For the second time in its history National Geographic Traveler went to Your Shot, National Geographic’s photo community, to find the cover image for its June/July Issue: The Trip That Changed My Life. The community submitted nearly 19,000 photos for consideration, and 15 images made it to the final story.
One image rose to the top, an image nearly a decade in the making, by longtime Your Shot member Takashi Nakazawa.
Nakazawa is from Tokyo, Japan, and fell in love with Mount Fuji when he first visited it seven years ago. Since then, he's traveled to the mountain almost every single weekend, amassing an estimated 70,000 photos. He often makes the drive from Tokyo in the dark of the night, and stops at a nearby mountain, lake, or road, and sleeps in his car until dawn, his favorite time to photograph the mountain.
One glance at his profile makes his love for the mountain clear: In every season, time of day, and at great distances, Nakazawa has developed a series that resembles a portrait series rather than a landscapes series.
Nakazawa's hundreds of trips to photograph Fuji might lead to the assumption he has summited the mountain—a popular tourist activity in the area. “I never thought about climbing up it,” he admits. “I cannot hike Mount Fuji because then I cannot take a photo of Mount Fuji.” When he puts it that way, it makes perfect sense.
Nakazawa says he hopes that he can portray the beauty of Mount Fuji to make people around the world happy, and inspire them to visit themselves. He believes that by visiting, they will find the spirit of Mount Fuji and in turn understand the country itself. "Mount Fuji is very simply a symbol of Japan," he says.
Know Before You Go: Nakazawa will tell you that any time of year is a great time to visit, and while this is true, peak times to visit are July and August for climbing, or in the spring for hanami, the tradition of viewing of flowers during cherry blossom season. Though nature is always hard to predict, early morning will usually be your best shot for getting a clear sky to view the mountain, as well as cooler months.
If you are visiting Tokyo, a two-hour drive will get you to Mount Fuji if you are looking to climb. You can make it to Hakone in about an hour, a popular spot for viewing Mount Fuji, and you can make a day of it by visiting the town's art museums and onsen, or hot springs. Lake Yamanaka is another popular spot for viewing the mountain, about a 90-minute drive from Tokyo. Or visit Arakurayama Sengen Park if you are looking to replicate Takashi's winning image.
Our next contest is coming to a close soon! Submit your best photos for a chance to win up to $10,000 and be named the Travel Photographer of the Year. Submit by May 31, 2018.