Thursday, January 26, 2012

Mighty Symbol of Japan

courtesy of merne72 Flickr
Thursday January 26, 8:40 p.m.

I was watching the NHK Morning News at 7 p.m. tonight (tape delay and Tokyo is 14 hours ahead of us), and the first shot was of a breathlessly happy reporter showing the world's most beautiful mountain (from a distance at least) atop a hill in Arakawa Ward, Tokyo. It's a common tactic by the media there to show the weather is cold, crisp and clear. But I had to stifle some laughter when the reporter was telling how frozen he was outside with the temperature at -0.8 degrees C. Zero degrees over here in Toronto is just plain balmy...time to do that windsurfing on Lake Ontario.

Mt. Fuji... meteorological bellweather, tourist must-see and dream catcher. It's said that if one's first dream of the New Year is Mt. Fuji, then fortune will just glare at you. Of course, most people usually end up dreaming of either more sake or aspirin during the first 3 nights. I don't think anyone has ever told me that they had actually seen Mt. Fuji in their dreams.

Japan's tallest mountain is also a popular target for the young and hardy. Hundreds of climbers endure the 9-hour walk up Fuji on New Year's Eve so that they can see the sun rise on the morning of January 1st. Mind you, for some of them, seeing what they'd had for dinner the night before on the side of the mountain path is probably more common...altitude sickness (kousanbyou) is a perennial plague on the way up. In both situations, plenty of tears are shed.

There is also another weather phenomenon for the folks in Tokyo, known as "Diamond Fuji" during the Winter where the sun sets directly behind Mt. Fuji. Not sure if that is also a harbinger of good luck generally, but I'm sure a lot of photographers may think that. And if the folks at Paramount ever needed to shake up their logo...