Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji

From Bwtm

This page is about Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849)


Shichiri beach in Sagami Province 相州七里浜 Soshū Shichiri-ga-hama

36 Views of Mount Fuji Shichiri-ga-hama Suruga Province Koshigoe village on Enoshima Island in Sagami Bay by Hokusai 43miles east of summit of Mount Fuji


This print is one of a few in the Fuji series in which no human figures appear. In Japan this kind of print or painting is called ‘pure landscape,’ differentiating it from landscapes with human figures. Here, Shichiri, the Seven-League Beach, is viewed from an angle that conceals much of its rolling dunes and sparse cactuslike plants. Stretching between Kamakura and Fujisawa, it is a well known pleasure resort. In this asymmetrical composition, the coastal promontory runs in a curve from the land at right into the Pacific Ocean at left. Beyond it appears the snow-covered Mount Fuji. At the bend of the beach is a village with houses covered with thatched roofs, probably Koshigoe. The island of Enoshima, a noted pilgrimage site for devotees of Benzaiten (Cat. 32), is visible at the far left in the ocean. The cumulonimbus clouds rising over the horizon indicate the season is summer. Hokusai also created Dutch-inspired prints, studying Western-style perspective (Kondö 1966, fig. 8, p.10), one of which is also entitled Enoshima. The both are seen from a similar angle, the curve of the beach on the left of the picture. In this print, however, Hokusai modified and personalized it by introducing the village of Koshigoe, and by emphasizing the tree at the tip of the cape. The colors are limited to green and shade of blue, giving an impression of a clean and fresh landscape. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 67. Cat. 18) *************** A popular destination for excursions outside Edo, Shichirgahama, or “Seven League Beach,” is shown here curving into the sea, with the island of Enoshima off the coast to the left. Cumulonimbus clouds (done in a Western manner) accent the sky, their pristine whiteness echoed by the snow on top of Mount Fuji. Many of the prints in the Thirty-six Views were first issued entirely in shades of imported Prussian blue, while a later edition of this print adds green accents for the vegetation. Hokusai’s monochrome landscape prints were probably inspired by woodblock-printed painting manuals introduced from China, such as the seventeenth-century Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting. Chinese painting techniques were most evident in Japan in the literati mode of landscape painting (nanga), which was practiced by a wide variety of artists during Hokusai’s time. Here Hokusai adeptly blends Japanese and Chinese painting styles with Western elements to create a convincing portrayal of “water and mountains” (sansui ), the literal Japanese term for “landscape.”

This print belongs to what is thought to be the first group of five designs in the series, done originally entirely in shades of Berlin blue. Shichiri-ga-hama, 'Seven-League' Beach, lies in the foreground with Mt Fuji seen past the island of Enoshima in the middle-ground. Cumulonimbus clouds rise on the horizon, suggesting summer storms, and yet Fuji is well covered with snow.

Colour woodblock oban print. One of two views from series, part of first group of five designs printed in Berlin blue. Shichiri-ga-hama in foreground, Enoshima with massive trees and houses in Koshigoe village in middle-ground, Mt Fuji covered by snow in distance; cumulonimbus clouds rise on horizon. Trimmed on all sides except right. Inscribed, signed and sealed.

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Sazaidö at the Five Hundred Rakan Temple 五百らかん寺さざゐどう Gohyaku-rakanji Sazaidō

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Gohyaku Rakanji Sazaidō 62 miles from Mt. Fiji in Honjo by


Colour woodblock print. Temple of the Five Hundred Arhats (rakan), in Honjo. Nishiki-e on paper. Inscribed, signed and sealed.

The long lines of handsome kasuri kimonos worn by two women viewing Mount Fuji add contrast to the rather plain temple balcony where they stand. The art of kasuri was introduced to Japan from the Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa) in the seventeenth century. When Japanese warriors of the Satsuma clan invaded and conquered Okinawa in 1609, they brought Okinawa's famed ramie textiles back to Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima prefecture) as tribute. Many of them were made by the kasuri technique, thus planting the seeds of this intricate dyeing process in mainland Japan. Kasuri fabric making was well developed in the Satsuma region by the mid-eighteenth century, and by Hokusai's and Hiroshige's time, it had spread throughout the country. Kasuri designs decorated humble indigo-blue working clothes of common people everywhere. (from “Blue and White” textiles exhibition 8/28/2008-) - - - - - - - - - - While Hokusai often portrayed people performing their daily tasks and too busy to look at Mount Fuji, in this print he focuses on those who took the trouble to come to this famous viewing spot for the sole purpose of admiring the mountain. They stand on the veranda of the Turban-shell Hall (Sazaidö) of the Five Hundred Rankan temple, a structure that appears to be built to extend out over the river. Men and women are deeply moved, for a moment, by the beauty of Fuji rising in the distance against the blue sky. To the right of the mountain is Honjo, famous for its many lumberyards with stacks of lumber rising above the riverbank (cat. 42). At the right, a couple of pilgrims who climbed to the high veranda with a lot of luggage sit exhausted, for the moment without the energy to appreciate the beautiful mountain. The Five Hundred Rankan Temple belongs to the Obaku sect of Zen Buddhism. It was first constructed in Honjo during the Genroku period (1688-1703). Build in three stories, it was a high building at that time, when most houses were only one story. After several reconstructions and relocations, it now stands at Shimo Meguro. The Five Hundred Rankan, a group of legendary elders of the Buddhist faith, had attained enlightenment (nirvana) by their own efforts, for example, by meditation. The temple is dedicated to all five hundred of them. The Turban-shell Hall contained a hundred images of bodhisattvas-enlightened beings who have chosen to remain on earth to help others, rather than ascend to paradise. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 77. Cat. 28) ***************** Here Hokusai uses Western perspective to great effect, drawing the viewer’s eye to Mount Fuji in the center of the composition through the triangular arrangement of people in the foreground, which creates a series of diagonal lines all directed toward the volcano. Most of the people in the print have their gaze fixed on the mountain in the distance. To the right of Mount Fuji, the lumberyards of Honjo, also depicted in another print on display nearby, can be seen. Two pilgrims pause before admiring the view to unload themselves of the portable shrines they carry on their backs. At the far left, the green bundle is marked with the sign of Eijudö, the publisher of the Thirty-six Views series. The combination of pilgrims and the Eijudö mark is common in this series, and may result from the fact that the owner, Nishimura Yohachi, was himself closely associated with the Fuji Cult. Rakan, the Japanese transliteration of the Sanskrit term arhat, were disciples of the Buddha who themselves also attained enlightenment. Although a core group of sixteen rakan is standard, groups of five hundred or more are also common.

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Sumida River

The Circular Pine Trees of Aoyama

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Cushion Pine at Aoyama 59 miles from Mt. Fiji Garden of Rikugien

Cushion Pine at Aoyama (Aoyama enza no matsu), from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei) Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, Tokyo (Edo) 1760–1849 Tokyo (Edo))


Hokusai depicts Fuji from the garden of Ryüganji, a Zen temple also famous for its fantastic pine tree. With its enormously outspread branches, the canopy of this tree looks like a gigantic green cushion; thus it was called the Cushion-pine. Some branches were over 42 feet long and could not bear their own weight, so they were supported by stilts. Each branch and its pine needles are executed in minute detail. In front of the pine are picnickers. A father and son walking hand-in-hand climb the hill to where two men are already seated on a rug, enjoying themselves and drinking sake. Ryüanji was located in present-day Harajuku 1-chome, Shibuya ward, a posh center for young people. The Cushion-pine was mentioned in an Edo guidebook. Töto Ichiran Musashikö (Kondö 1966, no. 8). Hokusai's chief intent here is to depict this spectacular tree. By combining Fuji and the Cushion-pine, he appealed to people's interests. He carried this intent throughout the series. The secret of Hokusai's success in the Mount Fuji series is that he combined the beloved mountain with scenes of famous sites people had heard about and wanted to see. The enormous pine could have posed a direct competition to the mountain if seen against Fuji. Hokusai solved this problem by placing the tree off-center in the lower right, so that Fuji's long left flank runs parallel to the long cascading branches. The key-block was printed in blue.

Hokusai often combined his views of Mount Fuji with depictions of famous places in Edo and stations along the major roads throughout the country. In this way, he was able to appeal to a wider audience who would buy the prints not only because of their views of the volcano, but also as souvenirs for travelers both to and from the capital. In the late Edo period, there was a dramatic increase in the production of travel books and related publications, including woodblock prints, spurred by a growing interest in travel. This print depicts Mount Fuji from the garden of Ryüganji, a Zen temple in modern Shibuya. The temple was famous for its massive pine tree, which had branches so large some of them had to be supported with bamboo stilts. The resulting appearance resembled a gigantic green cushion; thus it was called the Cushion Pine. Hokusai’s fondness for minute details is seen in execution of each branch and its pine needles, and in such features as the legs and broom of a groundskeeper just visible in the lower left. In front of the pine are picnickers enjoying themselves while drinking sake.

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Climbing on Fuji Shojin tozan

36 Views of Mount Fuji Climbing on Fuji Shojin tozan by #Hokusai Mt. Fiji is 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft) high


Unlike the other prints from the series, which portray Mount Fuji from a distance, this image depicts the very top of the sacred mountain, with pilgrims arriving at Fuji's breathtaking summit after an exhausting climb and making their way toward the mountain's grottoes for worship.

Colour woodblock oban print. Final design of series. Pilgrims in white jackets making way to cave on Mt Fuji at sunrise: some bracing themselves with wooden staffs as clambering over rocks; others pausing to rest and huddling together in cave.

Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art is the first major exhibition of its kind devoted to the impact of Buddhist pilgrimage on Asia’s artistic production. It highlights approximately 120 objects of importance and extraordinary quality, including sculptures, paintings, prints, ritual implements, photographs, and maps.

Enoshima in Sagami Province 相州江の島 Soshū Enoshima

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Enoshima in Sagami Province dedicated to the goddess Benzaiten 43 miles from Mt Fuji


Enoshima is a small island lying off Kamakura on the Pacific coast, some 35 miles south of Tokyo. It attracted large numbers of pilgrims, who visited a temple there that was dedicated to Benzaiten, the Buddhist female deity of long life, good fortune, and victory in war. Seen from a high position on the mainland, Hokusai depicts the island’s large temple compound. The tiny pilgrims, some riding horses led by men, some carried in a palanquin, and some on foot, are crossing a sandbar at low tide to reach the island. The approach to the temple is marked by two stone lanterns, one on each side of the entrance to the compound, where steps lead to the main building of the temple. Fuji is visible across the water on the right side. Bubbles in the water at low tide are indicated with numerous tiny white dots, showing the technical excellence of the printing. The composition, however, suffers because of Hokusai’s excessive interest in minute details, resulting in a lack of main composition focus. The key-block was printed in blue. The publisher’s and the censor’s seal are visible in the lower right corner. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 81Cat. 32) **************** The small island of Enoshima off of Kamakura is famous for its temple dedicated to the goddess of good fortune, Benzaiten. It was an important pilgrimage site during the Edo period, and pilgrims can be seen crossing from the mainland on a small strip of land that became dry during low tide. The temple complex lies beyond, with a pagoda rising in the background. The stacked roofs of the pagoda on the left balance the triangular form of Mount Fuji on the right, providing the print with a sense of balance that is enlivened by the diagonal line of the crossing. Enoshima was a popular subject for ukiyo-e artists, including both Hokusai and Hiroshige. Prints like this would have served as souvenirs for pilgrims and other travelers to the greater Edo area. Hokusai’s use of many tiny dots to render both the forest and the receding water recalls pointillism, a Western painting technique developed in the 1880s in which tiny dots are combined to form a picture. It also evokes traditional Chinese brush techniques. In his efforts to study and incorporate a wide range of styles, Hokusai foreshadowed the increasing globalization of artistic styles that resulted from increasing international trade in the late nineteenth century.

Enoshima: the picturesque island

Enoshima Jinja Shrine

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Fujimigahara (“Fuji-view Fields") in Owari Province 尾州不二見原 Bishū Fujimigahara

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Fujimigahara in Owari Province cooper applying varnish to barrel 150 miles from Mt Fuji


This print is best known for its bold, interesting composition that uses simple geometric forms. In the foreground, a huge tub is being made; inside it, a man works intently at sealing its seams. A tiny Fuji appears in the far distance, framed in the circle of the tub and across a plain of rice fields. Setting aside his usual interest in minute details, Hokusai here composes a design with only a few elements: bushes, a tree, the gigantic tub, the cooper with his tool box, saw, and hammers. The tub’s circle is repeated by the circular split-bamboo strips for hoops, lying on the ground. The small triangle of Mount Fuji provides a contrast in shape and size. Rows of rectangular rice fields connect the two. Though blue, greens, and gray are used, the yellow-green smoothly applied in the foreground dominates. The key-block was printed in blue. Geography was not one of Hokusai’s keen interests. It has been pointed out that Bishü, in present-day Owari province, some 150 miles west of Fuji, does not offer a view of the mountain. Hokusai paid no attention to this matter in his title for this wonderfully innovative print, which does not show any identifiable topographical features (Kondö 1966, no.10). (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 64. Cat. 15) ***************** Despite Hokusai’s use of the name “Fuji-view Fields,” Owari Province (in the western part of modern Aichi Prefecture) is approximately 150 miles away from Mount Fuji, and there is no view of the volcano from this remote location. Hokusai’s inclusion of this province in the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji is therefore a mystery. As early as 1812, Hokusai published a painting manual advocating the use of basic geometric shapes as a foundation for artistic compositions. This print, with its bold circular barrel in the center, rectangular fields, and triangular Mount Fuji just visible in the distance, is an excellent example of the technique. While Hokusai was probably aware of Western compositional principles from sources such as Kömö Zatsuwa (Things in the West) published by the late Edo novelist Morishima Chüryö, he also foreshadowed many developments in nineteenth century European art, and Hokusai’s emphasis of geometric forms resembles ideas proposed by later artists such as the post-Impressionist Paul Cézanne (1839-1906).

Print shows a cooper applying varnish to the inside of a large, bottomless barrel, with distant view, through the barrel and across a field, of Mount Fuji.

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Reflection in Lake Misaka in Kai Province 甲州三坂水面 Kōshū Misaka suimen

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Mount Fuji reflects in Lake Kawaguchi Kai Province 8miles north of the summit of Mt Fuji

Mount Fuji reflects in Lake Kawaguchi, seen from the Misaka Pass in Kai Province


The reflection of the mountain is the key motif in this print. Hasui's image (HAA#29104) focuses on the movement of water and light, which is clearly a result of his mastery of Western techniques. Meanwhile, Hokusai's reflection is clear and still. Hokusai's reflection depicts a snow-covered Mount Fuji, yet the real mountain above is bare. Hokusai appears to be attempting to show both faces of this famous and sacred mountain. (from Nostalgic Japan exhibition 6/8/2005-) - - - - - - - - - Mount Fuji, with its steep pitch toward the summit, rises behind a village of houses with brown-thatched roofs. The woodlands, indicated by dark green vegetation, expand to the lower foothills and mountains. Before them lies Lake Kawaguchi, its smooth, mirrorlike surface reflecting Mount Fuji. The approaching small boat might disturb the reflection. Misaka Pass lies at the north side of Lake Kawaguchi. Mount Fuji, seen from the north beyond this lake, presents a different look with its rugged surface. This print seems to show the rougher character of the mountain. The reflection of Fuji in this print is of course not true to the laws of optics. Here, Hokusai seems to have wanted to show both of Fuji’s faces – the snow-covered gray mountain commonly remembered or imagined by most people as well as the rugged brown Fuji as it appears in reality beyond the lake. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 89. Cat. 40) ********************* Lake Kawaguchi (here called Lake Misaka after nearby Misaka Pass) is shown perfectly still, undisturbed by even the small boat in the lower right. A mirror image of Mount Fuji is reflected upon its surface. However, upon close examination it becomes evident that the volcano and its reflection are not in fact the same. Looking at Mount Fuji from the north, its rough surface is revealed, here devoid of the usual snow covering its peak. On the other hand, the reflection shows an idealized view of the mountain, capped with snow and without any imperfections as its smooth surface extends into the lake. Hokusai seems to suggest two different aspects of the mountain, one with a strong physical presence, and one that is otherworldly, a spiritualized “true form” of which the uninitiated can catch but a rare glimpse through this print.

Colour woodblock oban print. View from Misaka Pass looking down on Lake Kawaguchi in summer or early autumn: Tan-coloured Mt Fuji with white summit, deep cleft in slopes and craggy triple-peak; reflection of Mt Fuji in lake with more covering snow.

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The Great Wave off Kanagawa (神奈川沖浪裏 Kanagawa-Oki Nami-Ura

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai most famous The Great Wave off Kanagawa est 50 miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


Together with Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit (cat.8) and Mount Fuji at Dawn (also known as Red Fuji, cat. 7), this print, better known by its short title, Great Wave, is one of the three best-loved compositions in Hokusai’s Fuji series. Nature’s enormous power is vividly portrayed in the great wave and ingenious composition as both profoundly beautiful and chillingly threatening. It is no wonder that the Japanese as well as people everywhere recognize this print as a world-class masterpiece. The print depicts three boats tossed by the wind and gigantic, towering waves. The boats somehow stay afloat, their crew crouching in the scuppers. Snow falls against the gray sky and over the blue waves. Snow-covered Mount Fuji rises serenely in the distance, far from the turmoil of the breaking waves. Hokusai contracts the power of a merciless nature and the helpless humans subjected to it. Hokusai, who worshiped Mount Fuji, made numerous studies of it using Western perspective in some, a technique he learned from Dutch prints (see, for example, cat. 9, 27, 36 and 42). Finding the pure Western style unsatisfactory here, he adapted it to traditional Japanese style. He placed the horizon exceedingly low. At the same time, he used elements of Japanese decorative style: the reduction of details to only three elements, the waves, boats, and mountain; the extremely close foreground that places the viewer right before the great waves; and the powerful lines that emphasize the forms of these enormous breakers, which seem to spread their tentacles as if to seize and consume everything in their path. The simple color scheme is limited to white and two tones of berorin blue, gray, and brown. As in all ukiyo-e prints, the icy crests of the waves and the snow are reserved areas showing the uninked paper. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 55. Cat. 6) ************************* Together with Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit and Mount Fuji in Clear Weather (also known as Red Fuji ), this print, better known by the abbreviated title Great Wave, is one of the three best-known designs in Hokusai’s Fuji series, and is an iconic emblem of Japanese art. The massive wave menaces three vulnerable boats with cowering fishermen. In the distance looms Mount Fuji; its snowcapped form resembles the white foaming waves, while its stillness stands in striking contrast to their violent movement. The dynamic composition creates a tension between human frailty and the power of nature. Humanity seems humble and insignificant when juxtaposed against the powerful and destructive natural forces represented by the wave. The print makes use of Western perspective, with which Hokusai had, by this time, been experimenting. The French composer Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was so inspired by this design that in 1905 he composed the groundbreaking La Mer (The Sea) to honor it. The first edition of the score had (at the composer’s request) a stylized detail of Hokusai’s print on the cover.

The breathtaking composition of this print ensures its reputation as a masterpiece; the great wave in the foreground is knowingly juxtaposed with the tiny Fuji in the hollow of the wave's angry crest. The clawlike wave heads that threaten to crash down upon the three boats conjure up images of mythical dragons. Like the helpless boats, Mount Fuji too appears on the verge of obliteration.

Evolution of Hokusai's "Great Wave".

  1. When he was 33 (1792).
  2. When he was 44 (1803).
  3. When he was 46 (1805).
  4. When he was 72 (1831).

Hakone Lake in Sagami Province 『相州箱根湖水』 - Soshu Hakone kosui

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Hakone Lake in Sagami Province (now Lake Ashinoko) 18 miles SE of the summit of Mount Fuji


Lying to the east of Fuji, the mountainous region near Hakone, with peaks of nearly 4000 feet, was the most difficult area for travelers on the Tökaidö Road. In the 20 miles between the Odawara and Mishima stations, the road rose and fell, passing Lake Ashinoko at a high altitude and also Hakone station. In 1618, a checkpoint (sekisho) or barricade was established at Hakone to inspect travelers, especially women and young maidens, who underwent stringent identity checks. The shogunate was especially concerned about preventing the wives and daughters of local daimyö from escaping Edo, where they were obliged to reside as virtual hostages under the policy of alternate attendance (sankin-kötai). This required the daimyö to spend a year in Edo at the court, then a year on his own lands – but his family had to remain in Edo as surety for his loyalty. To pass the checkpoint, both men and women had to show their travel permits, a kind of passport issued by their village or town officials. In this print, the deep blue waters of the high Lake Ashinoko lap the rounded hills of yellow-green. To the left of the brown mountain, Fuji, covered with snow, looms against the blue sky. Its perfect conical shape contrasts with the rolling shapes of the surrounding region. The Hakone shrine is at the right. The composition is one of only a few works with no human or animal figures. The overuse of decorative clouds somewhat impairs the dynamic views of the site. The key-block was printed in blue.

Unlike the soft coloration of the aizuri print, this image dazzles with its bright, clear tones and brilliant light effects. Hokusai makes use of the cloud form common to traditional Japanese prints, the suyari gasumi, as a framing device to draw attention to the mountain.

Lake Ashi (芦ノ湖 Ashi-no-ko?), or Hakone Lake, Ashinoko Lake, is a scenic lake in the Hakone area of Kanagawa Prefecture in Honshū, Japan. It is a crater lake that lies along the southwest wall of the caldera of Mount Hakone, a complex volcano. The lake is known for its views of Mt. Fuji and its numerous hot springs. A number of pleasure boats and ferries traverse the lake, providing scenic views for tourists and passengers. Several of the boats are inspired by the design of sailing warships.

Onshi hakone Park

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Hodogaya on the Tōkaidō『東海道保土ケ谷』 - Tokaido Hodogaya

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Hodogaya on the Tōkaidō present day Yokohama 49 miles east of the summit of Mount Fuji


Hokusai’s distinctive design shows unique shapes of pine trees functions as though they are lattices in the composition. Between the trees, a small Mount Fuji is visible in back. It is a great effect to attract people’s eyes. Hasui’s Matsushima scene (HAA# 19223) is similar in term of the arrangement of trees. The contrast beteen dark green of pine leafs and the fresh blue of ocean makes this attractive print. Hasui’s Kaiganji Beach print (HAA#19207)is considered to be a variant from his Matsushima print. Hazy scenery in the background and focused view of the tree’s roots emphasizes their lively power and beauty of nature. (from Nostalgic Japan exhibition 10/18/2004-) - - - - - - - - - - - Mount Fuji is viewed through the screen of tall, angular pines lining the road in Hodogaya along the Tökaidö road. In the foreground are typical travelers often seen on major highways: from the right, a traveling minstrel with a deep bamboo hat that covers the face, a pack-horse rider led by a groom, and a woman in a palanquin (kago) carried by two bearers, who have set it down to rest for a moment. One bearer ties his sandal, and the other dries his sweat. No one but the groom is interested in Mount Fuji; the others are completely absorbed in what they are doing. Trees, often pines, lined these main roads to protect travelers from the sun and wind. Neighborhood people maintained the roads; in return, they were allowed to take leaves and fallen branches for fuel. The horse and rider appear identical to those in volume one of the Manga, Hokusai’s sketchbooks. This is another example of how Hokusai’s serious study of all sorts of forms rewarded his efforts – he could use them at will. The use of the screen of trees to look through at the distant view creates interesting compositional tricks. On one hand, it pushes the background farther away, but at the same time it pulls it closer to the viewer. Hodogaya was the third station from Nihonbashi Bridge on the Tökaidö Road. In modern times, the station has been swallowed up in the gigantic city of Yokohama, but then it was an inconspicuous fishing village. The color scheme is typical of the Mount Fuji series, with a minimum numbers of colors – two shades of blue, two kinds of greens, and a pinkish brown. By distributing these colors evenly in the composition, Hokusai creates a balanced decorative pattern. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 90. Cat. 41) ******************** Once a small fishing village, Hodogaya is now a part of Yokohama. Like the other main highways of early-modern Japan, the Tökaidö (“East Sea Road”) was lined with trees (pines in this case) to protect travelers from the elements. The horse to the right bears a saddle with the mark of Eijudö, the publisher of the Thirty-six Views series. The use of the pine trees as a screen between the viewer and the background creates a visual ambiguity that makes Mount Fuji seem at once more removed and yet also more prominent. This composition is derived from an illustration in the woodblock printed book One Hundred Fujis published in 1768 by Kawamura Minsetsu, who sketched various views of the volcano during his travels. Hokusai borrowed frequently from this and other sources, following a common practice of taking inspiration from (and copying) precedent artworks that was well accepted in the Edo period.

Woodblock made ca. 1930 exactly the same way as they were made by artisans ca. 1830. The skill and the care are the same. There is a drawing or a copy of it coming from the artist. Then the woodcutter and the printer take over. Their skill varies. Hokusai once wrote to one of his editors that he was not happy with one of the woodcutters. In the case of the new cuts of the 36 views of the Fuji, only experts can distinguish the many versions - mainly by differences of the frame around the script.


Travellers on road lined with pine trees at Hodogaya: foot-traveller on far right with itinerant monk, deep sedge hat and bamboo flute, gazing at roadside stone image of deity carved into rock-face of hillside; palanquin bearers resting to mop brow and re-tie sandal; man leading horse pointing herding stick towards Mt Fuji in background.

Clark 2001Hodogaya was the fourth post-station on the Tokaido Highway, heading west out of Edo. After Hodogaya, the traveller would climb the incline of Gonta-zaka towards the border between the provinces of Musashi and Sagami at the top. Kobayashi suggests that the location here is the decline slope of Shinano-zaka on the other side, where aged pine trees lined the road (UT 1975, no. 36). Certainly the foot-traveller on the far right, heading east towards Edo, looks to be commencing a climb. He wears the distinctive apparel of an itinerant monk ('komuso'), face all but obscured by a deep sedge hat and a bamboo flute ('shakuhachi') pushed through his sash. Half cropped by the right side of the sheet can just be made out a roadside stone image of a deity - perhaps Fudo with his sword held vertical - apparently carved into the rock-face of the hillside. The monk's face is tilted upwards, presumably to gaze at this. The other travellers and the horse show evidence of their recent exertions over the hill, the palanquin bearers resting to mop a brow and re-tie a sandal. The only one admiring the view of Fuji is the man leading the horse, pointing his herding stick towards the mountain like a teacher at a blackboard. As seen several times before in the series, the trademark and seal of the publisher, Nishimuraya, are insinuated into the design, here as the motifs on the horse-blankets (The pattern on the blanket that passes under the horse's belly looks to be the stylized character 'ju' from Eijudo and on the cloth above the tail is the triple-tomoe trademark).Two shades of green enliven the rhythmical clusters of pine needles; dots of moss jump out of the bark and branches; above all, the swaying poses of the pine trees seem almost to turn them into a line of animate beings, graciously parting in the middle to show us Fuji. Now the shapes of the clusters of pine needles start to look like Fuji-shaped clouds filling the sky. The horse with its drooping head and tail, and the rider, with his white hat like snow on his summit, don't they combine to form another, animate Fuji in the foreground? Hokusai constantly set up these formal resonances within a composition.One early variant seems to be to have lime green on the foreground road, the grass on the hillside on the right and the foothills of Fuji (MOA 1982, no. 36). Also in the British Museum collection is an impression from the later, black-line printing of the design, with gradated orange on the horizon and black slopes of Fuji (1906.12-20.0534). All the grassy areas in the foreground are printed in pale green, rather than the Berlin blue seen here.

Hodogaya, one of the well-known fifty-three stations of the Tōkaidō road, is located between Musashi, the province in which Edo was located, and Sagami Province to the west. At this point, westbound travelers were said to have finally felt the sensation of having put the metropolis of Edo behind them, for at Hodogaya the road stretches into a beautiful avenue lined with pine trees on both sides. When one travels on foot along a course near a big mountain, one has the feeling that progress is slowed by the overwhelming immobility of the mountain that seems to be eternally watching. This sensation is lyrically expressed in this print. Fuji's immobility is emphasized in contrast to the gentle rhythm of the row of pine trees and the crawling pace of the travelers.

The Tōkaidō (東海道 East Sea Road?) was the most important of the Five Routes of the Edo period, connecting Edo (modern-day Tokyo) to Kyoto in Japan. Unlike the inland and less heavily travelled Nakasendō, the Tōkaidō travelled along the sea coast of eastern Honshū, hence the route's name.ōkaidō_(road)

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Asakusa Hongan-ji temple in the Eastern capital [Edo] 東都浅草本願寺 Tōto Asakusa honganji

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Asakusa Hongan-ji temple Edo with kite 65miles east of the summit of Mount Fuji


Asakusa was the most populous district in Edo in Hokusai’s time. Its streets were crowded with stores where busy merchants and craftsmen lived and vigorously plied their trades. One of the district’s landmarks was the enormous Asakusa Honganji Temple, built in 1657, which belonged to a branch of Kyoto Higashi Honganji, the headquarters of Buddhism’s Eastern School of the Pure Land (Jödo) sect. Begun in the Late Heian period (late eleventh century), the Pure Land sect quickly gained a large following. It had one simple, compassionate teaching – that enlightenment (salvation) could be attained not through the study of sutras or observation of complicated rituals, as required in other sects, but simply by sincerely calling Amida’s name. In the Edo period, this teaching spread, and Pure Land became the largest Buddhist sect, with large temples all over Japan. In this composition, Hokusai brought the temple building so close to the foreground that only the triangle of the roof’s pediment is visible. Looking down, one can observe the sea of roofs of smaller houses, over which decorative clouds float. Mount Fuji, above them, repeats the roof’s shape. Hokusai’s dramatic compositional scheme enlarges the temple roof to an enormous proportion, dwarfing houses and the mountain. On the temple’s steep roof, workmen are busy making repairs. Their exaggerated, precise postures are drawn from studies Hokusai made of form and movement, which culminated in the publication of his sketchbooks, the Manga. The towering structure at the left is a scaffold rising over a well excavation. A kite indicates that the season is winter, most likely New Year’s day. The windy days of winter are best for flying kites, the symbol of the new year. Pale pink in the cloud and the kite enlivens a monochromatic blue print. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 65. Cat. 16) ************** Mount Fuji is seen from an improbably high perspective beyond the roof of Honganji Temple, an important Pure Land Buddhist temple built in 1657 that served Edo’s most populous district of Asakusa. The roof of the temple has been cropped so that its pediment appears massive in the lower right corner, dwarfing the workmen perched precariously near the top. The roof echoes the triangular shape of Mount Fuji in the distance, while its heavy form is balanced by the delicate scaffolding on the left. Hokusai favored the technique of juxtaposing Mount Fuji with a similarly shaped architectural element seen from a cropped high perspective, and used it several times in the Thirty-six Views, with an especially close composition found in View of the Mitsui Stores at Surugachö in Edo. In addition, both prints place kites at their center, suggesting the festivities of New Year’s Day and the related symbolism of Mount Fuji for this holiday.

Print shows the peak of the roof of the Hongan-ji Temple at Asakusa with a kite flying through the clouds and a view of Mount Fuji in the distance.

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The Inume Pass in Kai Province 甲州犬目峠 Kōshū inume-tōge

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Inume Pass in Kai Province 26.5miles Northeast of the summit of Mount Fuji


Fuji is viewed from the hillside of Inume Pass on the Köshü Road connecting the city of Köfu, in what is now Yamanashi prefecture, and Edo (present-day Tokyo). On the gentle slope at left, two travelers walk in front of two horses laden with cargo. Ahead of them, two more men ascend the steep hill. Fuji, covered with heavy fog at the base, looms against the pink sky. Its long, red-brown flanks reflect the sunlight, and the mountain’s upper reaches are blue toward the summit, where snow covers the cap. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 63. Cat. 14) ****************8 In the foreground, travelers ascend Inume Pass on the Köshü Road between the city of Köfu, in what is now Yamanashi Prefecture, and Edo (present-day Tokyo). The small figures are seen from a distance, making the focal point of the composition the peak of Mount Fuji. Although many of the prints in the Thirty-six Views that include human activity show Mount Fuji standing in the distance as a symbol of stability and protection, others take an opposite approach, emphasizing the ever-changing nature of Mount Fuji under varying weather conditions and in different seasons or times of day. Here the volcano rises through a thick layer of fog, changing to brown and then blue before reaching the snow-covered summit. The green and yellow rolling hills of the pass on the right provide a counterbalance to the form of the mountain placed slightly off-center to the left.

Print shows travelers and porters with two horses climbing the Inume Pass, with view of Mount Fuji in the distance.

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Dawn at Isawa in Kai Province 甲州伊沢暁 Kōshū Isawa no Akatsuki

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Dawn at Isawa in Kai Province travelers depart 20miles North of the summit of Mount Fuji


Isawa is a small town on the Fuefuki River just east of Köfu (current Yamanashi Prefecture). In the Edo period, Isawa was a station on the Köshü Road, a major highway leading from Edo to Köshü and Lake Suwa. Hokusai depicts the town with many inns and restaurants for travelers, some of whom are already on the road before the sunrise, while others in front of the inns are getting ready to leave. With the key block printed in black, this is one of the prints showing the “back” of Mount Fuji (ura-Fuji ) that are thought to have been made as supplementary images to the main thirty-six views. As in many prints from this series, Hokusai implies a comparison between Mount Fuji and the immortal island of Mount Hörai from Chinese mythology by showing the volcano from a distance, separated from the human world by dense mist, with the promise of the sunrise in the red-tinged sky around it.

The print depicts morning in a village near a river. Some travelers are already on the road, and others, in front of inns, are getting ready to leave. Foretelling the sunrise, Fuji stands against the pink sky, a red light on its summit, while its main body is still black. The river and the road are also dark, dotted by yellow circular straw hats. Although the composition is ordinary, crowded with too many people and houses and lacking a strong focal point, Hokusai handles nature’s light changes superbly. Isawa is a small town on the bank of the Fuefuki (literally, flute-playing) River on the Köshü highway that connects Edo and Köshü (present-day Yamanashi prefecture) and Lake Suwa. In this print the Fuefuki River is seen behind the village, heavily covered by the morning mist. On the right side, a bridge is beginning to be visible. The key-block was printed in black.

Colour woodblock oban print. View of Mt Fuji from north at dawn at Isawa: Travellers in deep round hats crowding road and making preparations for early departure: loading pack-horses and shouldering carrying poles; Fuefuki River behind inns, crossed by bridge on far right.

As the sun rises on the horizon, flushing the sky with a soft pink haze, travelers depart for a long journey. Passing through dark streets and past houses shut to the early-morning sky, the entourage slowly winds its way toward the bridge that will deliver them across the river toward Fuji.*&deptids=6&who=Katsushika+Hokusai&pos=16

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Kajikazawa in Kai Province 甲州石班沢 Kōshū Kajikazawa

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Kajikazawa in Kai Province fishermen 19miles Northwest of the summit of Mount Fuji


This print is one of Hokusai’s most successful and evocative designs in the Fuji series. In its simple composition, with only a few elements, Hokusai presents the close interaction between natural forces and fragile, yet durable men. The pounding waves and wind-driven rain seem mercilessly cruel to humans, but at the same time, these forces also provide man with a way of life when he is determined to survive. Fuji rises in the near distance, revealing its summit through thick fog. Standing in the river on a rugged rock washed by the turbulent waves, a fisherman casts his net lines. His determination to make a good catch is expressed in his posture – foot firmly gripping the rock and body bent to hold the lines. His little son, sitting on the rock below him, tends the fish basket. They exchange no word, but they are perfectly united in their dangerous endeavor. As with most of Hokusai’s great designs, this composition is organized by a simple geometric principle: repetition of similar forms in varied locations. The left slope of Fuji is mirrored in the line created by the form of the large rock, the child’s head, and the bending body of the fisherman. The right slope of the mountain is repeated by the net lines. The waves repeat the triangular shape of the mountain. This print shows a typical basic color scheme of blue. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 69. Cat. 20) Together with the related print Great Wave, this is one of the most effective compositions ever designed by Hokusai. It is dominated by a diagonally jutting rock that rises from the left over the rough waters of the Fuji River. The line of the rock is continued by a fisherman standing determinedly on its edge, and by the left slope of Mount Fuji, culminating in the summit at the top of the print. The fisherman’s lines rise at an opposing angle, matching the right slope of the volcano and the posture of the young boy who crouches over a basket below the man. The tension of these two opposing diagonals is gradually eased through the sweeping lines of mist beyond the river, until it is finally resolved in the serene horizontal bands of clouds in the sky. This is an early aizuri-e (“blue printed picture”) impression printed entirely in imported Prussian blue. Later impressions add green for the rock and brown for the figures, reducing the seamless continuity between human and natural elements that makes the design so remarkable.

Print shows a fisherman fishing from a rocky outcropping above waves, with view of Mount Fuji in the background.


Fisherman casting lines into fast-flowing Fuji River at Kajikazawa; beside him small boy with basket seated on rock; peak of Mt. Fuji above clouds.

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Fuji Seen from Kanaya on the Tōkaidō 東海道金谷の不二 Tōkaidō Kanaya no Fuji

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Fuji Seen from Kanaya on the Tōkaidō 50miles Southwest of the summit of Mount Fuji


The print depicts travelers crossing the Öi River, which separates Kanaya on the western bank and Shimada on the eastern bank. Because of its swift current, the Öi River was considered the most difficult obstacle for travelers, even more difficult than the steep Hakone Pass. The river frequently flooded, and there was no bridge across it. Hokusai’s earlier interest in the traditional decorative style of the Rimpa school helped him create this beautiful dramatic design with humans struggling to cross the rapids. The undulations of the waves are marked by white foam breaking in curved stripes, and the smaller currents within them are delineated in fine lines. In the chest-deep water, travelers ride piggyback on coolies’ shoulders, while some have their palanquins carried across on a ladderlike platform held up by a huge group of porters. At the far left, a garment box covered with a cloth inscribed with characters saying kotobuki (happiness) is being carried over; it belongs to a bride who will wed a man across the river. Despite the static patterning of the rapids, the travelers’ and coolies’ struggles are eloquently conveyed. Across the river is the dike. Its embankments are made by piling up long bamboo baskets filled with gravel. The town of Shimada is visible through the opening of the dike. Fuji rises over the dike. This print shows the delightful decorative tendency that Hokusai inherited from centuries of Japanese tradition. The key-block was printed in black. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 99. Cat. 50) ************************** The view here is from Kanaya toward Shimada, two stations on the Tökaidö (“East Sea Road”) connecting Kyoto and Edo. Travelers cross the Öi River, one of the most difficult obstacles on the route. The river frequently flooded, and could become impassable for several days. In addition, there was no bridge across the river as a military strategy to prevent enemies from crossing in times of war. Ordinary travelers are shown carried on porters’ backs, while wealthier patrons hire entire teams to carry their palanquins and luggage. Some of the travelers bear the mark of Eijudö, the publisher of the series, on their bundles. The prices charged by porters varied with the depth of the river and the weather. The design of the waves, significantly different from that used in Great Wave, is reminiscent of Hokusai’s earlier prints experimenting with Western chiaroscuro shading and perspective. At the same time, it also shows the influence of the traditional Japanese Rimpa School, with which Hokusai associated himself during his Söri period (1795-98).

The vibrant, stylized design of this print, particularly the turbulent play of color and line used to compose the river and the travelers crossing it, threatens the integrity of the monochrome mountain beyond. The rhyming and analogizing of form and color that figure so prominently in Hokusai's style are virtually absent from this image of explosive color and line.

Print shows porters carrying litters, sedan chairs, and individual persons across the river near the Kanaya station on the Tōkaidō Road, with view of Mount Fuji in the distance.

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Fuji seen through the Mannen bridge at Fukagawa 深川万年橋下 Fukagawa Mannen-bashi shita

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Fuji seen through the Mannen bridge at Fukagawa 64miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


This simple frontal view of the Mannen Bridge admirably expresses the grand monumental character of the bridge. Indeed, as though it were the subject of a portrait, the bridge commands our attention with an impressive sense of dignity.


In this print Fuji appears in the far distance, viewed from under the Mannen Bridge in the Fukagawa district of Edo (Tokyo). The Manen Bridge crossed a small river that flowed into the Sumida River, visible in the middle distance. The composition owes a clear debt to Western perspective, with the gradual diminishing in size of buildings and other objects as they recede in the distance. The perspective is not, however, consistent, but reflects an imperfect borrowing of a foreign system of composition. The view of Fuji seen in this print is characteristics of many of the images in the series, in which the famous mountain appears almost as an afterthought. Hokusai produced this representative series of landscape prints when he was in seventies. It seems that various artistic training, his knowledge of literature and culture and creativity are all culminated in this period when he was using his artistic name Hokusai Iitsu (literary means “Complete with one stroke.”) from 1820 to 1833. (from Hokusai & His Students exhibition 1/30/2007-) - - - - - - - - - - This print depicts the beautiful arch of the Mannen Bridge (Ten Thousand years Bridge), which spanned the Onagigawa River, a small stream that flowed into the Sumida River in the Fukagawa district of Edo. Here the Onagigawa flows under the bridge to join the Sumida, shown as a horizontal dark area in the middle ground beyond the bridge. On the far bank of the Sumida is a long row of houses and shops. Beneath the tall arch of the bridge, Fuji rises at left of center, dark blue in the distance. Hokusai had experimented with a similar design showing Fuji under an arched bridge (Kondö 1965, fig.6). There, closely following Western-style perspective, he crowds the picture with numerous elements. The design obeys the principles of perspective but seems too rigid, lacking in artistic interpretation. In this print, Hokusai improved his design by combining Western perspective with some Japanese modifications. For example, he made the recession into space less extreme and involved fewer elements, creating a shallower and more open space, with traditional decorative treatment in a traditional space. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 58 Cat. 9) - - - - - - - - - - Hokusai regularly incorporated elements of Western perspective into his print designs from early on. During his period of apprenticeship in the Katsukawa School, he was already making uki-e “perspective pictures,” following a popular trend represented by artists such as Okumura Masanobu (1686-1764) and Utagawa Toyoharu (1735-1814). Uki-e had an air of novelty and exoticism that made them highly marketable to an audience eager to learn about foreign ideas. Most of the prints in the Thirty-six Views were done in a hybrid style that utilized Western perspective more subtly, but this print is rigidly arranged toward a single point in the distance, marked by a tower just visible on the horizon. Mount Fuji stands off-center to the left, framed and partially obscured by the arching bridge, while lines of buildings along the bank recede into space on either side.

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Mishima Pass in Kai Province 甲州三嶌越 Kōshū Mishima-goe

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Mishima Pass in Kai Province tree huggers 19miles North of the summit of Mount Fuji


The print is one of Hokusai’s most interesting and humorous compositions in the Fuji series. Fuji, wrapped by a curling cloud at its summit, is seen across the hilly Mishima Pass, colored in light green. The mountain is split into three color bands, blue, white, and charcoal black. Its flanks on both sides are adorned with curling clouds. In the center foreground, a gigantic tree, with lower limbs hanging down, towers to the sky, its upper reaches cut off by the edge of the paper. Three men, perhaps in a relaxed mood after having crossed this difficult pass, try to measure the circumference of this impressive tree by joining their hands and encircling the trunk. A seated man, who does not wish to join them, is enjoying a puff of tobacco. Again, Hokusai’s geometric compositional scheme is notable. Fuji’s left slope is repeated by two diagonal lines: a tree branch hanging down from the edge of the paper, and the hills at the right. The exact location of Mishima Pass is uncertain. It is speculated that it may be Kagosaka Pass, or this print may be one of Hokusai’s fictitious views of Fuji.

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Below Meguro 下目黒 Shimo-Meguro

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Below Meguro farmers and falconers 63miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


This print is considered one of Hokusai’s most complex and interesting compositions in the Fuji series. Hokusai fills the foreground with thatched roofs, haystacks, and hills that curve up at the left and right, thus creating an open space that dips in the center, in the middle ground. Fuji stands low along the horizon at the dip. On the right, the hilly lands climb step by step to fields terraced for cultivation. The slope is marked by leggy pine trees that stretch their branches to the sky. To the left, a farmer with a hoe over his shoulder walks up the hill. In the foreground, right of center, two falconers are probably asking a third man about the path to the top of the hill. Now an important subcenter to the south of Tokyo, Shimo Meguro was a small village in what was, in Hokusai’s time, a suburb of Edo. Yellow and two shades of green contrast with the pink on the roofs and the indigo blue of the sky. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 79. Cat. 30) Beyond a band of mist separating the viewer from the scene, the thatched roofs and haystacks of a farming village anchor the composition in the lower left. Behind them terraced fields rise on gently sloping hills to either side. A man climbs the path to his field on the left, while another farmer chats with two men bearing falcons on their shoulders; the area was renowned for falconry. Mount Fuji is blended so subtly into the landscape that the viewer almost misses it on first glance, attracted only by its snow-capped summit gleaming in the distance. The palette of tan, shades of green, and blue, with blue key block outlines, is particularly harmonious in this print, creating an idyllic pastoral setting.

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Mitsui Shop on Suruga Street in Edo 江都駿河町三井見世略図 Kōto Suruga-cho Mitsui Miseryakuzu

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Mitsui Shop on Suruga Street in Edo 65miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


The Surugachö district of Edo was located just north of Nihonbashi Bridge in the area now called Muromachi 3-chome. Among the larger stores was the Echigoya Mitsui Clothing Store, today known as Mitsukoshi, Japan’s largest modern department store. The store became very successful after adopting a new business practice, payment in cash at time of sale, instead of accruing charges to customers’ accounts. By eliminating the traditional practice of billing customers only once or twice a year, the store was able to sell goods at reduced princes. The Surugachö district was a famous spot for seeing Mount Fuji clearly, especially on a chilly winter day. In this print, the street is flanked with two Mitsui stores, each with a sign stating “Clothing” (right) and “Braided Cords and Threads” (left). Both signs have mottoes stating the store’s policy – “Cash Payment” and “No Padded Prices.” Hokusai extremely exaggerated the perspective, taking a very high position from a foreground point on the roof, which looks down to the horizon. He thus brought the two buildings very close to the viewer, showing only the second floors and roofs, where the roof repairmen work. This extremely steep perspective also drops other buildings from sight, ingeniously creating a clear space for Fuji. Before Hokusai launched the Fuji series, he studied all forms and movement of nature, humans, and animals, and published his drawing books, the Hokusai Manga. These workmen’s postures are recorded in the Manga. The two flying kites indicate the season is winter, on New Year’s Day. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 75. Cat. 26) ****************** The Mitsui Clothing Store just north of Nihonbashi (Japan Bridge) was the predecessor of modern Mitsukoshi, the largest department store in Japan. By Hokusai’s time the store had adopted an innovative business practice of expecting cash payment at the time of sale, which allowed them to establish low, fixed prices. Accordingly, the signs to either side read “Cash Payment” and “No Padded Prices.” By abandoning the traditional system of customer accounts paid only a few times each year, the Mitsui Family was able to build one of the most successful financial empires in twentieth century Japan. Surugachö was famous for its fine views of Mount Fuji. In this print, Hokusai has cropped the foreground and used a high viewing angle to eliminate details of the street, thereby establishing Mount Fuji as the main subject. Its form is repeated in the roof of the store, which is being repaired by three workmen. The two kites in the upper center indicate that it is New Year’s Day; Mount Fuji was closely connected with New Year’s festivities, and a dream of the mountain at this time was especially auspicious. “Hokusai’s Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” (09/24/2009-01/06/2010)

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The back of Fuji from the Minobu river 身延川裏不二 Minobu-gawa ura Fuji

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai The back of Fuji from the Minobu river 16miles West of the summit of Mount Fuji


Hokusai preferred to show Mount Fuji majestically in the distance, or in close-ups with its long flanks. This print is unusual in that Fuji competes with other mountains on each side. The brown mountains on its right and the green one on its left look taller because they are closer to the viewers in actual space; Fuji reveals only its now-covered summit between their fantastic shapes. The print well expresses the feeling of a remote mountainous region. Below the thick clouds, the Minobu River surges in rolling waves and breakers, indicated by numerous dark-blue dots. On the pinkish-brown colored highway, a man leads two horses to the right, while two bearers carrying a palanquin come from the opposite direction. Two more travelers follow the horses. To provide textures to the rough surface and to enhance the odd shapes of the other mountains, Hokusai uses curly, nervous brushwork, an effect that the block carver has skillfully reproduced. Traditionally Fuji seen from the west is called ‘back of Fuji’ (ura-Fuji), a face of the mountain known for its steep and rugged appearance. The ten prints that supplemented the original thirty-six prints of the series were assumed to be views of the back of Fuji. Yet this print is the only one bearing the subtitle “the back of Fuji.” The identity of the Minobu River is considered Hokusai’s mistake (Kondö 1966, no. 46). Regardless of the questionable identity of the river and the location, the print expresses a fantastic view of ura-Fuji. The key-block was printed in black. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 96. Cat. 47) ************** While most of the prints in the Thirty-six Views show the “front” of Mount Fuji, ten prints depict the volcano from its west or “back” side. It has been assumed that these ten prints were supplementary works added to the original thirty-six views of the series, making the total number of forty-six prints that survive today. This richly textured print places Mount Fuji between two tall, serrated mountains typical of Chinese landscape painting. Hokusai is known to have studied Chinese painting through the famous Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting (Kaishien gaden), which had been widely available in Japan since the seventeenth century. Passing through a narrow valley along the swiftly flowing river with the mountains rising precipitously from a girdle of clouds beyond, the travelers seem to have strayed into an otherworldly realm out of ancient Chinese myth. For all ten “back of Fuji” prints, the key-block was printed in black. The publisher Eijudö may have canceled the use of synthetic blue ink imported from the West for the additional ten prints due to the detrimental effect of the ink on woodblocks, as well as the decline in popularity of the color a few years after the first publication of the print series. “Hokusai’s Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”

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Nakahara in Sagami Province 相州仲原 Sōshū Nakahara

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Nakahara in Sagami Province product placement 36miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


A man at the far right, perhaps a shop clerk (tedai ), pauses on the riverbank to admire the view of Mount Fuji. He wears a typical townsman's kimono with crisp narrow blue and white stripes. The lower part of his kimono is tucked up at the waist for easy walking, showing the kimono's solid blue lining. On his back, he bears an umbrella and a large bundle wrapped in a green cotton furoshiki. A furoshiki can be of any size. A simple square cloth, it wraps almost any object, and its tied ends make a good handle for carrying. When not in use, it conveniently folds into a tiny space. Hokusai and Hiroshige portray travelers carrying furoshiki bundles on the back, at the front or side, tied around the neck, at the waist, or over the shoulders and held straight or diagonally-as many ways as one can imagine. A furoshiki is often decorated with a family crest to identify the status of the family, or with a shop logo that is a form of commercial advertisement. Hokusai places the young man looking at Mount Fuji with his back directly to us so that we can see without distraction the large logo on his green furoshiki: three commas (tomoe) in a circle beneath a triangular form representing a mountain. Just as brand name items are introduced into movies as advertisements, here Hokusai has drawn the logo of his own publisher, Eijudo. (from “Blue and White” textiles exhibition 8/28/2008-) - - - - - - - - - - - - Against the fairly large Mount Fuji with its long flanks, Hokusai depicts a scene where residents and travelers – pilgrims, merchants, a farm woman, and a fisherman – are using a local road. It is one of his more successful simpler compositions. By abbreviating the landscape elements in the middle ground and foreground, Hokusai has created enough space to show the human figures and their lively activities, which are his main interest. As usual, he made the scene interesting with extensive details. For example, the woman with her baby on her back is taking lunch to her husband in the field. She carries the meal in a tub, holding it on her head with her left hand. In her right hand she holds a hoe by the handle, on which she has hung a water kettle. A merchant who looks at Fuji carries his luggage wrapped in cloth with his store sign. Placed atop it is an umbrella. The house in the foreground has a kind of scarecrow: three poles with strings stretched between them, to which rattles are attached. Presumably they sound when the wind blows, or if birds attempt to perch on the string. The season is autumn, as a gold tone fills the middle ground. A simple but rich color scheme is used: two shades of blue, orange, yellow, and green. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 94. Cat. 45) ********* In this print Hokusai presents a cross-section of the kinds of people encountered during a pilgrimage to Mount Fuji. Perhaps most striking is the woman on the bridge, who not only carries a baby on her back and a large wooden tray with wrapped bundles of food for lunch on her head, but also balances an iron kettle on her hoe! A similarly burdened man turns to her, while another villager sifts through the water of the stream with a net. Two pilgrims are about to cross the bridge; the one in front carries a portable shrine on his back. Another pilgrim with a similar shrine waits for them on the road. To the far right, a merchant pauses to admire the view of Mount Fuji; on his back is a bundle playfully marked with the sign of Eijudö, the publisher of the Thirty-six Views series.

Nakahara has been identified as a district of present-day Hiratsuka, where pilgrims to Mt Oyama would turn off the Tokaido Highway and begin their journey along the Oyama Road (UT 1975, no. 40). Oyama was an ancient holy site with a Fudo Hall halfway up the mountain and a shrine at the summit where a large rock, the Oyama Sekison, was worshipped. For country people it was the rain-inducing power of the deities of Oyama that was the main reason for their pilgrimages; for the city-dwellers of Edo it was on the return from climbing Mt Fuji, or part of a circuit that also took in visits to Enoshima and Kamakura (cat. 38; 'Edo-gaku jiten', 1984, s.v. 'Oyama-mode').

The slopes of Oyama were only open to pilgrims between the 27th day of the sixth month and the 17th day of the seventh month, the beginning of autumn. The scene here at the bridge over a small river is populated with both local people and travellers (anti-clockwise from the right): a pedlar with load and furled umbrella, a mendicant pilgrim ('rokujuroku-bu') with ringed staff and portable shrine, a farmer with a bird rattle - perhaps to protect boxes of seed - followed on the bridge by a woman loaded down with baby, hoe, spade and bundles and boxes in a shallow wooden basin on her head, a fisherman with scoop-basket standing in the shallows and two more pilgrims approaching the bridge. Turned away from us behind them is a roadside stone statue of the deity Fudo, surely marking the road to Oyama. Bird-scarers are strung between poles on strings that form their own nonchalant Fuji shape. The deep blue cloud to the left of Fuji has been printed using the technique of 'ita-bokashi' (block gradation), where the edges of the carved areas are abraded so as to appear slightly ragged when printed. A second impression in the British Museum collection (1907.3-22.05) omits the red seals of the censor and publisher. References: 'Ukiyo-e taikei, vol. 13: Fugaku sanju-rokkei', Tokyo, Shueisha, 1975 (text by Kobayashi Tadashi), no. 40. 'Meihin soroimono ukiyo-e, vol. 8: Hokusai I', Tokyo, Gyosei, 1991 (text by Nagata Seiji), no. 26. Julia White, 'et al.', 'Hokusai and Hiroshige: Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts', Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 (commentaries by Yoko Woodson), no. 45.

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Nihonbashi bridge in Edo 江戸日本橋 Edo Nihon-bashi

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Nihonbashi bridge in Edo the Tökaidö Road 64miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


Nihonbashi Bridge was the most important transportation center in Edo, the point where two major highways converged and diverged – the Tökaidö and Kiso roads connecting Edo and Kyoto. Build in 1602, this arched wooden bridge of 154 feet spanned the Nihonbashi River, one of many small tributaries that emptied into the Sumida River. Reconstructed several times since then, today it is a stone bridge over the reclaimed river. In the city of Edo, a network of rivers and canals transported goods and people. Stores, wholesalers, storage buildings, and houses lined the riverbanks. In this print we see the backs of the stores, where boats docked and workmen unloaded goods. Some stores have their signs on the walls of the buildings. Today Nihonbashi is Tokyo’s business center, with its banks, countless shops, and major department stores. In this print, Hokusai chooses to view Mount Fuji form this busy city center. The Nihonbashi Bridge, which cuts across the foreground of the picture horizontally is crowded with people. Hokusai’s study of Western-style perspective is obvious: a pseudo-perspective in which the buildings on the riverbanks merge into a vanishing point far in the distance, where the river disappears and houses and boats diminish in size. In the upper left, over the horizon, Mount Fuji reveals its peak. Just below the horizon, at center, rise the buildings of the shogun’s Edo castle. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 85. Cat. 36) ****************** Nihonbashi (Japan Bridge) was the central transportation hub for the city of Edo, with the major routes of the Tökaidö (East Sea Road) and Kiso Road converging at this point. The area remains a commercial and financial district in modern Tokyo, and is home to many of Japan’s most important banks and department stores. The bridge itself was first built in 1602, with several reconstructions during the Edo period that ultimately resulted in the stone bridge still standing today. Hokusai dramatically crops the bridge in the foreground, conveying a sense of frenzied activity as merchants, travelers, and other Edoites struggle to cross. Beyond the bridge, the backs of shops and warehouses recede using Western perspective to Edo Castle (now the Imperial Residence) in the background, with Mount Fuji rising to the left. Boats full of merchandise move up and down the canal, while workmen wait along the bank to unload their cargo. “Hokusai’s Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” (09/24/2009-01/06/2010)

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Bay of Noboto 登戸浦 Noboto-ura

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Bay of Noboto clamming 62miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


The print depicts people cheerfully gathering clams at low tide at the beach at Noboto on a summer day. Two men happily retreat with their full baskets, while another approaches the beach. A woman and a man with empty baskets are perhaps wondering if their spot is good; two children are seen playing their own games; and two men in the distance dig into the sand with their flat baskets. It is probably a day in early summer. Noboto, a small fishing village, was located on the east coast of the bay of Edo, but outside the city proper. The beach at Noboto had shallow water for a good distance, an ideal place for people to dig clams. There was a small shrine on the hill above the beach, and the two torii gates most likely belonged to it. Snow-covered Mount Fuji is seen through the larger torii. The composition is simple, only accentuated by these gates. The color scheme is also simple, using dark green and yellow-green, pale and dark blues, and brown for the torii and the roofs of the buildings. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 87. Cat. 38) ******************** The small fishing village of Noboto was located on the east coast of Edo Bay. With a large expanse of shallow water, it was a good location to dig for clams, and several people from the village cool themselves in the water on a summer day while enjoying this pastime. Above them stand two torii gates marking a Shinto shrine on the hill beyond the right edge of the print, the larger of which frames Mount Fuji, underscoring its sacredness. While some prints from the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series emphasize the insubstantiality of human existence in the face of powerful natural forces (most notably Great Wave and Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit ), here Hokusai takes the opposite approach. The idyllic scene embodies the Shinto ideal of humanity in perfect harmony with a natural world that offers stability and protection, manifested both by the torii gates and Mount Fuji, gleaming purely white (a color symbolic of divinity in Shinto belief) in the distance. “Hokusai’s Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” (09/24/2009-01/06/2010)


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Ōno Shinden in the Suruga Province 駿州大野新田 Sunshū Ōno-shinden

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai The New Fields at Ōno in Suruga Province reeds 49miles Southwest of the summit of Mount Fuji


The print depicts early morning in the marshy paddies of Öno, with mist rising from the wet grasses while waterfowl skim the surface of the water. Fuji solemnly rises through the mist to the sky; it touches the upper edge of the picture. This ethereal landscape dramatically contrasts with the human activity revealed in the foreground. A group of farmers leads five oxen laden with mountainous bundles of reeds, while two women carry smaller bundles of grass on their backs. They have finished their morning labors and are going home for breakfast. ‘New Fields’ was a name applied to fields recently brought under cultivation. During the Edo period, the shogun and local governments made an effort to expand arable lands in order to support an increasing population, and also to increase taxable lands. Wild or marshy lands were reclaimed. The New Fields of Öno must depict an expanse of such marshy land being cultivated, perhaps for reeds. The simple design with fewer landscape elements successfully depicts a benevolent nature that embraces human life. The color scheme is also simple; a single shade of blue dominates, except for the pink sky on the right flank of Fuji and broad brown areas of reeds and oxen. The key-block was printed in black. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 97. Cat. 48) Öno was situated on the Tökaidö (East Sea Road) between the Hara and Yoshiwara stations. “New Fields” (shinden) was a name commonly applied to areas first brought under cultivation during the Edo period, in response to the growing population during this long period of political stability. Mount Fuji rises solemnly over a mist-covered marsh, while along the lower third of the print a group of men lead oxen laden with reeds, and two women help by carrying smaller bundles on their backs. The image of the sacred mountain shown here, with white egrets flying before it, may recall imaginary views of the mythical island of the immortals, Mount Hörai, encircled by cranes. Hokusai contrasts this otherworldly image of Mount Fuji in the background with the laborious scene in the foreground, but also instills a sense of idealism into the agricultural scene, following a centuries-old tradition in East Asia of finding spiritual wisdom in peasant life. “Hokusai’s Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” (09/24/2009-01/06/2010)

The New Fields at Ōno in Suruga Province. Farmers with reeds on four large oxen go by field. Two women ahead with plants on back. Herons in flight. Mt. Fuji rises in center above scne, right side obscured by clouds.$

Early morning in the marshy paddies of Ono with mist rising from the wet grasses and water fowl skimming the surface of the water. Fuji rises solemnly through the mist to the sky. Beautiful scene, fantastic Hokusai work.

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Fine Wind, Clear Morning 凱風快晴 Gaifū kaisei

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Fine Wind, Clear Morning south wind 14miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


Gaifü Kaisei (literally, clear day with a southern breeze) is commonly known as Mount Fuji at Dawn, or the shorter Red Fuji. Here the mountain rises in the right third of the composition, extending in a long ridge to the left bottom. The base is covered densely with trees, here reduced to tiny dots. Among the many works depicting Mount Fuji, none surpasses this powerful and pleasant rendering. It is said that Fuji takes on a red color in early morning and around sunset. It looks best when bright red, which occurs under special conditions when many small, undulating clouds float in the clear sky. The abundance of clouds in this composition indicates that Hokusai had actually seen Mount Fuji in these conditions. Mount Fuji is not actually this steep – its slopes are less than 45 degrees – but Hokusai made it steep toward the peak for dramatic effect. The simple color scheme is limited to red-brown, blue, white, and two shades of green. The composition overall demonstrates that the most powerful and effective composition does not require complexity. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 56, Cat. 7) Despite its simplicity, this is one of Hokusai’s most powerful depictions of Mount Fuji. The mountain is said to take on a red color at dawn in the late summer or early fall, in the rays of the rising sun. An auspicious sight, depictions of Red Fuji became popular among literati artists and intellectuals in the Edo period as worship of the mountain spread. The Japanese title of this work is Gaifü Kaisei, which literally means “southern breeze in clear weather.” According to its original Chinese meaning, gaifü (southern breeze) is the wind that blows in early summer, bestowing longevity upon all living things. Hokusai here likens Mount Fuji to the legendary Mount Hörai, an isle of eternal youth in Chinese mythology. Traditionally believed to be in the sea to the east of China (like Japan itself), with cliffs so steep it could only be reached by flying on the back of a crane, Mount Hörai offered a vision of freedom from toil and political intrigue to both Chinese and Japanese intelligentsia, and was a popular subject in the arts. “Hokusai’s Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”

“Commonly known as ‘Red Fuji’, no other print in Hokusai’s oeuvre takes Nature so uncompromisingly as its subject. Whereas in the majority of Hokusai’s landscape designs Nature is used as the setting in which human life goes on, nothing in this print suggests man’s presence: there is only Mount Fuji, towering against a blue sky patterned with white clouds. The season is somewhere between late summer and early autumn, when Mount Fuji is said to have a reddish hue. The snow makes a sharp contrast to the almost black cone of the summit. The emphasis given to this, the darkest area of the design, is balanced by the woods at the foot of the mountain. The subdivision into a dark summit, reddish mass and a green, tree-covered base is in itself sufficient to make the mountain appear intriguing. Yet, Hokusai chose to set off Fuji with a blue sky that is almost completely filled with an intricate pattern of clouds, which demands equal attention. This type of cloud is unique in Japanese prints – and, for that matter, in Japanese art: it obviously emulates Western models, and probably derives from Dutch copperplate engravings. That Hokusai chose to use these Western-style clouds in one of his first true landscape prints may have been, in part, the result of a desire to attract the public’s attention to his art, although some fifteen years earlier, in the fifth volume of his picture book Hokusai manga (1816), he had included a similar design, with Mount Fuji seen from the pine beach of Shio. However, it was only printed in line and in tones of grey and pink, and in a much less prestigious format. Only when this large, ōban colour print was published did Hokusai’s innovations in landscape design become apparent. The colour variations in this print—the shading from black to red and from reddish-brown to green, depending on the printer’s interpretation—which are probably greater than in any other of Hokusai’s designs, are frequently commented on. Most of the early and the carefully graded impressions, however, feature particularly strong colouring, lending a quite dramatic sense of presence to the mountain. There is also a later, variant, reprint (Ukiyoe taikei, XIII, 2-2) from the original blocks, in which the blue outline of the mountain is omitted and the title cartouche and signature are printed in black. For that impression, a blue block was employed for both the sky and for Fuji, and stronger blue for the mountain’s slopes, while its base was printed in a light tone and the upper half left uncoloured.” Forrer, Matthi. Hokusai: Prints and Drawings. Munich: Prestel, 1991, p. 12.

Sunset across the Ryōgoku bridge from the bank of the Sumida River at Onmayagashi 御厩川岸より両国橋夕陽見 Ommayagashi yori ryōgoku-bashi yūhi mi

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Sunset across the Ryōgoku bridge 70miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


The Ommaya Embankment was a landing for a ferry crossing between the Ryögoku and Ökawa bridges, which spanned the Sumida River in Edo. In this print, the long arc of the Ryögoku Bridge is seen from a point near the Ommaya embarkation point. In Hokusai’s time, the Ryögoku Bridge and its vicinity served as a gathering place where, for example, people would crowd to view fireworks during the summer festival. This custom still continues today. In the Edo period, a network of large rivers, such as the Sumida and many subsidiary rivers as well as canals, provided convenient public transportation. For a minimum fee, passengers rode a ferry to a landing nearest to their destination. Ferries carried all sorts of people, who arrived from all directions. On this ferry some passengers chat, while another sits in deep contemplation, and one man leans on the gunwale to wash his towel. A woman in another boat also washes her towel. Most of the people are indifferent to the beauty of Mount Fuji, seen dark blue against the red sunset sky. Hokusai, well known for his masterful treatment of water and waves, skillfully expresses the rolling current of the river, which makes the ferry pitch. Hokusai’s ingenious design ability is observed in the bird-catcher’s long, birdlime-coated pole. This pole, rising high against the empty sky, enlivens a horizontal composition that would have been a bit dull without it. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 76. Cat. 27)

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At Sea off Kazusa 上総の海路 Kazusa no kairo

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai At Sea off Kazusa sailing ship 70miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


Two large sailing ships appear in the foreground. Hokusai must have closely scrutinized the actual scene and the ships, for he has depicted them in minute detail and with extraordinary thoroughness. The sails have caught the wind and are about to head out to the open sea. The curved line of the promontory extends to the left and continues as the curved horizon. It is not certain that Hokusai actually saw the curve in the horizon, but by his time, the theory that the earth is spherical had become common knowledge among the Japanese through Dutch contacts. Hokusai also observed that the color of the ocean changed in the distance from blue to green, and by this shift, he expresses the expansiveness of the open sea. Fuji appears at center, and small sails are seen to the left, on the horizon. Unlike prints of bays and rivers, in his seascape prints Hokusai depicts the open sea route that connected Edo and the Bösö Peninsula; the kind of ships depicted differ from those on rivers. During the Edo period, there were no ships solely for passengers on major seaways. Only pleasure boats and ferries, used on rivers, canals, and bays, exclusively served passengers. But seagoing cargo ships also took passengers. Constructed of fir or cedar, and designed for both sail and oars, cargo ships had one mast, a huge sail of burlap, and accommodated passengers beneath the upper deck in a large cabin. This seems to be the type of ship Hokusai depicts here. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 84. Cat. 35)

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Barrier Town on the Sumida River 隅田川関屋の里 Sumidagawa Sekiya no sato

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Sekiya Village on the Sumida River pony riders 66miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


The Sumida, a relatively short river, originates in the Kanto Mountains. The river changes names in the length of its course: first it is called the Nakatsu-gawa, then the Arakawa, the Sumidagawa, and at its lower reaches, the Ökawa or Asakusagawa. This major river flows north to south through the eastern half of Tokyo, connects a network of canals, and then empties into Tokyo Bay. Now as well as in the Edo period, the river was closely integrated into the life of the people; countless wholesale stores and warehouses were located along its banks. Sekiya was located to the north of the city of Edo proper, where the river was called the Arakawa. The village was famous for beautiful scenery. Hokusai, however, depicts a dynamic scene of three pony express riders galloping along the dike above a stretch of marshy land. Mount Fuji recedes in the distance between a gnarled pine growing from the side of the dike and a tree in full foliage on the right. The structure in front shelters a government signboard where official proclamations and changes of law were posted. During the Edo period, well-developed communication system employed runners (hikyaku) and pony riders (hayauma). Carrying mail, documents, and goods, these runners and horsemen transported them swiftly and on schedule. The official carriers were given so much priority and authority that no one could interfere with them. The riders in this print may well be government message carriers. Hokusai again draws on his studies of human and animal movements, convincingly depicting the horses and riders running at a furious pace. Again, the calm and immovable Fuji provides a contrast to the swift horses and riders and the sense of extreme urgency that they evoke. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 86. Cat. 37) ********************** The Tokugawa shogunate maintained an effective communication system that utilized runners and horsemen (hayauma or “fast horses”) that allowed dispatches to be carried quickly across the country. The three riders shown here, their speed indicated by the horses’ postures as their hoofs fly off the ground and their manes and tails trail in the wind that also whips the riders’ clothes, are probably official messengers. The small wooden structure on left houses a signboard with government notices, reinforcing this identification. Mount Fuji stands immobile in contrast to the riders, framed by the gnarled pine that occupies the center of the print. “Hokusai’s Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” (09/24/2009-01/06/2010)

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Pleasure District at Senju 従千住花街眺望の不二 Senju Hana-machi Yori Chōbō no Fuji

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Pleasure District at Senju 63miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


Part of a daimyo procession is passing down the Senju Road. Between the thatch-roofed houses, samurai soldiers are seen carrying guns wrapped in brown cloth. The samurai wear two swords, the symbols of their class. They are in uniform - kimono with a design of blue and white, and green trousers. Some of them glance at Mount Fuji for a moment, finding it beautiful. At the side of the highway are fields where two farm women rest on the path. The completely snow-covered Fuji and the golden field indicates late autumn and the approaching winter. The fenced-in buildings beyond the field are the brothels of the district of Senju, often called Flower Town. Unlike the more famous Yoshiwara pleasure district, Senju was privately operated without government sanction. At its peak in the Edo period, the district is said to have contained thirty-eight brothels. In the shelter at right foreground, an important personage seems to be resting. The procession of a high-ranking samurai was an important ceremonial aspect of that life as well as a costly and unavoidable undertaking. Though in the 250 years of peace in the Edo period, samurai warriors did not engage in combat, their armaments were their status symbols and were disregarded at one's peril. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 92. Cat. 43) ******************* The procession of a daimyö, or feudal lord, passes through the village of Senju, which was the first station on the Nikkö Road, to the northeast of Edo. Wearing two swords that indicate their samurai rank, the daimyö’s retainers are dressed in blue uniforms, and carry guns in red cases. Daimyö were required by the shogunate to alternate their residences between the capital and their own lands, and retinues of up to two thousand people moving to and from the capital were a common sight. The pleasure quarter of Senju, with brothels surrounded by wooden fencing, is visible in the background. Two farmwomen casually watching the procession, and the samurai who turn from their drudgery to admire the view, lessen the formality of the scene. The harvested field in which they sit suggests the season of autumn, as does the snow on Mount Fuji. Hokusai renders horizontal clouds in the traditional Japanese style called suyarigasumi, covering both sides of the composition. These clouds often serve a narrative function in Japanese art to indicate a change of place or time. The device also covers less important areas of the composition, drawing the viewer’s eyes to specific focal points. “Hokusai’s Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” (09/24/2009-01/06/2010)

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Senju, Musashi Province 武州千住 Bushū Senju

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Senju, Musashi Province northern suburb of Edo 63miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


The print represents a view of Mount Fuji from Senju, the northern suburb of Edo. The river, which rises in the Kantö Mountains, changes name over its course. In this area, some miles upstream, it was called the Arakawa River. Fuji is seen here across the Arakawa beyond rice fields in the middle ground. Although not represented in the print, the so-named Great Bridge spanned the Arakawa at Senju, where the highway to Mutsu province in the far north originated. Senju was thus a gateway to the north, with its streets full of inns, shops, restaurants, and travelers. In the foreground, on the bank of a canal leading to Arakawa, a horseman appears, leading his aging, tired horse. Momentarily he gazes at the beautiful cone of Fuji. Two seated men are fishing at the edge of the canal. Hokusai's usual geometric treatment of his composition is obvious in this print. The horse's bent stance resembles the triangle of Fuji, and the weighted rein draws a line that echoes the rise and fall of the rounded hills. The rectangular elements of the flood-gate (suimon) rise to make a screen for the river and for Fuji. The print is also evocative; one cannot help feeling empathy for the tired horse. The turtle, its tail tied to the rein, may be one that the horseman caught on the way to take home as his children’s pet. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 61. Cat. 12) - - - - - - - - - - - - Senju was an important suburb of Edo, and a departure point for journeys to the north. As a result, it was a bustling district filled with shops providing services to travelers. However, Hokusai shows an out-of-the-way corner with a view looking out beyond rice fields to the Arakawa (Ara River) and Mount Fuji in the distance. Sitting above a canal, two fishermen look out over the expanse, joined by a man leading his tired horse past a floodgate that frames the volcano. The hapless turtle tied to the horse’s rein might be intended as a gift for the man’s children. Hokusai used the strong vertical lines of the floodgate to prevent his landscape from becoming flat. He often employed devices such as this to emphasize the distance between the foreground and the view in the distance. “Hokusai’s Summit: Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” (09/24/2009-01/06/2010)

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Rainstorm Beneath the Summit 山下白雨 Sanka hakū

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Rainstorm Beneath the Summit Thunderstorm lightning flashes 13miles North of the summit of Mount Fuji


Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit represents one of the few perfect compositions in the Mount Fuji series. Together with Under the Wave Off Kanagawa (cat. 6) and Mount Fuji at Dawn (cat. 7), it forms a trio of masterpieces. These images symbolically express the power of nature in simple designs; by doing so, they make us contemplate the relationship of man to the natural world. The print depicts Mount Fuji in its simplest form. Basically similar in design to Mount Fuji at Dawn, the mountain’s volcanic cone rises starkly, an undulating line describing its left flank. The background consists only of blue sky and ranks of clouds rising from behind the mountain at the midpoint of both its flanks. Nothing in this image foretells the variable weather at higher altitudes. Here we observe that the air around the slopes below the summit has darkened where lightning flashes in zigzag patterns, and we imagine the roll of thunder. Unaffected, Fuji stands in unbreachable serenity. Masterpieces like this one profoundly influence Western artists, particularly the Impressionists of the second half of the nineteenth century. Such works came to be regarded as containing the essence of Japan.

Like Red Fuji, this view of the mountain likely comes from Hokusai’s imagination. The volcano occupies the majority of the picture, and there is a marked contrast between the upper and lower portions of the print, emphasizing Mount Fuji’s height. The volcano’s snowcapped peak rises into a clear sky over low clouds (the shapes of which are derived from Western models), while at its feet a storm breaks. The thunderstorm indicates the beginning of a sudden shower, symbolizing the promise of an abundant harvest. The use of vivid colors and simplified two-dimensional design in this print was considered sensational by many European and American artists, particularly the Impressionists, who turned to Japanese art in the nineteenth century as a means to break free from traditional artistic conventions. Together with Great Wave and Red Fuji, this is considered one of the finest prints in the entire series. Its similar composition to Red Fuji emphasizes the loftiness of the mountain and its ever-changing appearance, while the ominous thunderstorm references the powerful forces of nature that also characterize Great Wave.

This print is only superficially different in composition toHokusai's 'South Wind, Clear Sky', and yet the two designs are deliberately contrasting, down to the smallest detail. The calm, bright dawn has given way to agitation and darkness, as a sudden storm erupts around the base of the mountain, with jagged lightning forming an untidy echo of the slopes. The manner of drawing Fuji's triple summit with a deep ravine on the left side is interpreted to show the 'back' (that is, north) side of Mt Fuji. If this is so, then Hokusai's intention may have been to set up poetic contrasts between this and the previous design, of front/back, morning/evening, fair weather/storm.,_rainstorm.aspx

Goten-yama-hill, Shinagawa on the Tōkaidō 東海道品川御殿山の不二 Tōkaidō Shinagawa Goten'yama no Fuji

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Goten-yama-hill, Shinagawa on the Tōkaidō 61miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


The print is one of Hokusai’s extremely detailed compositions. It depicts a merry scene of cherry-blossom viewing at Gotenyama, the hill north of Shinagawa in Edo. Gotenyama, or Palace Mountain, was so named because this hill was said to have been the site of the shogun’s villa. Shinagawa was the first stop of the fifty three stations of the Tökaidö Road, approximately 5 miles from Nihonbashi, where the road began. With its fantastic ocean view and cherry trees planted during the Kanbun period (1661-72), Gotenyama was a very popular picnic spot. Hokusai represents this famous hill with its cherry trees in full blossom. As seen in this print, cherry trees characteristically blossom before their new leaves come out, which makes the flower masses a dense, pure pink. Here some picnickers have spread a red rug to sit on to drink sake. Some family groups are climbing toward the hill with their children on their shoulders, and some are already drunk and merrily dancing, waving their fans. The merry picnickers are indifferent to beautiful Mount Fuji, the ocean, and even the flowers for which they made the journey. The Japanese jokingly acknowledge that “dumplings are better than flowers” (hana yori dango), meaning that drinking and eating are more fun than viewing flowers. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 93. Cat. 44) **************** Today a large district in Tokyo, Shinagawa was the first station on the Tökaidö (“East Sea Road”) to the south of Edo. Gotenyama (Palace Hill) was a popular site for excursions to enjoy cherry blossoms (planted during the seventeenth century), and the superb views of Mount Fuji and Sagami Bay. The same location is shown in the print (also in this exhibition) by Utagawa Toyoharu; however, while Hokusai shows the view of Mount Fuji looking out from Gotenyama, Toyoharu turns the scene around to show Gotenyama from a distance. Mount Fuji is still present in a sense, since Gotenyama was the location of one of the many miniature Mount Fujis built around the city of Edo in response to the Fuji Cult. Unlike the subtle simplicity of Red Fuji or Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit, this print is one of the most detailed scenes in the entire series. Groups of picnickers enjoy themselves in teahouses and beneath the pale cherry blossoms outside, while Mount Fuji stands aloof in the distance.

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Tea house at Koishikawa. The morning after a snowfall 礫川雪の旦 Koishikawa yuki no ashita

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Tea house at Koishikawa. The morning after a snowfall 62miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


Men and women in a pavilion leisurely enjoy the view of a distant, snow-covered Mount Fuji. Hokusai shows one woman at the right wearing a sophisticated, blue striped kimono over a contrasting bright red undergarment. Striped kimonos were widely enjoyed by men and women of modest means. Stripes are perhaps the easiest pattern to create on a simple country loom and were widely used to decorate commoner's garments. By alternating warp or weft thread colors, stripes of many varieties were easily achieved-vertical, horizontal, or, by combining both warp and weft, crisscrossing checkerboards. Further, by varying the hues and the width of stripes, weavers were able to create practical garments that boasted surprisingly subtle and sophisticated patterns. Interestingly, early stripe patterns found in Japanese textiles were always horizontal, created by alternating the color of the weft threads. (from “Blue and White” textiles exhibition 8/28/2008-) - - - - - - - - - - - Though he excelled at dealing with rolling waves and dashing water, Hokusai seldom depicted snow scenes. As a powerful designer with a meticulous sense of detail, he perhaps was not inclined to treat snow, which covers details and blurs clarity. His young competitor, Hiroshige, dealt superbly with snow and rain, for the very reasons that Hokusai avoided them. A lyrical artist, Hiroshige used snow and rain to evoke emotion, not to describe images in precise detail. Snowy Morning at Koishikawa is a rare example of Hokusai’s snow scenes. On an ice-cold winter morning, people awake to find their world has changed overnight, covered by clean, fresh, silvery white snow. Here they gather in a second-floor room with doors wide open, excitedly looking at the scene, and above all at Mount Fuji, which is completely cloaked in snow. Koishikawa is located in present-day Bunkyö ward. The district is known for its hills, which are suitable for viewing Fuji. Some restaurants advertised themselves as being good spots for viewing the mountain. The publisher’s and the censor’s seal are in the lower right corner. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 78. Cat. 29) ******************** Located in the modern Bunkyö ward of Tokyo, the hilly area of Koishikawa was famous for its views of Mount Fuji. As a result, the area was popular for inns and teahouses, which used these views to attract customers. Here a group of women admire the sight of Mount Fuji covered with new snow from the veranda of their inn, while a servant carries a tray heavily laden with breakfast. Unlike Hiroshige, who used snowscapes to great effect in producing lyrical images of the Japanese countryside, Hokusai designed few scenes with snow, of which this is a rare example. The snow-covered landscape is further softened by printing the key block outlines in blue rather than black, a feature found in all of the original thirty-six prints from the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series. By the 1820s, imported “Prussian blue” was widely available, offering Japanese artists a more stable, lasting blue that was less sensitive to fading. This created a fashion for designs using blue as the dominant color when the Thirty-six Views first were published, evidence of which can be found in many of the prints from the series.

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Ejiri in Suruga Province 駿州江尻 Sunshū Ejiri

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Ejiri in Suruga Province sudden gust of wind 19miles Southwest of the summit of Mount Fuji


A sudden gust of wind surprises the travelers on a road that winds through marshy land, blowing away the hat of a man who tries in vain to catch it. Many squares of paper also whirl away from a woman’s backpack. They rise into the air and scatter all over the field. The woman’s wind-tossed cloth covers her face, and the tall, leggy tree in the foreground loses its leaves to the wind like falling sparks. Other travelers face the wind, crouching low to avoid it and clinging to their hats. Ejiri, a station on the Tökaidö Road, was located on the west side of the port of Shimizu. The town was famous for the beautiful pine forest of Miho (Miho no Matsubara) on the foothills of Fuji. The characteristic long grove of pines has been depicted in paintings since the Muromachi period (1392-1573) and described in waka and haiku by numerous poets. In this print, however, Hokusai chose to depict an inconspicuous spot in Ejiri, where only a banked road winds through a marsh, and focused on an instant of drama caused by a gust of wind. Fuji stands white and unshaken, affected neither by the wind nor the human drama. Hokusai had studied a similar scene in an earlier work, which appears in the seventh book of his Hokusai Manga (Kondö 1966, no.35). The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 72. Cat. 23) *********************** Ejiri, the west side of the port of Shimizu, was one of the stations on the Tökaidö (“East Sea Road”). Here Hokusai returns to the theme of the insubstantiality of the human world in the face of powerful natural forces (expressed most dramatically in Great Wave and Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit ) by depicting a group of travelers buffeted by strong winds as their belongings fly off into the distance. To emphasize the desolation of the plain as well as the sense of movement in the foreground, Hokusai has limited the color palette, and rendered an ephemeral Mount Fuji with nothing more than a contour line.

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Shimizu Port Authority

The Fuji seen from the Mishima pass (Sundai, Edo) 東都駿台 Tōto sundai

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Fuji seen from the Mishima pass 62miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


Sundai is present-day Surugadai in the Kanda district of Tokyo. During the Edo period, the area was filled with mansions of the shogun’s retainers. It was also famous for its views of Mount Fuji, seen from the hills. This scene is composed of highlands that gradually rise from center to left and are topped with tall, spreading trees. The space from center to right in the foreground is filled with large tiled roofs of two houses that seem, from this viewpoint, to rise to the height of the hills on the left, thereby creating a dip in the center of the composition. Fuji rises across the fields and beyond the clusters of small roofs in this dip. On the street in the foreground, a variety of pedestrians busily walk in both directions. A samurai and three retainers proceed to the right the men carrying box-shaped luggage on their backs. Above them, others ascend and descend the hill. The basic compositional scheme is similar to the one in Lower Meguro (cat. 30), in that the right and left sides of the composition are filled and raised, creating a dip in the center middle ground. As he often did, Hokusai paid attention to minute details – the people’s facial features, clothing designs, and body movements, as well as trees, bushes, and tiled roofs, but he never sacrificed the clarity of the design. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 59. Cat. 10) ********************* During the Edo period, Sundai (modern Surugadai in the Kanda district of Tokyo) was a residential area for retainers of the shogunate, with many mansions. Due to its elevation, it had a grand view over the city of Edo to Mount Fuji beyond. The print is dominated by a slope rising to the left, with the roof of a residence prominently occupying the lower right corner and partially blocking the view of the volcano. People of different social classes traverse the road next to the house; a samurai with three servants in the lower left, and a pilgrim dressed in white at the center are particularly noteworthy. Hokusai uses small dots and heavy shading to render the swell of the earth. These devices, together with the short lines and pronounced curves with which he drew trees, were inherited from Chinese painting, which Hokusai studied carefully throughout his life.

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Lake Suwa in Shinano Province 信州諏訪湖 Shinshū Suwa-ko

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Lake Suwa in Shinano Province 61miles Northwest of the summit of Mount Fuji


Lake Suwa, a body of water about 3 miles long and 2 ½ miles wide, lies in the Suwa basin, about 120 miles west of Edo, in Shinano province (present-day Nagano prefecture). Around the edge of the lake, there developed towns including Kami Suwa and Shimo Suwa (Upper and Lower Suwa, respectively). Kami Suwa prospered as a town connected with an ancient castle that was once occupied by the famous warrior Takeda Shingen. Rebuilt in 1590, it was reinstated as a holding of the Suwa daimyö family by the shogunate. The district of Suwa was also located where two major highways converged – the Köshü and the Kiso road. The latter (also called the Nakasendö Road) ran through the mountainous regions and connected Edo and Kyoto. In this scene, the lake is viewed from a high position somewhere along the shore. The only recognizable landmark here is Takashima Castle, seen left of center and just below Mount Fuji, at the tip of the cape filled with houses. This must comprise the village of Shimo Suwa. Today the castle is located inland; it is presumed that the waters of Lake Suwa have receded since Hokusai’s time. In the center foreground two trees, which rise to the edge of the print, stand before a house or a shrine. It is said that the mountain is so far from the lake that it can be seen only on a fine day. The reddened sky indicates it is morning; the water in the distance is getting lighter blue, reflecting the sun. Shades of blue, except for the pink sky and the brown house, dominate the picture. The key-block was printed in blue.

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Honjo Tatekawa, the timberyard at Honjo 本所立川 Honjo Tatekawa

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Honjo Tatekawa, the timberyard at Honjo 64miles East of the summit of Mount Fuji


Hokusai is the master of abbreviation. He could create the most striking designs, with only a single triangle for depicting Mount Fuji. On the other hand, he liked extremely crowded compositions. This print exemplifies such a composition, with its depiction of every stick of wood in lumberyards on the bank of a river. Fuji appears at the far right, behind the screens of the stacked poles. Honjo was adjacent to Asakusa, where the Takekawa, a small river, flows east and west, joining the Sumida River just near Ryôgoku Bridge. Honjo was famous for its many lumberyards on the riverbanks. On this side of the river, three men are busily stacking wood. A man on the left throws a bundle of wood to another man atop the stack. In the middle, a man saws a timber into planks. All these men's postures are from the well-studied human movements Hokusai recorded in his sketchbooks, the Manga. For example, the man throwing the bundle is very similar to the repairman on the roof of the Mitsui store. The lumberman also appeared in several of his prints. Ukiyo-e prints often show their publisher's name by a seal. In this series, Hokusai is sometimes inconsistent about impressing the seal of Eijudô, his publisher. Here he humorously reveals the publisher's name in the horizontal sign at right, which mentions "Lumberyard of Nishimuraya" - that is, Nishimura Eijudô. The key-block was printed in black, not blue, as in the first thirty-six prints. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 91. Cat. 42) ****************** This print shows a lumberyard at Honjo, on the banks of the Tatekawa, a canal linking Edo to the mouth of the Sumida River. Although Mount Fuji is just visible behind the tall pieces of timber on the right, the main subject is the animated activities of the three workers. The two men stacking lumber on the left, with one standing on a precipitously high pile while the other tosses boards up to him, are particularly striking. Hokusai made careful studies of human movement throughout his life, and the postures of these workmen not only are reminiscent of the bold poses in Hokusai’s early actor prints, but also of the sketches reproduced in his Manga series of woodblock-printed books. The name of Eijudö, the publisher, has cleverly been incorporated into the writing on the boards in the lower right, together with the phrase “New edition, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji completed.” This indicates that this print was one of the ten supplementary prints added to the original thirty-six views. Accordingly, the key block outlines are printed in black, unlike the first thirty-six designs, in which the key block was printed in imported Prussian blue.

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Shore of Tago Bay, Ejiri at Tōkaidō 東海道江尻田子の浦略図 Tōkaidō Ejiri tago-no-ura

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Shore of Tago Bay, Ejiri at Tōkaidō 16miles south of the summit of Mount Fuji


Ejiri is located on the west side of Shimizu’s harbor in present-day Shizuoka prefecture. From a viewpoint in mid-bay, Hokusai looks at Fuji across the long expanse of the beach of Tago (Tago no ura), at the mouth of the Fuji River. Fuji rises to the north, and the beach is backed by the famous pine groove of Miho (Miho no Matsubara). One of the most celebrated scenic spots on the Tökaidö Road, it has been mentioned in poems since ancient times. Tago was also famous for its salt flats. In this print, tiny figures work in them against the dramatic backdrop of snow-covered, towering Fuji. In the foreground, two boats pull through the choppy sea. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 82. Cat. 33) ***************** Ejiri is located on the west side of the harbor at Shimizu in present-day Shizuoka prefecture. Tago was famous not only for its splendid view of Mount Fuji, but also for its salt fields; tiny figures can be seen raking for salt on the shore. Tago’s scenic beauty has been celebrated in poetry for centuries, and one well-known classical poem reads: From the coast of Tago I go out, look back, and see The pure white peak. On Fuji’s lofty heights Snow has fallen. The bokashi gradation of blue in the sky, created during the printing process, echoes the blue in the water and the blue of Mount Fuji, unifying the different planes of the composition. The traditional stylized clouds create a misty atmosphere that frames this exceptional depiction of the mountain.

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1860 Japanese Boats. Lithograph published as an illustration to a book in 1860 shows a Japanese boat and its various sections. The print was based on observations during the Mathew Perry expedition.

Tama River in Musashi Province 武州玉川 Bushū Tamagawa

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Tama River in Musashi Province a ferry crosses 57miles east of the summit of Mount Fuji


Originating in the Chichibu Mountains, the Tama River flows into Tokyo (Edo) Bay, separating modern-day Tokyo and Kanagawa prefecture. The upper reaches, beyond the city of Öme, form an especially scenic area that for centuries has been mentioned in poetry and depicted in paintings. Today it is no longer the once-tranquil spot for viewing Fuji and the moon. Now it is filled with multistory apartments and streets packed with automobiles. The Tama River is one of two major rivers that flow through or near Tokyo. The Sumida River flows through the wide area called shitamachi that includes Asakusa, Kanda, Nihonbashi, Shiba, Fukagawa, and Honjo. The Tama River flows along the edge of Tokyo, and both empty into Tokyo Bay. During the Edo period, the Tama River, like the Sumida, was close integrated with the lives of the people of Edo; most importantly, it provided people with water through an aqueduct. Hokusai depicts a morning at the Tama River, when heavy pink fog is beginning to burn off to reveal the brimming river. A ferry with cargo and a few passengers crosses the river, while a tiny horseman, leading his horse, stops for a moment and looks up to admire Fuji. Although invisible in a reproduction, the lines expressing the rippling water in the white area are embossed. Hokusai's and Hiroshige's printers developed superb techniques, such as embossing and gradations (bokashi) of color, which helped to create nuances in landscape prints. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 62. Cat. 13) ***************** Mount Fuji rises beyond the mist over the Tamagawa (Tama River), one of the two major rivers flowing through the city of Edo. In this quiet morning scene, a ferry crosses the river, while a man leading a packhorse stops to gaze upon the mountain. Here the human and natural worlds are shown in harmony, with the miniscule scale of the people adding to Mount Fuji’s grandeur. This print is a fine example of the high technical standards maintained by top-level publishers such as Eijudö in the nineteenth century. The pattern of waves printed in blue outline over a graded bokashi wash continues as an embossed design over the white section of the river, adding a sense of texture to the print. Bokashi is also used effectively in the sky and the mist.

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The Tea plantation of Katakura in Suruga Province 駿州片倉茶園の不二 Sunshū Katakura chaen no Fuji

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Tea plantation of Katakura 45miles southwest of the summit of Mount Fuji


In this print Hokusai depicts the work and life of a tea plantation in Suruga province (now included in Shizuoka prefecture). Although no one knows when tea cultivation started in Shizuoka, its production in this region was already renowned during the Muromachi period (1329-1573). Since that time, Shizuoka has provided tea to all Japan, and now even to the world. One of Hokusai’s detailed compositions, the print shows a plantation edged by a winding stream in the middle ground. Rows of women wearing round bamboo hats pick tea leaves. Across another green field, probably another tea field, the snow-covered Mount Fuji rises. In the foreground, men transport the freshly picked tea leaves to storage on horseback and on their backs. Although of interest for what the composition shows of the workings of a tea plantation, critics find that it is too detailed and crowded – perhaps more appropriate for a book illustration than for a single-sheet print. Hokusai, formerly a book illustrator, here reveals his previous training and habits. But the coloristic treatment helps the overall clarity of the design. The key-block was printed in black. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 98. 50Cat. ) ***************** Suruga Province (now part of Shizuoka Prefecture) features prominently in Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series, with four prints dedicated to it. This print depicts what must have been a typical workday on the Katakura tea plantation. Shizuoka was known for tea production as early as the Muromachi period (1329-1573), and tea remains an important crop for the region today, being exported throughout Japan and the rest of the world. The print is filled with details: rows of women picking tea leaves, a man packing them into baskets, other men carrying them to a shed. Near the shed one of the workers repairs a horse’s straw shoe, while another attempts to coax his reluctant beast across a narrow bridge. Echoed by the shapes of the village rooftops, Mount Fuji rising from the plain adds a sense of stability and shelter to the scene.

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Mount Fuji from the mountains of Tōtōmi 遠江山中 Tōtōmi sanchū

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Mount Fuji from the mountains of Tōtōmi 40miles southwest (?) of the summit of Mount Fuji


Print shows two men sawing lumber from a large log and a man sharpening a saw while a woman, carrying an infant on her back, watches him, and distant view of Mount Fuji.

The print is one of Hokusai’s most extraordinary designs; in it, he employs the boldest geometry of his compositional devices. A huge piece of lumber is propped diagonally on two pairs of triangular supports of different heights. Mount Fuji, framed by the taller support, is seen entwined by a curling cloud. Two lumbermen saw boards from the timber, one standing on top and the other beneath it. Another man repairs the blade of a saw, while a woman carrying her baby on her back talks to him. A young boy warms himself in front of a fire from which a gigantic plume of smoke, echoing the shape of the cloud around Fuji, trails into the sky. A combination of triangles dominates the composition. The diagonal of the timber joins an upper triangle, formed by hills at the right and the skyline, and a lower one, which defines the space for the other workers’ activities. The long plume of smoke moving to the right counterbalances the thrust of the timber. Hokusai sometimes appropriated another artist’s designs. Through reduction or exaggeration he could create compositions far more striking than his sources. This particular design was based on a scene from Shokunin zukushi ekotoba (Visual Depictions of Artisans) by Kuwagata Keisai (1764-1824), (See Kono 1966, fig. 67.) Tötomi province is located in the western part of what is today Shizuoka prefecture. Pale blue and gray dominate the color scheme. The key-block was printed in blue.

Tsukuda Island in Musashi Province 武陽佃島 Buyō Tsukuda-jima

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Tsukuda Island in Musashi Province boats moored 61miles east of the summit of Mount Fuji


During Hokusai’s time, the island of Tsukuda was a fishing village lying near the mouth of the Sumida River. Hokusai views the island from a high position. Like any other fishing village, Tsukuda’s harbors are filled with rows of masts. Many different types of boats – fishing boats, cargo boats, and ferries – are being rowed to and from the island. Hokusai seems to take delight in the boats’ construction. He depicts their rising stem posts, gunwales, decks, thwarts, and rudder mechanisms in careful detail. The foremost boat, with its covered foredeck and a crewman hauling on a line, is masterfully foreshortened. Over the slightly curved horizon, snow-capped Mount Fuji rises near the center, and small masts of sailing boats appear at the left. The scene probably depicts sunset, not dawn, for Tsukuda Island is a deep shade of blue, which would convey the feeling of evening, despite the pink sky. The key-block was printed in blue. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 66. Cat. 17) ************** Tsukuda Island was located near the mouth of the Sumida River. During the late sixteenth century, when Tokugawa Ieyasu was ascending to power, he was supposedly assisted by the fishermen of a village called Tsukuda in Settsu (present-day Osaka prefecture). In return, he invited thirty-four fishing families to move to Edo and granted them an island east of the city, which was named after their former village in 1644. Hokusai included ships of varying types in many of the Thirty-six Views, often depicting them in great detail. This print is of special interest for its variety of vessels, from small rowboats and ferries in the foreground to larger masted ships in the distance. The triangular arrangement of compositional elements focuses the viewer’s eye on Mount Fuji near the center of the horizon, while the shapes of the masts, rooftops, and even the triangular prows of the boats echo the form of the volcano.

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Near Umezawa in Sagami Province 相州梅沢庄 Soshū umezawanoshō

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Near Umezawa in Sagami Province cranes in the marsh 31miles east of the summit of Mount Fuji


Along the coast of Sagami province in Kanagawa prefecture, the view of Mount Fuji is said to be dramatic, revealing the mountain’s classic beauty. Hokusai’s design in this print is particularly fine, expressive of the tranquil mood of Fuji, with its foothills that provide a refuge for cranes, Japan’s most sacred bird. At the foreground stream, bathed in the early dawn light, five cranes feed and two others fly toward Fuji. The mountain’s majestic cone, deep blue at the bottom and fading to light blue and white at the summit, rises above the green slopes. The combination of Fuji and cranes is auspicious and filled with meaning for the Japanese. The conventional bands of pink-tinted clouds cover parts of sky; some critics regret that Hokusai often used this convention to no meaningful purpose (Kondö 1966, no. 27). The color scheme is limited to two shades of blue, light green, and pale pink. The key-block was printed in blue. The reading of last character of the title of this print, hidari, may be a misprint. It should be read zai (or shö), meaning ‘manor’ or ‘estate’ (Kondö, ibid.), a district of that name in the town of Ninomiya, about 50 miles down the coast from Tokyo. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 68. Cat. 19) ******************** Cranes are a symbol of longevity in East Asia, where it traditionally was believed that they could live for a thousand years. This print shows five cranes in the foreground, boldly portrayed in shades of blue. Two more cranes float in the sky, with their wings extended to rise on air currents toward the mountain. Hokusai often implies an association between Mount Fuji and the sacred mountains of Chinese mythology, particularly Mount Hörai, believed to be in the ocean to the east of China (as is Japan itself). The comparison becomes explicit here, since Mount Hörai’s cliffs were so steep it could only be approached by immortals riding on the backs of cranes. The color scheme, emphasizing pale shades of blue, green, and tan with dark blue highlights, also imparts a sense of otherworldliness to the scene.

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Ushibori in Hitachi Province 常州牛掘 Jōshū Ushibori

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Ushibori in Hitachi Province boatman cooking rice 109miles east of the summit of Mount Fuji


Lying some 60 miles from Itako, in Hitachi province (present-day Ibaraki prefecture), Ushibori was on Lake Kasumi-ga-ura. Because it had an inland harbor connecting to Chöshi, many boats and ships stopped at Ushibori. A boat of gigantic scale anchors in the marshy water, its bow rising diagonally to the left, its stern concealed by a dune. Frightened birds fly away before it. Everything seems silent; no wind stirs the grasses. Beyond the dense reeds rises a snow-covered Fuji. A boatman washing rice for his dinner leans against the gunwale to pour out the rinse water. Hokusai is obviously interested in the life of this boatman, and he meticulously depicts the boat inside and out. The roof or shelter is made of kaya, a native plant of the area. The boat's cargo - sacks of some sort of product and reed mats - is stowed in an orderly manner, and on the shelf of the cabin are the boatman's books and ledgers. This evocative composition shows the lonely life of the boatman on a winter evening. Perhaps Hokusai, a strong, almost eccentric man and far from sentimental about human life and problems, here unexpectedly reveals the tender side of his personality. The simple color scheme, consisting only of shades of blue, green, and brown, creates a serene landscape. The key-block was printed in blue.

Ushibori was a small inland harbor on Lake Kasumi-ga-ura, about six miles northeast of Edo. The focus of the print is a large boat, the prow of which cuts diagonally through the center of the composition. The otherwise still evening is disturbed by a man washing rice; the cast-off water startles two herons, which fly toward the left edge of the print. The scene is accomplished predominantly in imported Prussian blue, with pale accents of tan and green. Also known as Berlin blue (from which the Japanese term beroai derives), this color was so popular in the early 1830s that the publisher Eijudö originally intended to use it for every key block in the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series, instead of the normal black. However, the synthetic ink apparently was too harsh for woodblocks, and the plan was abandoned for the final ten supplementary prints that finished the series.

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Watermill at Onden 隠田の水車 Onden no suisha

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Waterwheel at Onden 59miles east of the summit of Mount Fuji


Hokusai's print is full of action, depicting four farmers hard at work. The stylized water also adds vitality and motion to the scene. Hokusai was one of the pioneer artists to apply Western techniques (in this case, Western perspective) to Japanese art. This blending of traditional, stylized depiction along with Western perspective would become a trademark of Hokusai's style. (from Nostalgic Japan exhibition (6/8/2005-) - - - - - - - - - - - - In this print, Hokusai contrasts the activities of people completely absorbed in their task with Mount Fuji, remote and untouched by the human condition. In his time, mills for hulling rice were powered by the waters of the Shibuya River in Onden. Located between Harajuku and Aoyama, now one of the posh centers of Tokyo, Onden was still a sparsely populated rural area in Hokusai’s time. Nearly the entire left half of the picture is occupied by the mill’s waterwheel. This wheel carries water into a wooden flume that cuts horizontally across the foreground. Two farmers carry in sacks of unhulled rice; women are washing hulled rice in the water of the flume. A little boy, bored, leads his pet turtle on a string to the water. No one is conscious of Mount Fuji – they are all too busy with their labors. This print clearly exhibits Hokusai’s tendency to dissect his surroundings, whether natural or human, into geometrical forms and reassemble them into a coherent composition: rectangles of the mill and flume, the wheel’s semicircle, the triangle of Fuji, and the round shapes of heads, sacks, and rice tubs. The gestures of the workers recall figures in his sketchbooks, the Hokusai Manga. The key-block was printed in blue; the publisher’s and the censor’s seal appear at the lower left. (The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, HOKUSAI AND HIROSHIGE – Great Japanese Prints from the James A. Michener Collection, Honolulu Academy of Arts: The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1998 Page 80. Cat. 31) ****************** In this print, Hokusai once again reveals his penchant for scenes taken from daily life. Two women wash hulled rice in the foreground, while on the other side of the flume two men bring sacks of unhulled rice to the mill. A boy with a pet turtle on a leash watches to the side. Like many similar prints in the Thirty-six Views, the people are preoccupied with their tasks, oblivious to the splendor of the volcano in the distance. Now one of the most fashionable districts in Tokyo, Onden was located on the Shibuya River between Harajuku and Aoyama.

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Yoshida at Tōkaidō 東海道吉田 Tōkaidō Yoshida

36 Views of Mount Fuji #Hokusai Yoshida at Tōkaidō tea room with view 62miles east of the summit of Mount Fuji


This print is the only one in the Fuji series to show the interior of a building and travelers in the foyer and on the raised platform of a room. The sign that reads “Fuji-viewing Tea House” announces that the house serves tea as well as offers travelers a good view of the mountain. Two women already occupy the raised platform. One gazes at Fuji through a large open window, and the other may be ordering cups of tea from the waitress standing in the foyer with her serving tray. Pointing to Fuji, she seems to be advising her clients to view the mountain while waiting for their tea. The palanquin on the floor at the entrance, with one bearer visible, was perhaps used by one of these women. An old man in front of the palanquin repairs a straw sandal, pounding the material to soften it. Two men at the right, apparently exhausted after their long walk, sit on the platform near the entrance, puffing tobacco. The composition is somewhat similar to that of Turban-shell Hall of the Five Hundred Rankan Temple (cat. 28), where people gaze at the mountain from an outdoor veranda. This print is livelier, with more animated people. Before Hokusai became famous as a landscape print artist, he produced many prints depicting beautiful women, a classic subject. This print reveals that this earlier accomplishment also served him in his new landscape series. Yoshida, now part of the present-day city of Toyohashi, was a famous castle town on the Tökaidö Road. Here Hokusai makes his subject a scene of human interaction with Fuji, not the renowned landmark. Hokusai placed his publisher’s name, Eijudö, and its marking on the round hats near the door post, a witty way to include such an advertisement. The key-block was printed in blue.

Yoshida, now part of the present-day city of Toyohashi, was a famous castle town on the Tökaidö (“East Sea Road”). Here, Hokusai takes as his subject the interaction between different people arriving at a teahouse. Two affluent women sit on a raised veranda (their social class literally expressed through their highest position), admiring the view of Mount Fuji pointed out by the waitress. Above them, a sign reading “Fuji-viewing Teahouse” indicates the primary attraction of the establishment. In the left corner, a man rests on a palanquin (perhaps that used by the women), while another pounds a straw sandal to soften it for repairs. On the other side, two men pause to enjoy their pipes. The one on the right is a pilgrim to Mount Fuji; his hat features the character Ei, indicating that the print was published by Eijudö. Depictions of pilgrims and travelers bearing items with the marks of Eijudö are common in the Thirty-six Views. This not only was good advertising, but it might also have been a way for Nishimura Yohachi, the owner of Eijudö and a known member of the Fuji Cult, to symbolically complete his own pilgrimage to the mountain.

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Katsushika Hokusai

Born: October 1760
Died: 10 May 1849

Katsushika Hokusai was a brilliant artist, ukiyo-e painter and print maker, best known for his wood block print series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, which contain the prints The Great Wave and Fuji in Clear Weather. These prints are famous both in Japan and overseas, and have left a lasting image in the worldwide art world. Hokusai’s artistic influence has stretched to have affected the Art Nouveau style in Europe, including Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Hermann Obrist, all of whom have themes similar to Hokusai’s.

Hokusai began painting at the age of six, and by 18 he had been accepted into the Katsukawa Shunsho school, which honed his skills as a ukiyo-e artist, in which he specialized in wood-block prints and painting. After Shunsho’s death, Hokusai was expelled from the school by a rival, a humiliating experience which he later credited to his created development and artistic growth. This expulsion helped him break from the traditional ukiyo-e style of painting portraits of courtesans and actors, and begin painting landscapes and images of daily life. This change of subject was a breakthrough in both the ukiyo-e style as well as his career. He eventually broke from all other schools of painting and began teaching other students, over fifty in his lifetime.

Hokusai was a master of self-promotion. In 1804 he created a 600 foot painting of a Buddhist priest with a bucket of paint and a broom as a paint brush. There is also a story of how he won a painting competition in the court of the Shogun with a blue curve, a chicken with feet dipped in red paint, and in inventive and artistic explanation. At the age of 88, on his deathbed, it is said that he exclaimed that he needed only five more years of life, in order to become a real painter.

All Artworks Chronologically

Edo Five Routes


Each of the routes started at Nihonbashi in Edo. From that point, each road linked the capital with other parts of the country.

The Tōkaidō had 53 stations and ran along the Pacific coast, connecting with Kyoto. Once it reached Kusatsu-juku, it shared its route with the Nakasendō.
The Nakasendō (also often called the Kisokaidō) had 69 stations and ran through the center of Honshū, connecting with Kyoto. The Nakasendō's Shimosuwa-shuku served as the end point for the Kōshū Kaidō. Also, the Nakasendō merged with the Tōkaidō at Kusatsu-juku.<ref name="webjapan">WebJapan Atlas: Nakasendo. Accessed August 2, 2007.</ref>
Kōshū Kaidō
The Kōshū Kaidō had 44 stations, connecting with Kai Province (Yamanashi Prefecture), before ending at the Nakasendō's Shimosuwa-shuku.<ref name="yume1">Template:Webtrans. Accessed September 4, 2007.</ref>
Ōshū Kaidō
The Ōshū Kaidō had 27 stations, connecting with Mutsu Province (Fukushima Prefecture). There were subroutes that connected to other places of northern Japan, too.<ref name="yume2">Template:Webtrans. Accessed September 4, 2007.</ref>
Nikkō Kaidō
The Nikkō Kaidō had 21 stations, connecting with Nikkō Tōshō-gū in modern-day Tochigi Prefecture.<ref name="road">Template:WebtransTemplate:Dead link. Accessed August 15, 2007.</ref>



facts and details



Welcome to, an illustrated database of Japanese yokai.

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Hokusai: the influential work of Japanese artist famous for 'the great wave' – in pictures


Mt. Fuji from space

Why Japan's beaches are deserted - despite the sunshine.

The Hermit's_Wife

Hokusai Exposed: why great art should never be digitally remastered. A new show recreates the Japanese master's art so it looks like it did when it was originally made. It's a pointless exercise – and a creepy view of art's future.


External links

Good morning! The air of the troops today seems to stop. It is to tell the truth, I was 1 Aviation troops at hyakuri air base work. I remembered at that time. Here Mount Fuji well, taken from space two years ago today. Snow is pretty, but not visible like clouds are wearing the wedding dress?


Japan's sacred Mount Fuji in winter

Lake Ashi in the Hakone Hills in Early Autumn - 根湖水

Fuji From Lake Ashi (Morning View) — 芦ノ湖の富士(朝の景)芦ノ湖の富士朝の景#.WFiIfLGZPBI

crouching woman




Kasamatsu Shiro, Title:Gate at Enkaku Temple, Kamakura- Engakuji

Shunkan, the Ascetic of Hosshô-ji Temple 1840

Dance of the Gods at the Heavenly Cave

A 19th-Century 3-D Bird’s-Eye Map of Mt. Fuji, With All the Bells and Whistles

Mizuki's "Fifty-Three Stations of the Yokaido Road"

Mount Fuji, falcon and eggplants (Ichi fuji ni taka san nasubi)

Utagawa Kuniyoshi 歌川国芳 『あらためて狸のたはむれ』


Ryugujo 龍宮城 (The Palace of the Dragon King)


Kawanabe Kyōsai

Utagawa Kunisada

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861) Matsui Tamijiro fighting a giant snake, 1825

Tamatori-hime being pursued through the waves by the Dragon King and his retainers, including a giant octopus

Hello, Kitty: Japan's obsession with cats hits New York. Centuries before Maru the YouTube star, cats were revered in Japan – despite the fact they are not native to the country. That love endures, as a new show reveals.

woodblock print [1773-1774] Katsukawa Shunsho

Utagawa Kuniyoshi (歌川 国芳), Princess Tamatori in the Palace of the Dragon King (Woodcut print), 1853.

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Katsushika Hokusai

In this site dedicated to Japanese Woodblock Prints (Ukiyo-e and Shin-Hanga) you can:

Historic noted places of Mt. Fuji

Art of the Edo Period (1615–1868)