The Great Wave of Kanagawa and the 36 views of Mount Fuji

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The great wave of Kanagawa is part of the ukiyo-e called the 36 views of Mount Fuji. The famous picture of the waves is present everywhere in different formats when talking about Japan. What is the history and meaning of this famous?

The Great Wave of Kanagawa is called in Japanese Kanagawa oki nami ura [神奈川沖浪裏]. It is a famous woodcut by the Japanese master Hokusai and was published in 1830 in the series we mentioned. Ready to meet them?

Ukiyo-e - Portraits of the Floating World

Before we talk about The Kanagawa Wave, at 36 views of mount fuji or its author Katsushika Hokusai, we need to understand what a Ukiyo-e is, the portraits that Hokusai and many other Japanese Edo Period did.

Ukiyo-e [浮世絵] can literally be translated into portraits of the floating world, it is a Japanese print, a painting that usually shows female beauty, theater kabuki, sumo wrestlers, historical scenes, legends, landscapes, fauna and flora of Japan.

These engravings appeared around the 17th and 20th centuries and initially addressed serious and sad themes. The engravings were usually nailed to wooden blocks with a blank space excavated to make reprints of the original art.

In other words, these are not rare paintings that are somewhere, several versions were made of the original print. Nowadays really many pictures are rare and valuable. The artists had no limits, many of these prints were erotic.

The great kanagawa wave and 36 views of mount fuji
An example of the classic Ukiyo-e

The thirty-six views of Mount Fuji

Despite the name, the series Fugaku Sanjū-Rokkei [富嶽三十六景] has 46 wood engravings, 10 of which were added later. These Arts by Katsushika Hokusai portrays Mount Fuji in different seasons, climate, locations and distances.

Woodcuts date from 1831 to 1834 and were printed by Nishimuraya Yohachi main publisher of block engravings of the time. The ukiyo-e wood printing technique was what allowed the paintings to expand and become popular.

At the end of this article, you will find a list with the names of the 46 prints in the 36 series seen from Mount Fuji. See briefly some prints made by Katsuhika Hokusai that will also be spread throughout the article:

The great kanagawa wave and 36 views of mount fuji

Who was Katsushika Hokusai?

Katsushika Hokusai was the artist behind the Great Wave of Kanagawa and of 36 views of mount fuji. It is believed that he was born in Tokyo in the year 1760 and died in 1849 at the age of 89. In addition to the landscapes, the author also made erotic prints.

In his time, he was one of Japan's leading experts in Chinese painting, he gained a name in the West because of the Great Wave of Kanagawa. He painted all kinds of natural phenomena and produced more than 30,000 works during his lifetime.

Katsushika Hokusai had a long history, on his page on the Japanese Wiki we can see that he had aberrant behaviors, although his skills were poor, he had problems with foreigners, warriors and Kabuki actors.

It is interesting to see his thoughts and decisions throughout his life, how he revolutionized and even exported his prints to the world. Another curious fact is that Hokusai moved 93 times home, but ended up ending his life in the city of origin Tokyo.

At the end of the article you will also see a book with illustrations by the author called Hokusai Manga, as well as the possibility to buy his Kanagawa Great Wave Print. Before he died, Hokusai wrote a Haikai poem That say:

Now as spirit
I must cross
the summer fields.
Hitodama's
yuku kisan jiya
natsu no hara
悲と魂で 
ゆくきさんじや 
夏の原

The Great Wave of Kanagawa

In the Hokusai Print, The Great Wave of Kanagawa is a Great Wave that threatens a fishermen's boat in Kanagawa Prefecture, with Mount Fuji visible in the background. Despite its size, it is not a tsunami, but a normal wave created by the effect of wind and tides.

This painting is believed to have been made around 1820, being the first in the series Fugaku Sanjū-Rokkei and also Hokusai's most popular painting. Of the mold used, thousands of copies were made and distributed among collectors around the world.

This print is of the yoko-e type, that is, in landscape form it has a ōban size, 25 cm high by 37 cm wide. The landscape consists of three elements: the stormy sea, three boats and a mountain.

This painting became very famous in the 19th century. Where many artists from other places ended up buying a copy and spreading it around the world. Today it is possible to find this woodcut in several museums such as the British Museum and the National Library of France.

Hokusai even had an influence on famous artists like Van Gogh and Claudet Manet.

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is a great sacred symbol of beauty and national identity, the main protagonist of Hokusai's 36 paintings. The magnificent Mount Fuji is designed small in the background in contrast to the Big Waves.

The dark colors near the horizon and the appearance of well-covered snow-capped peaks suggest that the sun rises from the side of the viewer and is in the morning. Although it is not raining, the clouds in the sky indicate a storm.

The 3 boats

Three boats rubbed by the big waves are drawn on the screen. This boat was a oshiokuri-bune used to transport live fish at that time.

Each boat has eight rowers clinging to the sword, two or more passengers can be seen at the bow and about 30 people are in the image. People are rigid on the boat, contrasting with the dynamic waves.

The Great Wave

The sea is furious, showing the moment when the crest of the wave breaks. The curve of the wave draws an arc and forms a composition centered on Mount Fuji in the background. The splash of the waves spread across the front of the waves is like snow falling on Mount Fuji.

The height of the wave is almost the same as that of the boat at the back, the length of the push is usually 12 to 15 meters, and as Hokusai extends the vertical scale at 30%, the height of the wave can be estimated between 10 to 15 meters.

This wave is sometimes interpreted as a tsunami. This interpretation is from the 1960s onwards, before that, it was interpreted as a normal wave. No major tsunamis occurred in Kanto and Kansai during Hokusai's life. The waves in this painting have a short wavelength and cannot be a representation of a tsunami.

The great kanagawa wave and 36 views of mount fuji

Hokusai Manga and Wave Engraving

In 1814, the great artist Katsushika Hokusai published the first volume of his sketches: Hokusai Manga. Originally conceived as a reference for its students, it surpassed all expectations and has become a best seller to this day. 3

You can have the chance to buy 3 volumes on Amazon Brazil for a low price, without worrying about import bureaucracy. Don't miss the chance to see more than 4,000 images of the great Hokusai. You can also buy the painting The Great Wave of Kanagawa below:

List of The 46 Fugaku Sanju Rokkei Engravings

If we put the 46 large images in this article, it would weigh a lot, so let's just leave a list with a thumbnail image. I hope you like the list below:

NumberPortugueseJapaneseRomaji
1The Great Wave of Kanagawa神奈川沖浪裏Kanagawa-oki nami-ura
2Mount Fuji with Clear Weather (also known as Red Fuji)凱風快晴Gaifū kaisei
3Thunderstorm Below the Summit山下白雨Sanka hakū
4Fuji seen from the Mannen bridge in Fukagawa深川万年橋下Fukagawa Mannen-bashi shita
5Fuji seen from Mishima Pass東都駿台Tōto sundai
6The Coast at Kamakura青山円座松Aoyama enza-no-matsu
7Senju in Musashi Prefecture武州千住Bushū Senju
8The Tama River in Musashi Prefecture武州玉川Bushū Tamagawa
9The passage of Inume in the province of Kai甲州犬目峠Kōshū inume-tōge
10View of the Fujimi Fuji field in Owari尾州不二見原Bishū Fujimigahara
11Asakusa Honganji Temple in Tokyo東都浅草本願寺Tōto Asakusa honganji
12Tsukada Island in Musashi武陽佃島Buyō Tsukuda-jima
13Shichiri beach in Sagami相州七里浜Soshū Shichiri-ga-hama
14Umegawa in Sagami相州梅沢庄Soshū umezawanoshō
15Kajikazawa in Kai Prefecture甲州石班沢Kōshū Kajikazawa
16Mishima Pass in Kai甲州三嶌越Kōshū Mishima-goe
17Lake Suwa in Shinano信州諏訪湖Shinshū Suwa-ko
18Ejiri-juku in Suruga駿州江尻Sunshū Ejiri
19The Fuji from the Totomi Mountains遠江山中Tōtōmi sanchū
20Ushibori in Hitachi常州牛掘Jōshū Ushibori
21Sketch of Mitsui shop on Suruga street in Edo江都駿河町三井見世略図Kōto Suruga-cho Mitsui Miseryakuzu
22Sunset on the Ryogoku bridge from the bank of the Sumida river in Onmayagashi御厩川岸より両国橋夕陽見Ommayagashi yori ryōgoku-bashi yūhi mi
23Sazai Hall - 500 Rakan Temples五百らかん寺さざゐどうGohyaku-rakanji Sazaidō
24Tea house in Koishikawa. Dawn after a blizzard礫川雪の旦Koishikawa yuki no ashita
25Shimomeguro下目黒Shimo-Meguro
26Water mill in Onden隠田の水車Onden no suisha
27Enoshima in Sagami相州江の島Soshū Enoshima
28Coast of Tago Bay, Ejiri-juku in Tokaido東海道江尻田子の浦略図Tōkaidō Ejiri tago-no-ura
29Yoshida in Tokaido東海道吉田Tōkaidō Yoshida
30The sea route of Kazusa province上総の海路Kazusa no kairo
31Nihonbashi Bridge in Edo江戸日本橋Edo Nihon-bashi
32Sekiya village on the Sumida River隅田川関屋の里Sumidagawa Sekiya no sato
33Noboto Bay登戸浦Noboto-ura
34Lake Hakone in Sagami相州箱根湖水Sōshū Hakone kosui
35The reflection of Fuji in Lake Kawaguchi, seen from the Misaka pass in Kai甲州三坂水面Kōshū Misaka suimen
36Hodogaya in the Tokaido region東海道保ケ谷Tōkaidō Hodogaya
37Honjo Tatekawa本所立川Honjo Tatekawa
38Nakahara in Sagami従千住花街眺望の不二Senju Hana-machi Yori Chōbō no Fuji
39Tokaido Shinagawa東海道品川御殿山の不二Tōkaidō Shinagawa Goten'yama no Fuji
40Soshu Nakahara相州仲原Sōshū Nakahara
41Sunset at Isawa in Kai甲州伊沢暁Kōshū Isawa no Akatsuki
42Fuji slope of the Minobu River身延川裏不二Minobu-gawa ura Fuji
43Ono Shinden in Suruga駿州大野新田Sunshū Ōno-shinden
44The Katakura tea plantation in Suruga駿州片倉茶園の不二Sunshū Katakura chaen no Fuji
45Kanaya-juku Fuji in the Tokaido region東海道金谷の不二Tōkaidō Kanaya no Fuji
46Fucking Fuji諸人登山Shojin tozan
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