(click image to enlarge)
In August 1879, Constance Frederica Gordon-Cumming climbed Mount Fuji in the company of ‘a lady as anxious as myself to make the ascent, and a gentleman who had already accomplished it four times’ (‘The Ascent of Fujiyama’, Harper’s New Monthly Magazine, October 1880, page 649). These were probably Emily Jane Forster and William F H Garratt, the names of whom are inscribed on the present watercolour.
Their route from Yokoyama to Fujiyama took in the Otome-Toge, or Maiden Pass, which is considered one the best spots from which to view the mountain. However, on their outward journey, the vision of Gordon-Cumming and her companions was obscured by ‘close gray mist which clung around us as a pall’ (page 650); so it was only on the return journey that she was able to produce this watercolour, and demonstrate quite how magnificent the view is.
Gordon-Cumming’s account of her ascent, published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine in 1880, is informative about the geography of Fujiyama and sensitive to the practice of the Shinto pilgrims who reverenced it.