At Home with Mt. Fuji

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Four years have passed since I moved from Hiroshima to Tachikawa. Brought up in my childhood looking at Mt. Fuji, it was my wish to spend my last years admiring the mountain. I had to look around quite a bit, but fortunately I found a suite of rooms in a condominium which was not beyond my means. I live now on the eleventh floor enjoying a superb view. Below my eyes runs the River Tama and far away I can see the range of the Tanzawa mountains. Mt. Fuji fills the wide gap between Mt. Omuro and Mt. Takao and soars far above the other mountains.

I climbed Mt. Fuji when I was a student — only once in my life. I was attending a meeting at a Christian retreat called Tozanso in Gotenba and there met a student from the Philippines, who wanted to climb Mt. Fuji. I volunteered to be his guide. The journey up the steep slope was harder than we expected. Our plan was to see the sunrise from the top, but the low temperature and lack of oxygen forced us to spend the night in a hut at the eighth station. However, it was breath-taking to see the sun come out the next morning and change the whole world suddenly in an eye blink. I can never forget the sight of my own long shadow stretching across the clouds. My Filipino friend was excited about the snow, which he touched for the first time in his life.

Now I am classified by the Health Ministry in the category of ‘post-advanced age’. I satisfy myself, therefore, with just looking at Mt. Fuji from my balcony. Truly, Mt. Fuji has myriad faces. Sometimes it looks far away, at other times very near indeed. Sometimes it looks gentle and mild, at others, very severe and gloomy. Its colour changes, too, from pure white to light blue, and again to deep red. It is quite impossible to describe all the changes of Mt. Fuji throughout the year. It is no exaggeration to say that we can never see the same mountain twice at any time. Mt. Fuji is truly a wonder of natural creation.

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At home with Fuji

Spring, summer, autumn, winter

For the past four years.

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Spotless like silk cloth,

Mt. Fuji purifies my heart

Through and through.

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Mt. Fuji afloat —

A line of geese above it

Departing in the mist.

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The long rain lifting,

Mt. Fuji emerges from clouds

In its light-blue garb.

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The winter solstice —

Sun drops down to Mt. Fuji

Sinking behind its peak.

8 Responses to “At Home with Mt. Fuji”

  1. thanks for sharing the journey of your infatuation with Miss, or Mrs. Mount Fuji?

    It’s interesting how the tone of the infatuation in the prose subtly shifts to a mood of mystery surrounding Ms. Fuji in the final three haiku. I really enjoyed the images in these final three haiku.

    I also like the line; “I can never forget the sight of my own long shadow stretching across the clouds.” wonderful stuff!

  2. John Dougill Says:

    Thanks you for sharing that. Sacred mountains are uplifting in all senses. I know what you mean by the changing hues because I look out on Kyoto’s Higashiyama, including Daimonji, and each morning brings a surprise. As you say, you can never see the same mountain twice. Gazing at the mountain top seems a wonderful way to be called home in ‘post-advanced age’, whatever that might mean. The image of a line of geese flying over a floating Fuji is one I shall carry off to work with me this morning….

  3. Brings back memories!

    On my VERY first day in Japan, April 29, 1977, we went to the beach in Hayama (near Kamakura) and what did we see …

    majestic Mount Fuji –
    coming out of his covers
    to greet me

    GABI
    (now in Okayama, with Daisen, the Fuji of Western Japan, rather close)

    Mount Daisen, a few days ago
    http://traveloguegokuraku.blogspot.com/2008/04/mount-daisen.html

    .

  4. Thank you. Your prose is concise and full of interest. I feel I want to know unnecessary additional information and suddenly feel embarrassed for even wondering. The “light blue garb” hints at the occasional possibility of an equal vew with such an enormous presence.

  5. The mountain is one of the favourite themes of classic Chinese and Japanese artists and poets. Everything is painted and written about the mountain is full of interest for me. I have been four times to Japan and tried to admire this sacred mountain from far away but this thing happened only for some moments due to the clouds. The haibun written by Nobuyuki Yuasa gives me the impression that Mt. Fuji is in that Japanese landscape I see for some seconds in my imagination again and again. I think the spirit of Basho’s haibun lives through such contemporary works and what we have to do is just composing poetical prose in that spirit.

  6. ‘At Home with Mt. Fuji’ is a wonderful example to us all of what a good haibun looks like – in its gentle understatement, there is a wealth of feeling, a warmth of expression. Its whole essence is poetic without ever ‘waxing lyrical’. In its multiple haiku image ending, we are transported away from the world of words. Haibun knows when enough has been said, and sometimes that’s very little.

  7. So excited to read through the comments, some
    from my old friend!

    thank you, Yuasa sensei, for writing this haibun

  8. What a wonderful place you live!
    Unfortunately I should say goodby to Mt.Fuji within a couple of years to back to Kansai.
    I like Mt. Fuji to watch from Lake Ashino-ko of Hakone.
    The view of Mt. Fuji from the 乙女峠 of Route 1 is impressive, too.
    Furthermore, I am surprised when I continue driving.
    Suddenly a big Mt. Fuji appears in the very front of me when I entered Gotemba.
    Like to dandle an infant, Mt.Fuji give me a “Peekaboo”,

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