Eat your heart out Hokusai.

Among the great waves of bad news this year is that Japan’s majestic icon Mt. Fuji was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, an unlikely company took this as an opportunity to step in and fill the void in the heart of the Fuji-inaccessible county.

On 29 June, snack maker Lotte released The Mount Fuji Bar, which is an ice pop made in the image of Japan’s highest peak. So, instead of going there, the mountain can come to you in a lovely combination of white soda and blue soda flavors.

But to see if this popsicle really lived up to the legacy of its name sake, I decided to put it to the test and recreate Hokusai’s legendary ukiyo-e series The 36 Views of Mount Fuji. Assuming such an ice bar ought to be large and strong, it should also be sturdy enough to be taken on a whirlwind tour of downtown Osaka from the Umeda Sky building to Osaka Castle.

▼ Approximate route

Along the way I’d take images of Japan’s natural beauty and daily life as Hokusai did centuries ago. However, instead of Mt. Fuji being in the background of each image, it’d be in the foreground – kind of a new twist on an old classic.

This would not be easy, however, the midday sun was merciless and it was to be a long journey. To make matters worse, the only store that sold these things was two kilometers (1.2 miles) from my start point, so right off the bat it had already suffered some significant melting.

So, without wasting any more time, here is the set of photographs put through an ink filter to capture that Hokusai feel, and to cover up the fact that the ice bar was out of focus most of the time. I had to move fast and couldn’t stand around fiddling with the camera.

36 Views of The Mount Fuji Bar

1 – Inside the Package

The package itself is adorned with The Great Wave off Kanagawa which was an auspicious way to kick off this project.

2 – Unpackaged, Clear Morning

After a long hike with the bar it showed some early signs of melting. The surface was slick and wet and the corners were somewhat rounded.

3 – Upside Down

Sorry, still getting set up. Just bear with me…

4 – Beneath Umeda Sky Building

Okay, here we go! Two icons in one picture, what more can be said really.

5 – Under Umeda Sky Building Floating Garden

The top of this building is really quite interesting, but they wouldn’t let me in with my melting popsicle.

6 – Turtle

It looked easily agitated so I dared not get too close.

7 – Japanese Garden

A beautiful backdrop for The Mount Fuji Bar.

8 – Tanabata Decorations

It was a very nice coincidence that the Tanabata festival is in a few days, so decorations were already being set up.

9 – Mazda Showroom

A nice little Roadster, and who’s that figure in the window? A ninja? A genius fashion model out and about town? Just one of the many mysteries of Japan I guess…

10 – Osaka Mural

This wall painting highlights some of Osaka’s many special features such as okonomiyaki and the Saint Louis University mascot.

11 – Very Hot and Sunny Path

Only ten pictures into this series and things were starting to turn sour. The Mount Fuji Bar was dripping all over my hand at an increasing rate.

12 – Grand Front Osaka

Being stuck at a red light gave me a moment to notice this nice reflective building.

13 – Red Light

However, the red light went on for a ridiculous amount of time and The Mount Fuji Bar as fading fast. I took a few bites to try and control the melting, I’m not sure why I thought that would work, but I was getting desperate.

14 – Giant Green Bear Spitting Water Fountain

I don’t know what this is but I had to hurry and needed pictures.

15 – Escalator that Michael Douglas Runs Down in Ridley Scott’s 1989 Film Black Rain, Just Before Andy Garcia Gets His Head Cut Off

Spoiler alert I guess… It’s a 31-year-old movie for crying out loud.

16 – Trains of Osaka Station

As you can see, tragedy struck. The remnants of The Mount Fuji Bar began sliding off the stick after the whole thing had been melting all over my hand and down my arm most of the time. I felt like a kid again, but not in a good way.

Anyway, just as it seemed the ice was about to fall off, I shoved the rest of the slushy mountain into my mouth.

17 – Garbage Can

I thought it was all over when I realized that a lot of the ice candy had melted all over my hand. In that way, Mt. Fuji was still with me, so it still counts as a view.

18 – Stained Shorts

They say when you climb Mt. Fuji, it leaves its mark on you. This is true with The Mount Fuji Bar as well, especially on your clothes.

19 – Pokemon Center

Your one-stop shop for everything Pokemon in Osaka. I wouldn’t be allowed inside due to being heavily covered in melted Mt. Fuji.

20 – Downtown

A typical scene of downtown Osaka. However, the remaining The Mount Fuji Bar on my hand was beginning to dry.

Even worse I was still very far from my intended goal of Osaka Castle, but I wasn’t too far from the one store where I bought the original bar. So, I decided to swing by and pick up another one since they were only 100 yen (US$0.93) anyway.

21 – Mount Fuji Reborn

Luckily this time I could head out directly from the store, so this new The Mount Fuji Bar was much colder and stronger than the previous one. I figured it ought to get me the rest of the way.

22 – Osaka City Hall

Where the powers that be in the city work. The position of Mt. Fuji here is the same as where that big metal fist with “2025” once sat as a loving tribute to Osaka’s eternal fondness for kitch.

23 – Nakanoshima

The City Hall also sat on Nakanoshima, which is a very scenic sandbar in the middle of the city. Actually this spot is right about where the recent Black Lives Matter march started.

24 – Osaka City Central Public Hall

A lovely piece of architecture on Nakanoshima. Also, The Mount Fuji Bar appeared to be holding strong.

25 – Bridge View West

Thirty-six is a lot of pictures…

26 – Bridge View East

There were some seagulls flying around and I was hoping to catch one in this shot. But it didn’t happen.

27 – Osaka City Central Public Hall Steps

At about this time I was feeling a little hot and hungry so I took a tiny lick of The Mount Fuji Bar. That proved to be a huge mistake as it completely compromised the structural integrity of the bar and the melting quickly began.

28 – River View

If you look closely, you can see a big blue drip hanging of the bottom of The Mount Fuji Bar. It was all unraveling fast, and I needed to keep moving.

29 – Vending Machine

Does it get any more Japanese than Mt. Fuji and a vending machine?

30 – Convenience Store

Same could be said for convenience stores.

I chose to immortalize a Lawson in my historic art series since that was the chain where I found The Mount Fuji Bar.

31 – Kawasaki Bridge

Osaka Castle can be seen in the distance. I was very close, but The Mount Fuji Bar was melting fast and starting to wobble on its stick.

32 – Tunnel Under Train Tracks that Smelled Like Pee

Time was of the essence and I chose this dodgy looking tunnel littered with empty beer cans to cut through rather than go the long way around. However, to do this I would have to drag my bike up and down these steep ramps while also holding the increasingly delicate The Mount Fuji Bar.

33 – Disaster

After emerging from the other end of the tunnel disaster struck. The white soda snow cap of The Mount Fuji Bar had fractured from the vibrations and simply fell off.

What was left of the mountain wasn’t going to last long and there were still a few hundred meters to go until the castle. At this point I was too far from the only store around here that sold these things, so I would have to hurry. No more pictures; I just needed to ride.

34 – Osaka Castle

With only a few precious moments to spare I got as close as I could to the castle keep to get this one image. It wasn’t as close as I had hoped, but I could tell that The Mount Fuji Bar wouldn’t have made the rest of the trek.

With this I took a final bite to mark the end of my journey.

35 – Sticky Handle Bar

However, after all that melting The Mount Fuji Bar continued to haunt me, especially on my handle bar which was covered in the stuff. At least there weren’t any hornets around.

36 – Double Fuji Stained Shorts

And so once again The Mount Fuji Bar left its indelible mark on my soul and my shorts. And there it shall remain until my wife complains of the smell.

So, what did we learn from all this?

First, Lotte is selling popsicles that kind of look like Mt. Fuji all over Japan. However, when they say “all over Japan” they really mean in obscure little pockets of the country that are really hard to find unless by chance.

Then there’s the fact that traffic lights in Osaka take a obscenely long time to change and are not at all conducive to ice-candy-themed time-sensitive art projects. Also, if you want to keep an ice pop solid for as long as possible, do not take even the slightest lick until the time is right.

▼ Resist the urge

But the most important lesson here is that I am clearly a much greater artist than Hokusai. I mean let’s face it, I did in a few hours what took him two years to accomplish, and he didn’t even have to deal with melting food or vicious turtles. I also think that, were he alive to see me at work with the almost latest in smartphone technology, he’d agree that I was a superior being, provided he didn’t kill me for being an evil wizard first.

So, it is with great humility that I accept my self-proclaimed title of “The New Hokusai,” and so can you! Just find The Mount Fuji Bar for yourself and start snapping before it melts.

Photos ©SoraNews24
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