Mt. Fuji Photographer, Known for Shooting Peak under Strange Clouds, Brings Grief with Early Death

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Photos taken by Makoto Hashimuki hang at the Sumpu Museum in Shizuoka in November.

SHIZUOKA — A photographer known on social media for his spectacular photos of Mt. Fuji is sorely missed after he died suddenly at age 46.

Shortly before his passing on Nov. 4, Makoto Hashimuki gave a talk at his photography exhibit in Shizuoka, in which he spoke passionately about the charms of Mt. Fuji.

Visitors to the exhibit, which is filled with stunning photos, have since expressed their sorrow at his early death.

Hashimuki, a Shizuoka native, started his work with landscapes taken on a basic cell phone, which he then posted to social media. In 2013, when Mt. Fuji was listed as a World Heritage Site, he began to devote himself more fully to photography, focusing on the mountain as his main subject.

He gained fame in 2021 after he posted a photo of Mt. Fuji with a huge hat-like cloud over the peak.

His work was featured on a U.S. news program and became a topic of conversation worldwide.

His photo book “Shinki,” which means “mysterious presence” or “divine charm,” published the same year, was also well received. He made many TV appearances and had more than 120,000 followers on Instagram, where he posted pictures exclusively of Mt. Fuji.

Hashimuki speaks at the Sumpu Museum on Oct. 22.

Hashimuki was always checking weather reports and live footage from around Mt. Fuji on his smartphone to take his pictures.

When he thought he could get the shot he wanted, he would rush out as he decided where to take the picture, tracking the clouds as they moved over the mountain. He honed his knack for composition over 10 years.

The exhibit is being held at the Sumpu Museum in Shizuoka. Wataru Sugiyama, deputy director of the museum, recalled Hashimuki saying at the gallery talk, “If I analyze weather conditions and other factors, I can see when a moment of wonder will come.”

Hashimuki fell ill in Gifu Prefecture, where he was visiting, and died suddenly from a stroke.

He had a wide circle of friends through his work capturing Mt. Fuji. A member of the popular music group Shonan no Kaze, who was a fellow photographer, mourned the loss on social media, writing, “Being able to take pictures like Hashimuki-san is all I can do to repay him.”

After Hashimuki’s passing, notebooks at the exhibit were filled with heartbroken messages such as, “There was no other photographer like him,” and “I remember him every time I see Mt. Fuji.”

Fellow photographer Riki Tamura, 36, an office worker in Yokohama, recalls, “While he was always strict with his photography, he had a cheerful personality that brought a friendly atomosphere.”

The exhibit features some 30 works, the fruit of his last 10 years’ labor. They include Hashimuki’s signature photo of Mt. Fuji capped in a hat-like cloud.

Admission is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is ¥500 for high school students and older, while younger visitors get in free. The exhibit runs through Sunday.