It is still fresh in our memory that in June 2013, Mt. Fuji, the symbolic mountain of Japan, was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site under the name of “Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration.” And then, four and a half years later, in December 2017, “Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre, Shizuoka” opened in Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture. This is a museum created for the purpose of conveying to the present and future generations all things related to Mt. Fuji, and it also functions as a center devoted to preserving the sacred mountain. It was built just beside the Ichi-no-torii (the first torii gate) of Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine. In the museum you can learn a lot about various aspects of Mt. Fuji: its history, religion, art, and nature, for example.
I had been looking forward to visiting the museum long before its completion because some fascinating stories and rumors about it had already reached my ears: I had heard that the total construction cost would amount to be 4.1 billion yen (roughly 39 million dollars as of March 2018), the main building would be in the shape of an inverted Mt. Fuji (although I didn’t know the reason why), and we would be able to “simulate” Mt. Fuji climbing there (I couldn’t imagine how they would do it, either). These things intrigued me much. So I was really glad when I finally got to visit there in mid-January 2018.
At first I would like to talk about the facade of the building. There is a very big water basin (in architectural lingo, a “water feature”) in front of the inverted-Mt. Fuji-shaped main building. The water in the large basin is actually Mt. Fuji’s spring water. First they draw the water from the nearby stream, and after being used in the building for the air conditioners, it finally comes to the basin. It is said that it represents the concept of the museum, “the circulation and reflection of Mt. Fuji’s water.”
And when I poised my camera trying to capture the building and casually gazed down at the surface of the water, I realized the true intention of the creator of this facility: I found there was a reflection of the building on the water, which was not an inverted Mt. Fuji anymore but an right-side-up cone-shaped accurate description of the mountain!
I paid the admission fee of 300 yen and entered into the main building. This facility was designed by Shigeru Ban, a renowned architect who received the honorable Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2014. The exterior of the main building is covered by wooden latticework. The wood was locally produced in Fujinomiya City and Fuji City, and is known as the brand name “Fuji Hinoki Made.”
Photographs: taken at Mt. Fuji World Heritage Centre, Shizuoka,
by Koji Ikuma and, unless otherwise noted, with Fuji X-T1 & P.Angenieux Paris 15mmF1.3