Japan | Woodblock Printing | Art

Katsushika Hokusai

September 2020

One of Japan's most famous artists


  Katsushika Hokusai lived from 1760 - 1849. We know him best for making the most famous woodblock print ever made: The Great Wave off Kanagawa.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa


  Hokusai grew up in Edo - the city we now call Tokyo. Hokusai started painting at a very early age. In his teenage years he learned woodblock printing at the Katsukawa school. Most of those artworks featured famous actors and legendary characters people would see in plays.

Self portrait of Hokusai

A self-portrait of Hokusai

Finding his style

  After a few years, Hokusai stopped depicting characters and started focusing on landscapes and 'snapshot scenes' of ordinary life

  While Hokusai mostly focused on those two subjects, he depicted them in wildly varying ways; some scenes have much depth and complexity while others are simple and serene.

Western Influences

  Throughout his life, Hokusai had become rather famous in Japan. Soon enough Western artists learned about his work. Many well-known artists such as Monet and Van Gogh collected, enjoyed and learned from his work.