Mt. Fuji, Hokusai, Murakami and Tech

June 23, 2020 By mk

In 2013, Murakami wrote; When I was a child, I read a story of men; one of them was a smart man who just saw Mt. Fuji from several angles and convinced how the mountain looked marvellous and left. Very efficient. However, the other man who is not so smart could not understand easily, and climbed to the top and exhausted, but realised what Mount Fuji was. The novelist (at least, most of them) is like the latter kind.

I was reminded of the above when I read the news on Fugaku Supercomputer is ranked as the world’s most powerful one and performed at 415 quadrillions flops (41.5 KEI flops).

KEI in Japanese has multiple meanings; “10 quadrillion number” and “view”. The supercomputer was named “Fugaku” as its target speed was 100 KEI (1,000 quadrillions) flops after the paintings of Hokusai’s (1760-1849) “100 Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku 100 KEI)”. Fugaku is an old name of Mt. Fuji.

Fugaku hyakkei (One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji) by Hokusai Katsuhika
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The more famous painting of Hokusai is 36 views of Mt. Fuji (Fugaku 36 KEI), one of which is “The Great Wave.” The supercomputer Fugaku now performed 415 petaflops (415 quadrillions = 41.5 KEI) and has exceeded 36 KEI flops (360 quadrillions).

The Great Wave

In 2018 interview with New Yorker, Murakami said “I’ve always fascinated by caves. I’ve visited numerous caves during my travels around the world. The Mount Fuji wind cave is one of them.”

One of the wind caves at Mt. Fuji

In “100 Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku 100 KEI),” Hokusai painted the exhausted men who climbed up the mountain, as Murakami wrote in 2013 and the cave, as mentioned in 2018.

Fugaku hyakkei (One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji) by Hokusai Katsuhika
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Isn’t it interesting that such labyrinthal topic over art, technology and literature blurs the boundary of reality and fiction in daily lives, as Murakami’s novels do?

The supercomputer will be used for Covid-19 research. I wish the epidemic will go soon, and you can come to see how the mountain looks like with your eyes.