Japan's great artist: Katsushika Hokusai! Let's go to the Sumida Hokusai Museum

Let’s appreciate the work of Katsushika Hokusai, world’s famous artist, at the Sumida Hokusai Museum! Here, we are going to introduce the masterpieces you can see in the museum.

Who was Katsushika Hokusai?

How much do you know about Katsushika Hokusai? Katsushika Hokusai was an artist active in the late Edo period, around the 19th century. Hokusai was enthusiastic about creating art works for his whole life. Until his death, he presented over 30,000 works in total. Hokusai gained a worldwide reputation for the quality of his art works, and some of the greatest artists in the world such as Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne are said to have been influenced by his works.

Sumida, where Katsushika Hokusai was born, raised and lived

Hokusai was born in an area around Kamezawa, Sumida in 1760, and since then he spent most of his 90-year lifetime in Sumida and created numerous works there. For this reason, the Sumida Hokusai Museum, the museum we introduce this time, is located in Sumida.

A museum which presents the charm of Sumida and Hokusai

Besides introducing the works of Katsushika Hokusai and those of his pupils, the Sumida Hokusai Museum also explains intelligibly the relationship between Hokusai and Sumida, and aims to popularize the charm of Hokusai and Sumida widely both in Japan and abroad. There are approximately 18,000 collected works related to Hokusai in the museum. You can appreciate a lot of precious masterpieces taken over from collectors of Hokusai’s works.

What is ukiyo-e?

Before I introduce the masterpieces you can see in the museum, let me tell you about ukiyo-e first.

Ukiyo-e is one of the genres of Japanese paintings. The word “Ukiyo” literally means “floating world”, which implies a contemporary style and a hedonistic lifestyle, sometimes erotica as well. By depicting prostitutes and entertainers, the custom of the Edo period is represented in an ukiyo-e. Ukiyo-e thus gained popularity among the ordinary people, as it represents the daily life closely related to them.

There were many ukiyo-e painters back in the period. Among all of them, Hokisai is the top for both his techniques and his fame. So if you want to know about ukiyo-e, appreciating Hokusai’s works is definitely a good start!

Highlight 1: "Sumidagawa ryogan keshiki zukan"

In The Sumida Hokusai Museum, there are plenty of great works of Hokusai.

Among the many works in the museum, “Sumidagawa ryogan keshiki zukan” is a must-see. This work is 7 metres long, which is impressively big, considering it is purely handcrafted. It was created when Hokusai was 46 years old. It features distinctive depictions and the style of shadowing, which was influenced by western style of paintings. “Sumidagawa ryogan keshiki zukan” is regarded as one of the most representative masterpieces of Hokusai in his middle adulthood.

A mysterious artwork

Aside from the magnificence of the work, attentions are also attracted by its mystery – it was once missing.

This great work had been missing for years before it was just discovered right before the opening of the museum. It was then returned to its hometown, Sumida, for the first time after leaving for more than 100 years. So this is the dramatic and mysterious story of “Sumidagawa ryogan keshiki zukan” that makes the masterpiece more appealing.

Highlight 2: "Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji" (fugaku sanjurokkei)

“Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” (fugaku sanjurokkei in Japanese) is another must-see representative work of Hokusai. The series was published when Hokusai was 72 years old. Using perspective, the scenery of Mt. Fuji was depicted vividly. The colour blue, which was considered trendy at that time, was adopted in this work. It shows that Hokusai tended to incorporate new elements even in his later years, trying to produce better works throughout his whole life.

Highlight 3: the museum building itself – the work of a world-class architect

This museum building itself is also one of the highlights for its modern architectural design. Kazuyo Sejima is the architect who designed the museum building. In 2010, she was awarded the Pritzker Prize, which is commonly called “Nobel Prize of Architecture”. The scenery around the museum is reflected on the surface of the building, which is made of aluminum. This way, the museum is perfectly integrated with the cityscape. Don’t forget take a look at the unique architecture!

Let's appreciate the great works of Katsushika Hokusai, the top artist of Japan!

Katsushika Hokusai is such a top artist who has a great influence on painters in all over the world. The Sumida Hokusai Museum has a good collection of luxurious art works, so it is a must-visit place if you are keen on Japanese art. Through the works of Hokusai which excellently depicts landscapes and local people’s daily life in Japan, we can feel the history and the atmosphere at that time. To appreciate the wonderful works of Hokusai, buy air tickets with us right now!