The global award in photography and sustainability

Chris Steele-Perkins

These are ten images from my book Fuji. The project was shot over a four year period, and all of these images are from 2000 and 2001.

The work considers the place of Mount Fuji, the iconic symbol of Japan, in our modern times, and references the works of the great Japanese artists, Hokusai Katsushika and Utagawa Hiroshige, whose series of woodblocks, 36 Views of Mount Fuji, were a record and commentary on Mt Fuji in relation to the society of their times; the early to mid 1800′s. The images were constructed in a way that Fuji was ever-present, ‘observing’ the landscape and society around it, a discipline I have continued.

Nowadays, Mount Fuji is a national park but it is covered in, or surrounded by, theme parks, golf courses, resorts, cities and scrap yards as well as being used as a military testing ground by both the Japanese and American armed forces. At the same time there are still magical areas of great tranquillity, but they are increasingly being eroded.

The book is not a polemic, but can be seen as a commentary on modern Japan and the erosion of natural beauty in the name of progress. As such, I think it is important that we attend to issues of sustainability and the environment that do not only look at the grand issues of global warming, over population, water shortages and mass migration, but also pay attention to the insidious incursion of environmental decay and despoliation taking place within the supposedly ‘safe’ environments of the developed world. As a National Park, and one aiming for inclusion as a UNESCO World Heritage Site by 2012, Fuji should be free from environmental abuse. Indeed, it should be an outstanding model of sustainability and good ecological management.

My Fuji photographs ask questions around this issue.