The impetus for this three-year project began when Steele - Perkins was offered a gift from his Japanese wife of the famous book by nineteenth-century master printmaker Katsushika Hokusai, "36 Views of Mount Fuji". Struck by the verisimilitude of the prints as historical documents of the life of the peoples around the mountain - woodcutters, fishermen, peasants, aristocrats - as well as the beauty and spiritual aspect of the area, Steele-Perkins began to research further.
He found that most Japanese photographers preferred classic images of the sacred mountain where the elegiac perfection of the peak was the focus of the work, in opposition to the approach of the printmaker Hokusai. Steele-Perkins then set out to record a twenty-first century response through the eyes of a sympathetic gaijin.
The ensuing work depicts Fuji as a cultural nexus: a dynamic social phenomenon where tourism, farming, industry, religion, urbanization, locomotion, housing and recreation, traditional ceremony and religion all are framed by the potent national symbol of the mountain. "Fuji", as seen by Steele-Perkins, emerges as a meditation about modern Japan and Japanese life. The exquisite images offer a fresh and surprising view of Japan's iconic mountain, and a keyhole of understanding into Japanese worldview as seen by an outsider who has penetrated its diversity with astonishing clarity, metaphysical insight, and profound complicity.
Size: 10 x 10"
Publisher: Umbrage Editions, Inc. (New York, 2001)