I'm fascinated with Japanese culture, the stoic zen that its people are branded.
This image was printed sometime in the early 1830s and is one of a series of 36 wood prints in a series called '36 views of Mt. Fuji' where, as you guessed it, Mt.Fuji featured in each.
Why this image struck me I wasn't immediately sure. Bold blue and creamy whites. It's a picture of boatmen encountering bad weather, or maybe it's a Tsunami? (our mind wanders to that thought given Japan's history and that the word Tsunami itself being gifted to our vocabulary by the Japanese). And, of course there is Mt. Fuji.
But pausing for a moment to go deeper I start to identify what's captured my attention and why I'm enchanted by this image as a reflection of what I admire about zen & stoicism.
Look at those fishing boats, featuring in the image knotting into the swell of the ocean.
Look at the ferocious wave.
See at the splendorous Mt. Fuji the icon of Japan since the beginning clearly recognisable, but here a mere splash or two of ink in the overall frame.
See the cloudless sky.
Now fix on the fishermen.
Everyday we are sent into the world to make our way, to harvest our fish. And if there was a stormy weather we might choose a different activity to occupy our day, but we can see that today the weather is clear so we will harvest fish from the ocean.
Then, the ocean with its unpredictability happens upon us a giant wave, threatening to rise up, to swallow our boats to drown us and to end us.
But we know the ocean can be unpredictable, and we build our boats strong and in this moment, when the wave is striking and we are not given notice, when there is nothing to be done to prepare more and we see the safety of our home land is but a mere spot on the horizon. What can we do?
Cry out? Jump overboard? Try steer the boats to land? Try to swim to safety of land? All arguably natural and instinctive reactions.
But our artist tells us what's best and that is to set our craft directly into the wave where is is best placed to cope, take firm hold, have faith in our craft, our knowledge of the ocean and silently endure the moment.