Fuji’s ashes

The last eruption of Mount Fuji was in year 1707. Three meters of ashes fell at the foot of the volcano, but darkness filled the sky of Edo as well. The streets ended up being covered with a carpet of 3 to 4 centimetres of ash. I am thinking of it while watching this boat about to slip under Nihonbashi. « Kilometre Zero » point of the Tokaido, this ancient bridge (crossing the river at the back of the photo) plays such an important role in Japan’s history and iconography. On the scale of Japan’s history, has the post-war period of economic development then financial bubble not just had a similar impact as Fuji’s eruption? Nature and culture were covered with a grey coat, often sterile. In Tokyo for example, rivers and canals, as well as a number of large avenues were covered by one or two layers of motorways. Without judging because contexts and constraints cannot be compared, let’s imagine the river Seine, the Pont St Michel and the Notre Dame square covered with a suspended crosroad. Less spectacular, there is this magnificent pine tree found by chance. It may have been painted for the scene of a Noh theater, but now looks half concealed by a pile of motley objects. The good news, however, is that nature and culture are not always far away. One just has to scratch the surface to make them visible again, and be in a position to admire their beauty, provided one adapts his/her gaze so as not to be obsessed by the scars of the post-war period, which may sometimes be reversible. That’s what I am aiming at …

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