Red Fuji and Rouged Fuji


Mount Fuji in Deep Summer (July 31, 2012: Lake Kawaguchi, Yamanashi Pref.)

Red (Summer) Fuji

Mount Fuji looks reddish typically in two different ways. In summer, there is a period that the snow settled on Mount Fuji disappears, except for some snow streaks, to expose the surface ground of its upper slope. With the sunlight, Mount Fuji then looks reddish because of reflection, I believe, of rust-red scoria falls that remain deposited on its surface since last eruption occurred in 1707. The forest on the base of Mount Fuji has been recovered naturally in about three hundred years after the eruption but its upper slope still or ever remains bare.

Quite a few of you may know Hokusai Katsushika, a Japanese artist and ukiyo-e painter who lived from 1760 to 1849, and one of his masterpieces entitled “South Wind, Clear Sky” also known as “Red Fuji” (Aka Fuji). If you see Mount Fuji up close in deep summer when it has no snow, you will realize that the redness of his “Aka Fuji” is not an over-exaggeration altogether. Hokusai drew “Red Fuji” in his sixties, and it was about one hundred years after last eruption of Mount Fuji. I believe that it should be the main reason why the forest-line drawn in the “South Wind, Clear Sky” appears somewhat lower than the tree-line of today, putting the presence or absence of the impact from global warming aside.


“South Wind, Clear Sky” by Hokusai Katsushika

Rouged (Winter) Fuji

Rouged Mount Fuji just before sunrise in the winter
(January 22, 2019: Lake Yamanaka, Yamanashi Pref.)

Mount Fuji looks reddish in winter too, and it is called “Rouged Fuji” (Beni Fuji). “Red Fuji” is well introduced to foreigners but often not specifically enough to avoid confusion with “Rouged Fuji”. I say it because there are many people, including Japanese, who do not know the difference between them. At least, I can say that “Rouged Fuji” is less recognized than “Red Fuji”. One reason for this may be that much less number of people travel to see Mount Fuji up close in winter than in summer.

“Rouged Fuji” refers to the state that the snow of Mount Fuji looks pinkish with the reflection of the sunlight. Typically, it can be seen just before sunrise or right after sunset in the winter.

In description of either “Aka Fuji” or “Beni Fuji”, I do not like to use the word “crimson” for “red” or “rouged” being afraid of chances of more confusion. Anyway, I would be very pleased if you remember the meaning of “Red Fuji” and “Rouged Fuji” as “rust-red summer Fuji” and “rouged winter Fuji” respectively.

Although climbing Mount Fuji is normally not possible in the winter, I am sure that you will be impressed by standing lakeside and seeing a 5-minute “Rouged Fuji” show before sunrise in the winter.

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