Poem in Praise of Mount Fuji


Poem in Praise of Mount Fuji

calligraphy / Edo

By Sakuma Shozan (1811-64)

Edo period, 19th century

Ink on paper


This calligraphic work was written by the Edo-period thinker Sakuma Shozan. The subject is one of Shozan's own works, Poem on the View of a Mountain. The mountain referred to here is Mount Fuji.

The poem uses classical Chinese to extol the wonders of Mount Fuji from several angles. It begins with the protagonist climbing to a beautiful, high place and surveying the view from there. It continues thus:
'When viewing Mount Fuji, one's mind is filled with joy and one's worries are forgotten; it presents the same beautiful profile no matter where it is viewed from; from its soaring heights, one can even gaze down on the sun; the gods of the land seem to have gathered their treasures on Mount Fuji.'

Shozan was born in current-day Nagano prefecture. He was a scientist as well as a thinker and he learned about circumstances overseas while studying in Edo, as Tokyo was formerly known. He was interested in maritime defense and he advocated research into Western military methods, including artillery. He set his sights on the wider world and was an active proponent of trade and overseas expansion. This poem extolling Mount Fuji seems imbued with his strong feelings for Japan.

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