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The Great Wave Off Kanagawa: Why Is It Famous?

the great wave off Kanagawa

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa is one of the most famous pieces of Japanese artwork in the world. But why is it so famous? What makes this Japanese wave painting so special? In this blog post, we will take a closer look at The Great Wave and discuss the reasons why it has become such an iconic image. Stay tuned for more information!

A Brief Art History Of The Great Wave Off Kanagawa

The Great Wave off Kanagawa is a woodblock print which was created by the artist Katsushika Hokusai depicts a huge enormous wave about to crash down on three small boats. The image is striking and has been widely reproduced, making it one of the most recognizable pieces of art in the world.

floating world edo period

Interestingly, the print was not originally intended to be a work of art. It was actually part of a series of prints in 1832 called the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, which were meant to be practical guidebooks for fishermen and travelers. However, the Massive Wave off Kanagawa quickly became the most popular print in the series, and it was soon being sold as a standalone work of art.

The painting quickly became popular in Japan, and soon it was being exported to Europe, where it was met with great acclaim. Many Western art artists were influenced by Kanagawa Oki Nami Ura, including the French Impressionist Edgar Degas.

Today, the Great Wave off Kanagawa remains one of the most popular pieces of Japanese print. It is often used to represent the power and beauty of nature, and it continues to inspire artists from all over the world.

Who Was Katsushika Hokusai?

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According to art history, Katsushika Hokusai was one of the most famous Japanese artists of the nineteenth century. He is best known for his woodblocks”The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” which depicts a massive wave about to crash onto the shore. Hokusai was born in Tokyo in 1760, and he began his career as an artist at a young age.

He studied traditional Japanese prints techniques, but he also experimented with Western culture styles. In 1820, he began working on a series of prints known as the “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.” This series included the iconic “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.”

Hokusai created thousands of other works during his lifetime, including paintings, woodblock prints, and illustrated books. He died in 1849 at the age of 89. Thanks to his innovative and influential artwork, Katsushika Hokusai is considered one of the most important Japanese artists of all time.

Hokusai’s Series Of Artwork

eiffel tower van gogh museum

Hokusai began painting waves when he was 33 years old. In 1797, he made a woodblock called Springtime in Enoshima. It was part of a series called The Threads of the Willow.

Mount Fuji and a stylized wave take up most of the left side of the picture, but a family standing on the beach is also a big part of the scene. These Japanese people are unique to Hokusai’s wave studies, which usually just show the sea and the land around it and not any people.

In 1803, Hokusai used the theme of waves breaking again. In View of Honmoku off Kanagawa, a ship sails past the trough of a big wave that is taller than it. This subject is styled, like the wave in Springtime in Enoshima. This second wave, on the other hand, is much simpler, bigger, and moves from right to left, which is very different from the first.

Hokusai made Fast Cargo Boat Battling the Waves two years after he made View of Honmoku off Kanagawa. Style-wise, this piece is very similar to the one that came before it. What makes it stand out, though, is the way Hokusai put it together. He put the wave’s crest on the left side of the scene.

french sculptor van gogh

Things We Didn’t Know Yet About Katsushika Hokusai.

His Work Influenced Many Artists In The West

The blue paint used in The Massive Wave is called Prussian Blue but it was painted in Japan between 1830 and 1832, when Japan was closed off from the rest of the world.

When the borders opened in the 1850s, Hokusai’s print work was recognized by many contemporary artists. Edgar Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec all bought his work, and Vincent Van Gogh’s work was heavily influenced by it.

After seeing The Massive Wave, Claude Debussy was even moved to write La mer.

He Wanted To Live Until He Was 110.

People think that Hokusai was born on October 30, 1760, but not even he was sure! Even though he was 70 when he painted the groundbreaking series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, he was sure that his best work wouldn’t come until he was 110.

“When I’m 80, you’ll notice real change. At 90, I will have learned a lot about what life is all about. When I’m 100, I’ll be a great artist. Everything I make at 110, this linear perspective, will come to life like never before. I promise to keep my word to everyone who will live as long as I do. I am old and writing this.”

metropolitan museum eiffel tower

He didn’t live to be 110. On May 10, 1849, at the age of 90, he died. He is said to have said on his deathbed, “If God had given me five more years, I could have become a real painter.”

One Of The First People To Use The Word “Manga” Was Him.

Between 1814 and 1819, he made a series of drawings called Hokusai Manga. It was full of funny pictures that his students and other aspiring artists could copy. It was a best-seller and one of the earliest uses of the word manga, which has nothing to do with the modern word for comic books.

He Was Known By Over 30 Names Throughout His Life.

During his life, Hokusai had more than 30 names, such as Shunro, Sori, Kako, Taito, Gakyojin, Iitsu, and Manji. He went by the name Gakyojin near the end of his life. He said, “I used to call myself Hokusai, but now I sign myself “The Old Man Mad about Drawing.”

Became A Pupil Of Katsukawa Shunsho, The Most Popular Ukiyo-e Artists Of The Time.

In 1779, he became an independent artist and started using the name Katsukawa Shunro. He created his first original print in 1783. It was a portrait of the Kabuki actor OtaniOniji III as the character Yakko Edobei from the play Sugawara Denju Tenarai Kagami.

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Before He Made This Wave, Hokusai Had Been Painting For 60 Years.

At the time The Massive Wave off Kanagawa was made, it was hard to figure out how old he was. Most people, though, think he was in his seventies. Hokusai started painting when he was 6 years old, and when he was 14, he became an apprentice to a wood carver. By the time he was 18, Hokusai was learning how to make prints in the ukiyo-e style from Katsukawa Shunsh. The young artist-to-be had no idea that this path would lead to Japan’s most famous piece of art.

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He Produced 30,000 Pieces Of Work

In his 70-year career, Hokusai created around 30,000 pieces of art. He is best known for the woodblock series The Fifty-three Stations of the Tōkaidō and The Hundred views of Mount Fuji, but he also worked in a variety of other formats, including painting, book illustration, and mapmaking.

He was the oldest person to be featured on a Japanese postage stamp

In 2008, Hokusai was featured on a Japanese postage stamp. He is the oldest person to ever be featured on a Japanese stamp. The stamp celebrates the 150th anniversary of the first publication of his woodblock series The Fifty-three

Things We Need To Learn About The Great Wave Off Kanagawa Mean

hokusai's work

What Does The Great Wave Off Kanagawa mean?

One of the most popular and iconic images in Japanese artwork is the Kanagawa Oki Nami Ura . The image shows a massive wave about to crash onto the shore, with views of Mount Fuji visible in the background.

While the meaning of the image is open to interpretation, there are a few possible explanations. One theory is that the artist, Katsushika Hokusai, was attempting to capture the power and beauty of nature.

Another possibility is that the image is meant to symbolize the transient nature of life, as the wave is about to sweep away everything in its path. Whatever the true meaning of the piece may be, it continues to enchant viewers centuries after it was first created.

What Does The Massive Wave Off Kanagawa Represent?

The Great Wave off Kanagawa is one of the most recognizable pieces of Japanese art in the world. The Hokusai’s prints, which was created by the artist Hokusai in the early 1800s, depict a massive wave about to crash down on three small boats.

While the image is visually striking, it also holds a deep symbolism. For many, the Wave represents the power of nature and the fragility of humanity in the face of its force.

Others see it as a symbol of the cycle of life, with the crashing wave representing death and the small boats representing the journey of the soul. Whatever its meaning, the Great Wave off Kanagawa continues to captivate viewers centuries after it was first created.

the great wave off kanagawa

How Much Is The Massive Wave Off Kanagawa Worth?

Well, that all depends. If we’re talking about the original woodblock print by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, then it’s worth quite a lot – around $30 million, in fact. But if we’re talking about a print of the image, then it’s worth considerably less. In fact, you could probably pick up a decent print for less than $100.

So, What Is It That Makes The Original So Valuable?

Because of rarity. There are only around 150 copies of the print in existence. But it’s also the history – the great wave is widely regarded as one of the most iconic works of Japanese art, and it has been influential for centuries. As a result, the great wave off Kanagawa is not just a piece of art; it’s a piece of history. And that’s something that money can’t buy.

What Happened To The Original Great Wave Off Kanagawa?

As one of the most iconic pieces of Japanese artwork, the Hokusai’s great wave is widely recognized around the world. But where is the original piece located?

Despite its name, the Great Wave is in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in France. The piece was created by the Japanese artist Hokusai in the early 1830s. It depicts a massive wave crashing onto a group of boats. Hokusai was influenced by traditional Japanese woodblock prints, and the Great Wave is considered to be one of the finest examples of this art form.

The original piece is made up of several different sheets of paper that have been glued together. It’s unclear how the piece ended up in Bibliothèque Nationale de France, but it’s thought to have been brought over by a French diplomat in the 1800s. Today, the Great Wave is one of the most popular pieces at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, and it continues to be an enduring symbol of Japanese culture.

Since it is a woodblock print, there are a lot of Great Waves to go around. The Metropolitan museum in New York City, the British Museum in London, the Art Institute in Chicago, LACMA in Los Angeles, the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne, and Claude Monet’s home and garden, which has been painted many times, all have prints on display.

What Kind Of Wave Is Hokusai’s Great Wave?

Hokusai’s The Great Wave Off Kanagawa is one of the most iconic images in all of Japanese art. The striking image of a large wave about to crash down on a group of fishermen has been reproduced countless time. It represent the power and beauty of the ocean also the breathtaking view of Mount Fuji. But what kind of wave is it?

Experts have debated the answer to this question for years, but the most likely explanation is that it is a tsunami. Tsunamis are relatively rare in the area where the great wave is located, but they do occur from time to time.

Katsushika Hokusai is aware of this. He was born in the city of Edo during the Edo period, which was devastated by a tsunami in 1855. In any case, the great wave remains one of the most enduring and mysterious images in all of Japanese art.

western stylle stormy sea small wave

Japan Kept This Wave From Spreading Around The World.

They print it  between 1829 and 1832. At the time, Japan trades with China and Korea only. It was tightly controlled. a The Dutch, only allows to do business in Nagasaki.

A lot of political pressure had to build up for almost 30 years before Japan opened its ports and exports to other countries. In 1859, a wave of Japanese prints swept across Europe. A lot of European Artists like Vincent Van Gogh, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, and a French artist like Claude Monet fell in love with these prints.

Politicians And Art Experts In Japan Didn’t Think It Was Real Art.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa became so famous that for most people in the world, it is the best example of Japanese art and culture.  Art historian Christine Guth of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London says, “In Japan, woodblock prints weren’t seen as art.

They use it express themselves, to make money and to print Buddhist texts. Now, they use it to illustrate poems and romance novels. So, the Japanese government and art historians were not happy that a form of art that seemed so simple had come to define them.

In A Sense, The Print Has Two Signatures.

In the top left corner of the print, there is a box with writing on both the inside and the outside. Hokusai carved the name of the piece and its place in the Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji series on the inside of the box. But to the left of it, he wrote “Hokusai aratame Iitsu hitsu,” which means “From the brush of Hokusai, who changed his name to Iitsu.” During his life, Hokusai changed his name more than 30 times. Today, they use it to tell the different parts of his book apart.

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It Inspired Music And Poem.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa has been the inspiration for countless pieces of art, music, and poetry. In 2010, the composer Tan Dun wrote an opera based on the print, and in 2012, the British band alt-J released an album inspired by the piece. The great wave has also been the subject of poems by Jack Kerouac and W.H. Auden. There is even a type of sushi named after the print!

On the cover of the 1905 edition of his orchestral piece The Sea (La Mer), the French composer Claude Debussy wrote about how he came up with the idea for it. There, a sketch based on “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” gave people who like music an idea of what his symphonic sketches look like.

Rainer Maria Rilke, is a poet from Bohemia and Austria. She saw how hard Hokusai worked to make his ambitions work. So, he wrote a poem called “The Mountain.” It starts with the lines, “Six hundred and thirty times, the painter tried to catch the mountain, tore it up, and then kept going.”

What Are The Thirty-six Views Of Mount Fuji?

terrifying emotional impact

The Great Wave off Kanagawa is part of the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. It was published in serial form between 1826 and 1833. It includes 36 designs, each depicting a different view of Mount Fuji from various locations around Japan. The series was very popular at the time and helped to spread Hokusai’s name both inside and outside of Japan. Today, the Great Wave off Kanagawa is the most famous image from the series.

Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan. It is one of the country’s national symbols. The mountain is actually a volcano that last erupted in 1707. It is 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. They can be seen from the city on clear days.

Mount Fuji has been the subject of art, literature, and film for centuries. One of the most famous works of art featuring the mountain is the woodblock print The Great Wave off Kanagawa by the Japanese artist Hokusai.

They create it in the early 1830s. The print shows Mount Fuji in the background as a massive wave crashes over boats near the shore. The Great Wave off Kanagawa is one of the most recognizable works of Japanese art in the world and continues to be a source of inspiration for artists today.

What Are the Ukiyo-e Prints?

upper left corner dutch traders

Ukiyo-e prints is a type of woodblock print that was popular in Japan from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The word ukiyo, means “floating world,” refers to the transient nature of life. It focus on pleasure and entertainment. The prints often depicted scenes from everyday life, such as kabuki actors and geishas, as well as landscape prints and scenes from famous historical events. Hokusai’s Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series is one of the most famous examples of ukiyo-e prints.

Europeans Like Ukiyo-e Prints A Lot.

From 1640, Japan is close from the rest of the world. Only China and Holland trade with them. In the 1850s, American naval commodore Matthew C. Perry forced trade to open up. After this, there was a huge influx of Japanese art into the West. Hokusai’s work is at the Japanese pavilion at the 1867 International Exposition in Paris.

This was the first time that a lot of people in the West learned about Japanese culture, and it led to a collecting craze called Japonisme. Also, Impressionist artists in Paris like Claude Monet liked Japanese prints a lot. All are present in Hokusai’s prints: the flattening of space, an interest in weather conditions, and the transience of modern city life. These things both confirmed their own artistic interests and gave them ideas for many future works of fine arts.

An Official Look At The Great Wave

berlin blue ukiyo e


This famous Ukiyo-e print from Japan has three main subjects: the wavy and powerful ocean, the three boats, and the faraway view of Mount Fuji. Katsushika Hokusai painted The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Hokusai shows a big, looming wave coming from the left side of the picture.

Also, there will be smaller waves in the foreground. The water moves back and forth from left to right and right to left, giving the scene movement and drama. What will happen to the people in the boats? Hokusai shows the moment right before the huge wave hits.

All fishing boats, have eight people rowing and what looks like two people near the front. All of the figures wear the same dark prussian blue clothes, which match the color of the water right below them. The boats are Oshiokuri-bune boats from Japan


The Great Wave off Kanagawa is a famous woodblock print by the Japanese artist Hokusai. The print depicts a massive wave about to crash down on three small boats. The wave is white with a blue-green tint, and the sky is a deep prussian blue. The colors used in the print are very simple, but they are also very evocative.

The white of the wave suggests the power of the ocean, while the blue-green tint suggests the danger that lurks beneath the surface. The deep blue of the sky suggests the vastness of the sea, and the small boats suggest the fragility of human life in the face of nature’s fury.

We see Mount Fuji in the distance, across from where we are looking. This also shows that Hokusai probably painted the scene in the winter. Some sources say that the gray skies behind and around the mountain are evidence of storm. Also, they pain it in the morning light. As we move closer to the foreground, we can see more white clouds in the sky.

Scale and Perspective:

It is a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Hokusai. The print, which was first published in 1829 as part of Thirty Six Views, depicts a giant wave about to break over the boats of fishermen. It is one of the most famous works of Japanese art, and has become an icon of both culture and the art world.

It is notable for its use of scale and perspective. Hokusai’s wave appears to be incredibly large, dwarfing the fine wind and boats and people in them. It creates a sense of awe and wonder and a sense of dread as we see the helpless fishermen engulfed by the wave.

The print also uses perspective to create a sense of depth; we can see the different levels of the waves, as well as the distant sacred mountain on the horizon. Combined, these elements create a powerful image that has captivated audiences for centuries.

Why Is The Print So Popular?

six views of mount

The Great Wave Painting off Kanagawa is one of the most iconic images in all of Japanese art. They saw the striking image of a large wave crashing down on a group of fishermen countless times. Also, it represent the power and beauty of the ocean and Mount Fuji. But what makes this print so special?

There are many theories about why the Great Wave Painting off Kanagawa is so popular. One theory is that its popularity is due to its simplicity. The print only uses two colors, black and white, which makes it easy to reproduce. Additionally, the image is easily recognizable, even to those who are not familiar with Japanese art.

Another theory is that the print’s popularity is a result of its mysterious nature. The wave in the print appears to be coming out of nowhere, and its size and power are intimidating. This mystery has led many people to speculate about the meaning of the image, which has only added to its popularity.

No matter the reason for its popularity, there is no doubt that the Great Wave Painting off Kanagawa is one of the most famous pieces of Japanese art in the world. If you ever have the chance to see it in person, it is definitely worth a visit! Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed learning about this iconic piece

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