12 28 2023

Kyoto, Japan
Hayato & Mika Nishiyama
from Mitate

Mount Fuji stands as a globally recognized icon, celebrated for its unmatched and graceful presence that leaves an enduring impression. Beyond serving as a symbol of Japan, it has achieved international acclaim.


In Japan, the allure of Mount Fuji has enchanted hearts since ancient times. The “Manyoshu,” the oldest Japanese poetry collection, already features verses extolling the magnificence of Mount Fuji. Across the centuries, Mount Fuji has inspired countless artistic endeavors, appearing in literary masterpieces like “The Tale of Genji” and “The Tales of Ise,” as well as in the haiku of Matsuo Basho and Yosa Buson during the Edo period, and the masterpieces of Katsushika Hokusai and Utagawa Hiroshige.


The harmonious coexistence of people and nature through faith and art is a defining characteristic attributed to Mount Fuji. Furthermore, Mount Fuji’s cultural and artistic impact on Japanese life is evident in auspicious New Year’s dreams, such as the popular saying “Ichifusa, Nifuta, Sannasubi,” and other enduring traditions.


Derived from the unique features of Japanese cuisine, the spirit of presenting dishes with elevation mirrors the majestic scenery of Mount Fuji. Similarly, the imposing tip of a shimenawa (sacred rope), serving as a marker for the descent of deities, is undoubtedly influenced by the presence of Mount Fuji. Envisioning Mount Fuji as an object of worship and a sacred mountain makes it easy to picture deities descending to its summit.


Our local craftsmen painstakingly create the decorative “Fuji” using 88 straw bundles, forming an expansive and artful structure. As rice cultivation involves 88 steps, symbolized by the character “米” (rice), each step is carefully counted as the straw is bundled. The snowy top, made of washi paper skillfully applied with gofun (white pigment), evokes a mesmerizing snow-covered effect.


Even for those who don’t approach Mount Fuji with religious reverence, its straightforward and beautiful form naturally commands respect. Embracing elements such as New Year decorations appears to be a shared desire among many.