Mount Fuji – Kubota’s inspiration
Mountains hold a special place in Japanese religious and cultural beliefs, and none more so than Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain (3,776 meters) and the country’s spiritual and cultural icon. It is the most sacred of the Sanreizan (three holy mountains) in Japan and has been the object of pilgrimages for hundreds of thousands people over the centuries.
Fuji, an intermittently active volcano that erupted last in 1707, is a dominant presence in the region and its exceptionally symmetrical and often snow-capped cone can be seen from many kilometers away on a clear day. Its elegance and beauty are captivating, and it is not surprising that it has served as the inspiration for artists and poets over the centuries.
Itchiku Kubota was among those artists who fell under Fuji’s spell. To him, Fuji was a sacred symbol that revealed new qualities each time he saw it. That point of view no doubt influenced Kubota’s decision to establish his museum where the mountain could be seen daily, sometimes reflected in the lake near the museum, sometimes towering over the landscape in all its solitary magnificence on a cloudless, sunny day, and sometimes invisible, shrouded in cloud-cloaked mystery.
This series of eleven kimono, intended to be shown as a series but each also conceptualized to stand alone as well, were the result of Kubota’s fascination with the mountain as well as by his ambition to convey the beauty of nature in a way that no one had done before. Possibly he was influenced by French Impressionists such as Claude Monet in his determination to capture the mountain in its many moods, at different times of the day, and at different seasons, but each work retains its own unique character in which Kubota’s sense of nature and the play of light and form are paramount.
Mount Fuji – Kubota’s inspiration – by Dr Jacqueline M. Atkins, Collection Curator