Hakone Mount Fuji 002 170404

The Japanese feel a great sense of pride in the beauty and majesty of Mount Fuji, and that is as it should be. However, national symbols come with dangers. Think of the American flag, the singing of Jerusalem at the Last Night of the Proms. Because they cause men to come together with a sense of national pride, they can be used by unscrupulous politicians to set us against each other.

Today I sat in a coach with Japanese people, and shared their awe and delight in the might of Mount Fuji. As a human being, I am one with them, they are my brothers and sisters, just as Americans are, or Australian aboriginals, or continental Europeans. I must not, I will not, allow myself ever to be distracted or led away from that profound truth.

The Hakone Open-Air Museum

Combine the Japanese flair for gardens with a mountain setting and the absolute pinnacle of twentieth century sculpture, and what do you have? The Hakone Open-Air Museum.

It’s a great display, and well worth a visit. We were there two and a half hours, and we could have spent twice as long.

Unfortunately (from the pov of writing a blog) we’re staying in a ryo-kan, and I’m typing this with the laptop on a relatively low table and me standing. Uncomfortable? Very.

So all you’re getting is pictures! I hope you enjoy them. I can assure you that the real thing is much better!

Hakone landscape with sculpture 170403

 The sculpture below is “La Pleureuse”. It’s awesome!

Hakone La Pleureuse 170403

The next sculpture is “Symphonic sculpture”.

Hakone Symphonic sculpture 170403

And finally, a piece on a more human scale – “Alba”

Hakone Alba 170403

Autumn Leaves and Cherry Blossom

Hiroshima torii 170326

I am delighted to invite my family, my friends and all those who follow my blog to come with me in spirit as I visit Japan. The itinerary includes Tokyo, Hakone, Kyoto and Hiroshima. I expect to blog pictures of Mt Fuji, cherry blossom, the Golden Pavilion, Ryoanji Zen garden, the bullet train, Miyajima Island, and the Peace Park in Hiroshima. There will also be pictures of food…

I don’t expect to be writing any fiction unless the muse becomes very insistent.

Normal blogging will resume w/c 17 April, with the first post planned for Tuesday 18th April.

Hiroshima cherry blossom and A bomb ruin 170326