Thursday, December 4, 2014

Images and ink (20)

Image: Harajuku in the 1830s, not as it is now, by 
Andō Hiroshige.

Ink: Dazai Osamu on the angles of Mt Fuji, from "One Hundred Views of Mt Fuji" (1939):

The slopes of Mt Fuji converge at an angle of eighty-five degrees in the prints of Hiroshige, and at eighty-four degrees in those of Bunchō. Yet a glance at the Army General Staff map is enough to establish that the east-west slopes, in fact, come together at an angle of one hundred and twenty-four degrees. For the north-south slopes, the angle is one hundred and seventeen degrees. 

Not that Hiroshige and Bunchō are doing anything very extraordinary; in almost any artistic representation of Mt Fuji, the angle formed by its slopes is shown as very acute, transforming the summit into something slender, aery and insubstantial. Hokusai indeed narrows that angle down to thirty degrees, creating a veritable Eiffel Tower. 

In reality, though, Mt Fuji forms a rather obtuse angle; it is a mountain of gentle slopes. With those flanks of one hundred and twenty-four degrees in one direction and of one hundred and seventeen degrees in the other, there is nothing particularly lofty or spectacular about this mountain. 

It seems to me that, were I in India or some other faraway country, and an eagle took me up in his talons and dropped me off on the coast of Japan somewhere near Numazu, the appearance of this mountain wouldn't in the slightest degree impress me.

More about the angles of Mt Fuji on this blog: Behind the curve

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