100 Views of Mount Fuji: a selection

Katsushika Hokusai, 'South Wind, Clear Sky' (Gaifū kaisei) ['Red Fuji'], a colour woodblock print

Mt. Fuji has a dominant place in the cultural psyche of Japan, both for the people who have lived there, and for those who have come to imagine Japan from a distance. A potent metaphor in classical love poetry, revered since medieval times by mountain-climbing sects of both the Shintō and Buddhist faiths, it is still today a site of pilgrimage; over 100,000 climb its peak every summer.

The enduring popularity of Fuji in the art and visual culture of Japan is remarkable. Fuji was once regarded as an eternal, unchanging symbol, and indeed has not changed its shape radically since its last eruption in 1707, but artists have not ceased to try and represent it in new ways.

The exhibition 100 Views of Mount Fuji (11 May - 29 July 2001) explored a wide range of manifestations of the mountain in Japanese art, as portrayed in 100 works by painters and print designers from the seventeenth century to the present, including Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), Munakata Shikō (1903-75) and Hagiwara Hideo (born 1913).