Life as art and art as life in Mount Fuji

This weekend, I’m in the countryside, living a Travelife in a beautiful villa surrounded by mountains and valleys. You can’t hear much else except for the chirping of crickets, which is very soothing.

I was reminded of my house at the foothills of Mount Fuji — and the fact that I haven’t been there in a very long time, since I’ve been so busy on a never-endingly eventful Travelife.

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However, on one of my last visits to this house, I took a couple of friends from Manila to stay with me for a long weekend.

Weather-wise it was a rather crazy weekend.

Friday night it was cold enough to actually get some of the winter clothes out. Then all-day Saturday, I had the infrared heating on as it was raining and the temperature hovered around 7 degrees.

And then on Sunday, it was a very warm 26 degrees as I drove out of the Fuji lake area back towards Tokyo, in preparation for my return back to Manila.

Talk about extreme weather in a matter of hours — but then, again, nothing too extraordinary for my never-endingly eventful Travelife, whether it’s the weather or other things.


A visit to my house in Mount Fuji always gets me thinking about art.

Maybe this is because my main library is here, and it’s filled with years of collecting art books as well as 20 years of Architectural Digest back issues.

My two vices when shopping abroad are bringing back rare coffeetable books and interesting foodstuffs — and most of my coffeetable books are in my Mount Fuji home.

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The surroundings are pretty picture-perfect too, in terms of nature.

Nothing fancy, mind you.

But then, you don’t really need fancy where nature is concerned.

Manila friends who’ve been here liken this general area to some beautiful forest areas outside San Francisco where some Filipinos have second homes.

Anyway, it was pretty rainy that weekend, so we stayed in for the most part.

I made a pretty nice paella and assorted tapas for lunch one day, and then we spent the rest of the afternoon watching DVDs.


I have a really eclectic selection of DVDs here to satisfy practically anyone’s tastes and the shortlist that came up after everyone had had a look included:

1) All About My Mother, a Spanish movie directed by the legendary Pedro Almodovar
2) The Shooting Party, a period film from the UK about the life of the aristocracy in England just before the First World War
3) The latest season of Curb Your Enthusiasm by Larry David
4) Gosford Park, an excellent American film about a murder during a house party at a grand house in the UK in the 1930s (my personal favorite)
5) Both seasons of the BBC sitcom Extras (my second choice)
6) The Diary of Bridget Jones


I’m sure you will agree that these alone represent a very eclectic selection from my DVD library, although there’s a lot of UK stuff because I tend to buy most of my DVDs when I’m in London, since there’s such a good selection there.

Anyway, we took a vote as to what we should watch — I would have chosen Gosford Park or Extras — and Bridget Jones won.

It was actually a very good choice for a laugh on a rainy Saturday morning in Mount Fuji.

When the rains cleared a bit, some people took a walk outside towards the lake or the golf course.

Meanwhile, as I hadn’t been up to my Fuji house for a while, I decided I just wanted to relax inside.

I took a bunch of old issues of Architectural Digest and curled up in my living room, enjoying the visual treat of looking at beautiful houses that were also beautifully photographed.

I’ve been thinking of doing some minor renovations on my Manila home for a couple of weeks now, and looking through Architectural Digest back issues just gave me lots of inspiration.


One of the most enjoyable articles was a series of interviews with the famous international art collector and dealer Eugene Thaw, who is based in New York and who made a very significant donation to The Morgan Library & Museum.

I’d loved reading his feisty Q&A interviews when they first came out in Architectural Digest — he certainly minced no words and names, and he had very strong opinions about art, artists and art collectors.

He’s very much against fashionable trends in art and people following the herd, and also against people who create art that can’t co-exist harmoniously with life.

He spoke out very courageously against some very popular international artists who create shocking installations that make many people uncomfortable and then sell these for a fortune.

Anyway, this made me feel like visiting a couple of galleries in Manila this week, and looking at some beautiful paintings.
This also made me think about a lot of things only indirectly related to art.

For one thing, it reinforced my desire to live with art — to surround myself with what is aesthetically pleasing — and to live life as art.

What exactly does it mean to live life as an art?

The brilliant but tragically maligned author and poet Oscar Wilde once said that life is your art; you set yourself to music and your days are your sonnets.

I guess he meant that you create the life you want to live, and that inevitably becomes reality. Your life begins as a blank canvas or composition sheet and you are your own artist.

Thinking about this now, while writing this blog amidst surroundings so similar to my beloved Mount Fuji, we wish everyone a wonderful lifetime of truly amazing travels.