top of page

Text: Wibke Schrape (MK&G)

The Summit

2019: A video and three photographic works from the series


Shingo Yoshida documents and stages a father-son-grandson story in his video work and photo series "The Summit," connecting his own biography with the history of modern haiku poetry and Japan's national symbol – Mount Fuji.


The grandfather was a student of the renowned haiku poet Yamaguchi Seishi (1901–1994) and dreamt of a haiku memorial stone on Mount Fuji. After his death, his son realized this wish in 1974 with the help of the weather station team on the mountain, operating in a legal gray area:

The state, Shizuoka Prefecture, Yamanashi Prefecture, and Asama Shrine all claimed the mountain as their property. But can a mountain sacred in Shintōism and a national symbol truly belong to anyone?

Shingo Yoshida once again ascends the mountain, filming his nocturnal climb, the sunrise from the mountain, and integrates documentary photos and videos of the erection of the haiku memorial stone into his film. Poetic images familiar to even European viewers from Hokusai's color woodcuts blend with close-ups of a typical pilgrimage and stark views of construction equipment, the technology of the weather station, and the celebration of collective success against all conventions.

The video and photos capture both the poetic atmosphere and fascination that viewers inevitably experience when the snow-capped peak emerges from the sea of clouds behind Tokyo and simultaneously document a literary-motivated action that contradicts all clichéd perceptions of life in Japan, dominated by rules and regulations.

The work was acquired for the new collection presentation East Asia for the module "Themes of Japanese Design". Mount Fuji, as a motif and theme, is a primary focus of the space. The series of 36 views of Mount Fuji by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849) was central to the development of the idea of a national landscape in the 19th century. In the 20th century, Hokusai's "Great Wave" evolved into a global icon.

Since the triple disaster of 2011, the image has been increasingly used for nation branding campaigns, but now primarily targeting non-Japanese. Shingo Yoshida's work offers a fresh perspective on the sacred mountain and its treatment as one of the most visited and photographed peaks in Japan.


The work continues the tradition of literary-motivated images of famous places (meisho-e) but also reflects a simultaneously personal and distant view.

● Public Collection

- Photo Series  « The Summit » (Mt. Fuji Japan 2020) 3 photos + Film

Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Germany, permanent loan from Stiftung Hamburger Kunstsammlungen

bottom of page