The morning fog behind me, I make it to Lake Motosu. A quick stop as always by the side of the lake to check on the weather. Thick clouds. Still one hour to go before I reach my destination.
Arriving at the lookout, I’m a little disappointed to see I’m the only one here.
Soon enough, in the faint light now appearing between layers of dark cloud, a familiar shape begins to take form. Mount Fuji. No reason yet to expect anything out of the ordinary, but this morning, I’m about to witness a scene few people ever see.
My hands shake as I fumble, trying to load the film. A minute seems like an eternity.
Looking up at this wondrous sight, I feel the very particles of my being melt into the universe, as if I too were just light and shadow.

Capturing Mount Fuji

For the photographer trying to capture images of Mount Fuji, the most important personal qualities are imagination and the ability to visualise how images may appear, based on variables such as where and when the photographs are taken. For this, an understanding of the various phenomena that affect photography is also required – starting with atmospheric conditions, geography, the position of the earth, sun and moon, as well as the way the angle and wavelength of the light affect colours. This understanding can then fuel the photographer’s own powers of imagination. There is still an element of trial and error though, and even with all this knowledge, it takes a lot of photos to get a few good shots.

Text and Photos: 岳 丸山 Gaku Maruyama

The late Maruyama Gaku’s corporate life took a sudden turn when he was struck down by a life-threatening heart condition in 2003. He survived against all odds after a series of operations and credited his recovery in part to the sense of hope he gained from looking at images of Mount Fuji. He in turn began photographing Japan’s sacred mountain as part of his post-operative rehabilitation therapy. From 2007 he used those images to help ease the hearts of gravely ill patients in hospitals. Sadly, Maruyama Gaku was again taken ill and passed away in February 2020.

English Version: Judy Evans

Editor and Japanese-English translator Judy Evans has a background in education, the arts, production horticulture and landscape design. A secondary school teacher of Japanese and English who spent many years living and working in Japan, Judy now lives on a small farm in rural New Zealand and remains a frequent visitor to Japan.