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[Eternal Hokusai] Straight Line Connecting Japan’s Number Ones: Mount Fuji and Tokyo Skytree



Tokyo Skytree in the foregrount, sunset over Mount Fuji


A magnificent sunset sinks behind Mount Fuji. The two “number ones in Japan” become silhouettes and merge over the orange canvas.  

In a residential neighborhood settled on high ground in Chiba Prefecture, there is a spot somewhat well known among photography enthusiasts, where Mount Fuji and the Tokyo Skytree (in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward) align.

When viewed with a super telephoto lens, Mount Fuji and Skytree appear to overlap, but in fact the two are more than 100 kilometers apart. 

Also on the straight line connecting the two is the Meiji Shrine, which celebrated its 100th anniversary on November 1. When the line stretches to the East, it leads to Kashima Shrine, and when it stretches to the West, there is the Ise Shrine. 

Is it by coincidence or inevitable that a straight line is formed connecting these “power spots” (spiritual spots) scattered across the region? It is indeed a curious mystery on the map. 

The “Sacred Mount Fuji” has attracted many artists from ancient times. Ukiyo-e painter, Katsushika Hokusai, whose 260th anniversary of birth was this year, was one of them. 

From Hokusai's Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji (depicted in the far distance with other landmarks of the time in front.)

According to the climate, location or season, Mount Fuji’s appearance changes. Hokusai’s “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” was painted with the intention to depict a single subject from various angles. The images are not only depicted in their natural settings, but man-made structures such as bridges, torii gates and turrets also often appear in the paintings. 

His pursuit of interesting compositions earned Hokusai a reputation, and his works established the genre of landscape paintings in ukiyo-e. 

Makoto Takemura, 42, curator at The Sumida Hokusai Museum says, “Bridges, which were landmarks during the Edo period, often appeared in ukiyo-e paintings. I’m assuming that the Tokyo Skytree, a modern-day landmark, would have been painted as well.”  

If Hokusaiーwho was born in the Sumida Wardーwere alive today, how would he feel when gazing up at the Skytree? As I watched the sky change colors moment by moment, I let my imagination run wild. 

(Find the original photojournalism story here, in Japanese.)

 READ THE SERIES: [Eternal Hokusai], here.

Author: Ryosuke Kawaguchi, Photo News Department, The Sankei Shimbun  

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