“Evening primroses look very well in the landscape of Fuji,” said Osamu Dazai in his popular novel Fugaku Hyakkei (100 views of Mt. Fuji). As I told in my previous post about the novel, Dazai didn’t actually see Fuji and evening primroses together in the same landscape. Some thoughtful people interpret this sentence as meaning that Dazai likened Fuji to the Japanese society and himself to evening primroses. When Dazai wrote this novel, Japan was governed by the military juggernaut. He was not conscripted into the army as he was physically as well as mentally fragile. I can imagine how he felt towards the society. It was a dark age in the history of Japan. There was no freedom. The military dictatorship severely controlled individuals. I think every creators and artists would hate such a government. Evening primroses don’t look spectacular at all. I thought they were just blooming weeds till recently. Honestly, speaking there are other flowers that look much better in the landscapes of Mt. Fuji. To name a few, cherry blossoms and cosmos flowers come to my mind.
I’ve always wanted to shoot Fuji from the top of Mt. Kokushigatake. I tried to climb the mountain last November, but the gate of the forest road leading to the mountain was closed earlier than usual due to heavy snow. I was very busy with my exhibition in summer. I waited for ten months, and eventually I got an opportunity to try again.
I left home at midnight heading to Oodarumi Touge (大弛峠), which is located on the northern border of Yamanashi prefecture. My house is located in the southern part of Yamanashi prefecture. According to Google Map, it takes three hours, much longer than going to Gotenba or Hakone. Two deers and one fox jumped in front of my car on my way there. Since I expected some animals would do it so I could safely avoid them. Yamanashi prefecture is one of the least populated prefectures in Japan. If you see a sign board making alert of animals, drive slowly so that you can safely avoid them.
When you gain some experience in photography, you realise the importance of lighting. When it comes to still life and portrait photography, you can control lighting using gear such a strobe light. As far as landscape photography is concerned, you cannot basically lighten the subject. I said ‘basically’ because you can use light painting technique, for example, to lighten subjects in the foreground when shooting night photography. You can also use an electric flash to lighten plants (such as maple trees and sakura trees) in the foreground when taking backlit shots . But you can’t light up huge subjects such as Mount Fuji. For that reason, it is vitally important for landscapes to be at the right place at the right time, that is, visit a place where you can make a beautiful composition when nature gives best light. Even when we try to do so, we are at the wrong place at the wrong time at times as nature is always beyond our expectation.
It was a busy day. I took this shot in the early morning in Oshino.
I slept for a couple of hours and left Fujiyoshida to Tokyo. First, I visited Shinjuku. The area close to the west entrance of Shinjuku (A.K.A. Shinjuku Nishiguchi) is the best place to buy camera gear in Tokyo. Then, I went to Nikon’s Service Centre in Ginza to have them clean the sensors of my Nikon cameras. There are many camera-related shops and galleries in Shinjuku and Ginza areas. Great places for photo enthusiasts.
Japanese literary giant in the Taisho/Showa era, Osamu Dazai wrote in his popular novel “Fugaku Hyakkei (One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji)”, “Tsukimisou (evening primroses/oenothera tetraptera) really look very well in the landscape of Mt Fuji.” Honestly speaking, I’ve never read any English translation of the novel, so I’m not sure if the exact same sentence actually appear in your book. Anyway, he said something like that. But, in fact, he didn’t see Fuji and evening primroses together with his eyes. When he was returning from Fujiyoshida to Misaka Touge, he witnessed people on the bus were very delighted to see magnificent Fujiyama through the windows. Then he found an old woman sitting on the other side of the bus gazing at the other side from Fujisan. Dazai sympathised with the old woman. He did the same and saw evening primroses blooming on the other side from Fuji, and then, said “Evening primroses really look very well in the landscape of Mt Fuji.” Meaning that, he never saw evening primroses together with Fuji in the same landscape.
“Tales of Fuji | New Era” Yuga Kurita Exhibition
From Aug 2 (SAT) to Aug 15 (FRI)
Literary Giant Soseki Natsume wrote, “There’s only one thing we can be proud of in Japan. That’s Mt. Fuji.” Back then, Japan had just emerged from feudal isolation and was locked in the midst of a rapid modernization. Having recently returned from the UK, Soseki felt Japan was significantly behind western nations and unable to create anything worth taking pride in. Although we now have technological and cultural advancements that we can take pride ourselves in, facing Mt. Fuji with a solemn heart still reveals the thing lost during modernization. (Yuga Kurita)