Image: Mt Fuji with flying clouds by Sasajima Kihei (1906-1993)
Ink: Dazai Osamu on the apparent height of Mt Fuji, from "One Hundred Views of Mt Fuji" (1939):
"Fujiyama, the glory of Japan": if foreigners find it "wonderful", this is because we've told them so a thousand times, so that Mt Fuji as become a sort of dream vision for them. But suppose you first caught sight of the mountain without first being subjected to all the hype - naively, in all innocence, mind like a blank sheet, as it were, what would you make of it then? Nothing would be for sure. It's a rather small mountain, after all. Yes, small in comparison with its base. Given the length of its base, Mt Fuji should be one and a half times as high.
Only once has the mountain looked high to me, and that was when I saw it from the Jikkoku pass. That was a memorable day. The summit being smothered in clouds, I traced the lines described by the lower slopes and made a guess at where exactly they would meet above. Then the clouds parted and I realised how wrong I'd been. There was the summit, with its blue-shaded tints, at least twice as high as I'd imagined it. But rather than surprise, I felt a sort of frisson and burst out laughing. "Well, Fuji had me there," I thought.