Views of Mount Fuji: Then and Now

See perspectives of one of Japan's most famous landmarks from yesterday and today

By Google Arts & Culture

Mt. Fuji (1940) by Yokoyama TaikanAdachi Museum of Art

Mount Fuji, called Fuji-san or Fujiyama locally, is one of the best known features of the landscape on the Japanese island of Honshu. The peak, which is an active volcano, has long been a nucleus of culture and spirituality for the Japanese people.

For centuries, artists have created gorgeous renditions of Japan's tallest mountain, and its beauty still captivates people around the globe. Scroll to see side-by-side depictions of Fuji-san from the past and present.

Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido Hoeido Edition “Yui (Satta Pass)” (1833) by Utagawa HiroshigeShizuoka city Tokaido Hiroshige Museum of Art

The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō: Yui

During the 1830s, Hiroshige created his landmark series depicting the 53 post stations along the Tōkaidō. The road is a passage from Edo (Tokyo's name until 1868) to Kyoto. This woodblock print exemplifies the Japanese art known as ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the floating world".

Tokaido Road - Yui (after Hiroshige) (2013) by Emily AllchurchShizuoka city Tokaido Hiroshige Museum of Art

Almost two centuries later, British artist Emily Allchurch used an innovative digital technique to recreate the view from Satta Pass. See if you can spot the differences between this and the original work.

Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji: The Great Wave Off the Coast of Kanagawa (Edo period, 19th century) by Katsushika HokusaiTokyo National Museum

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

This piece from Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji is perhaps Hokusai's most acclaimed work, but the titular mountain isn't the focal point of the first print in the series.

Instead, Fujiyama sits behind the crashing waves as the surf batters fishing boats in the foreground. The drama of the scene almost eclipses the view, but the calm tranquility of Mt. Fuji stands in contrast to the chaos.

Evening scene with sail boats and Mount Fuji (1900s) by Artist: Ohara KosonSmithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art

Created in the following century, Ohara Koson's woodblock print Evening Scene With Sail Boats and Mt. Fuji depicts a similar view of the peak, but with far more peaceful surroundings.

Earth Observations by the Expedition 19 crew (2009-04-08)NASA

Although one might expect the summit of a volcano to be boiling hot, Fuji-san is snow-capped several months every year. You can even hike to the top!

Around the rim of the Ohachi crater, you'll find the Kusushi Shrine and Fujisancho Post Office. Scroll down to hike the path and see the spectacular views using Street View.

Uchikake (Winter Outer Robe) with Mt.Fuji in mist on blue plain silk (the end of the 18th century(Edo period) - the early19th century (Edo period)) by UnknownNara Prefectural Museum

The renowned mountain doesn't only appear on woodblocks and canvases, though. The 12, 388 ft peak appears in literature, theatre, music, and almost any other form of art you can think of.

This uchikake, a winter outer robe, was made towards the end of the Edo period (1600 - 1868 CE). Though the creator is unknown, their masterful rendition of the legendary mountain lives on.

Distant Mt. Fuji, Island of Honshu Japan (1992-11-01)NASA

Now, we can use modern technology to see the landmark from more viewpoints than ever. To continue exploring the volcano's wonders, check out Mt. Fuji on Google Earth and see if you can spot the Kusushi Shrine on the crater's edge.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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