The Beautiful, Constant Change of Mount Fuji
Specimen Notes from the Mini Museum: Mount Fuji Lava
Mt Fuji from Shinkansen (Source: Jun Seita Flickr)
a day with Mount Fuji unseen:
Matsuo Bashō (1644–1694)
At 3,776 meters, Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. Yet, the modern Mount Fuji is actually three volcanoes in one: Komitake, Ko-Fuji, and Shin-Fuji. Over the course of the last several hundred thousand years, each volcano formed out of the remains of the last with Shin-Fuji becoming active roughly 10,000 years ago.
Cross-section of Mount Fuji and related volcanic piles (Source: “Evolution of Mount Fuji, Japan: Inference from drilling into the subaerial oldest volcano, pre-Komitakeiar_722 470..488”)
Shin-Fuji (New Fuji) went through several stages of development which included massive basaltic flows covering large areas to the north, west and southwestern foothills. The stratovolcano’s symmetrical cone has served as an inspiration for artists for centuries and more recently for scientists studying the geometrical evolution of volcanoes.
The shape of a volcano is primarily determined by hydraulic resistance to the flow of magma in a porous medium. Mount Fuji in particular is considered an ideal example of the model. You can read more about this model here.
日本語: 天子山地の竜ヶ岳から望む御坂山地と青木ヶ原、右中央に西湖 English: Aokigahara, Misaka Mountains and Lake Sai seen from Mount Ryu of Tenshi Mountains, Japan.
The view from Earth Embassy Solar Cafe and Organic Farm
In 864 CE, lava from a massive eruption of Mount Fuji filled part of ancient Lake Senoumi, creating Lake Sai, Lake Shōji, and Lake Motosu. Pictured above, the fertile land left behind became the Aokigahara Jukai or “Sea of Trees”. This tranquil region also has the unfortunate distinction of being known as the Suicide Forest.
The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from a local stone cutter near the Aokigahara. For five generations, this family has produced sculptures for Buddhist and Shinto Shrines around Mount Fuji. It was provided by a friend of Mini Museum who owns a cafe and bed and breakfast just outside the Aokigahara with a spectacular views of the mountain (pictured here).
Mini Museum Intern Max creating Mount Fuji slices in the summer (so warm!)
Preparing the Specimen
Preparing the Mount Fuji Lava Specimen began with extracting thin strips of lava from the main mass using a wet saw.
While quite dense, the rock crumbled easily so further reduction is a slow, step-by-step process.
Like every specimen in the Mini Museum, Mount Fuji had it’s own challenges. We're very happy with the final results and we am still thinking of the deep history of this mountain.
Preparing Mount Fuji Lava Specimens from the slices
The Mount Fuji lava specimen originally appeared in the Second Edition Mini Museum, but we are excited to now offer it as a standalone specimen as well!
Not only that, but we also have polished material available as a beautiful bracelet with beads crafted from the 1707 Hōei eruption.
"From around the age of six, I had the habit of sketching from life. I became an artist, and from fifty on began producing works that won some reputation, but nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive. May Heaven, that grants long life, give me the chance to prove that this is no lie."
Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849)
Fine Wind, Clear Morning 凱風快晴 by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849)
富嶽三十六景 or Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji is one of the artist’s most famous series of landscapes which feature Mount Fuji from many different angles and in different seasons. We've selected the image above to share in this update, but we encourage you to look closely at all of the prints in the series. We found ourselves almost forgetting the mountain entirely as it drifted into the background of scenes from every day life. The people in these works feel absolutely alive against the amazing backdrop of the mountain.