Fujiyama by Johannes V. Jensen
Translated by Elias Bredsdorff
The richest experience I ever had was at sea off Japan; I remember
no real event since then. I awoke early in the morning, before
sunrise, because the wind blew gently into my cabin, and because in my
sleep I was so brimming over with joy that I could not remain lying
there. When I looked out of the open port-hole, high in front of me
was a sort of beautiful cloud—but it was not a cloud, it was
That wonderful mountain towered above the whole world; it did not
seem to stand on the earth, for the mountain was so far away that its
foot merged into the blue thickness that made the Japanese sky. But
above the sky itself the white snow-cone of the mountain broke through
the atmosphere, airy and light as a cloud, so that instantly I grasped
both the vast density of the globe and its weightless flight in space.
It was as though the earth itself confronted me in all its cosmic
freshness, the young planet spinning its way out of the darkness,
crowned by the aurora borealis with its beautiful sea-blue sphere and
the multi-coloured soil of the continents lit by the sun.
What I felt on that occasion was the same primitive experience
which one can have as a child at the first sight of anything, a straw,
a drop of rain on the window-pane. Afterwards, when acquired ideas
have made childhood into the lost country and created illusions of
another, nobler, reality than the one we see, then a remoteness and
strangeness, a sublime surprise are needed to give back the earth its
When I saw Fujiyama my last illusions of another existence than the
one which IS, were shattered. I understood that the higher world
towards which we aspire can only be the one which IS, but that we have
never at a given moment attained to it, that we are ordinarily blind
to it. No more fruitful thought than that can exist. This,
fundamentally, is the only thing a man can experience.
Therefore Fujiyama is a holy mountain, the object of worship for a
Columbus! There is only one happiness which is eternal: to see
again this blessed earth.