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Claude Monet was smitten by Japanese art: Impressionism and ukiyo-e

Claude Monet was smitten by Japanese art: Impressionism and ukiyo-e

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

Claude Monet was very important within French Impressionism and despite new artistic movements like Cubism and Fauvism altering the artistic landscape, he remained firmly committed to Impressionist art. Another major art theme which would shape Claude Monet was Japanese ukiyo-e because he was smitten by this art form when he witnessed it with his own eyes. Therefore, Claude Monet utilized these two powerful art movements and the upshot of this was stunning fresh art pieces which remain etched within the memory.

The Impressionist art movement altered the artistic world dramatically and created a new energy to art. However, for Claude Monet, and others, Impressionism was a philosophy which remained with him until parting from this world.

He was born in 1840 in Paris and died in 1926. Throughout his long life he created extremely stunning art which is internationally admired. From an early age Claude Monet adored art and in the early period he took lessons from Jacques-Francois Ochard. However, his early mentor who taught him about using oil paints was Eugene Boudin, a fellow artist, whom he met when still a teenager. Claude Monet and Eugene Boudin also benefitted from the influence of Johan Barthold Jongkind.

The year 1857 was very dramatic and full of sadness because Claude Monet’s mother died. From this period to the early 1860s he witnessed many highs and lows because other family members were opposed to his strong focus on art. In the early 1860s he served in the French army in Algeria and was meant to have stayed for seven years. However, after suffering from typhoid fever he was allowed to leave after two years because of the actions of his aunt and the reported prompting of Johan Barthold Jongkind.

Claude Monet in 1862 could once more fully concentrate on art but he wasn’t interested in following traditional art. He now became a student under Charles Gleyre in the dynamic city of Paris. In time he would meet powerful artists like Alfred Sisley, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Frederic Bazille. These artists were focused on new approaches to art and in time the Impressionist movement would radically alter the artistic landscape. Therefore, because of these individuals and others who were dedicated to new artistic concepts, a rich flow of art would galvanize the art world which remains vibrant today.

The 1870s was a very dramatic period for Claude Monet because the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 and the revolutionary fervor which gripped Paris, led to many upheavals. During the same period he was touched by Japanese print making called ukiyo-e. This love affair would stay with him for the rest of his life. However, the death of his wife from tuberculosis in 1879 after several years of illness shattered Claude Monet because he doted on Camille Doncieux.

Turning back to the impact of Japanese art on Claude Monet the writer Don Morrison, Time Magazine, commented in his article (Monet’s Love Affair with Japanese Art) that “One day in 1871, legend has it, a French artist named Claude Monet walked into a food shop in Amsterdam, where he had gone to escape the Prussian siege of Paris. There he spotted some Japanese prints being used as wrapping paper. He was so taken by the engravings that he bought one on the spot. The purchase changed his life — and the history of Western art.”

“Monet went on to collect 231 Japanese prints, which greatly influenced his work and that of other practitioners of Impressionism, the movement he helped create. Under the new Meiji Emperor, Japan in the 1870s was just opening to the outside world after centuries of isolation. Japanese handicrafts were flooding into European department stores and art galleries. Japonisme, a fascination with all things Japanese, was soon the rage among French intellectuals and artists, among them Vincent van Gogh, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and the young Monet. Perhaps for that reason Impressionism caught on early in Japan and remains ferociously popular there.”

While it is known that Claude Monet adored ukiyo-e you still have major debates about how Japanese prints influenced him personally. This topic is still up in the air to many art experts and the opinion varies greatly.

On the following website ( is stated that “Art historians do not agree about this point: was Monet really under Japanese influence, or did he seek confirmations of his own research in Eastern art?”

“However, an attentive eye can establish interesting connections. The influence of the prints on Monet’s art can be noted in the subjects he chose, in the composition, in light……But Monet knew how to be inspired without borrowing. His paintings diverge, from the prints by many aspects. The Japanese artists liked to feature the anecdotic or dramatic moments, Monet concentrated on light, which was the very subject of the canvas – the object was no more than (a) medium to convey the plays of light.”

Art historians can either play up or play down the influence of ukiyo-e within the art of Claude Monet. However, he was clearly charmed by the ukiyo-e of individuals like Hokusai, Hiroshige, and Utamaro. This isn’t open to debate because not only did Claude Monet buy vast amount of ukiyo-e art prints but he also created a Japanese garden in his cherished home. He, and many other important Impressionists, was clearly inspired by many aspects of ukiyo-e.

The cultural dimension could never be bridged because of different thought patterns and factors behind both respective art movements. However, the richness of ukiyo-e and the freshness of this style did reinvigorate many artists in Europe and North America. Therefore, while the degree of influence may vary to respective artists who adored ukiyo-e, it is clear that new artistic concepts within ukiyo-e did inspire new thinking within many Impressionists.

Don Morrison comments that Perhaps the greatest gift Japan gave Monet, and Impressionism, was an incandescent obsession with getting the play of light and shadow, the balance of colors and the curve of a line, just right — not the way it is in reality, but the way it looks in the artist’s imagination. “I have slowly learned about the pattern of the grass, the trees, the structure of birds and other animals like insects and fish, so that when I am 80, I hope to be better,” Hokusai wrote 16 years before his death at age 89. “At 90, I hope to have caught the very essence of things, so that at 100 I will have reached heavenly mysteries. At 110, every point and line will be living.” Monet spent the last decades of his life painting his water lilies, and then painting them again, until he lost his sight in quest of an elusive, transcendent perfection that might best be called Japanese.”

The love affair that Claude Monet found with Japan in his lifetime remains powerful in modern Japan. After all, without a shadow of a doubt Claude Monet is one of the most popular artists in this country. Therefore, the “love affair” worked both ways and this “spark” remains extremely bright today in Japan amongst art lovers.,9171,1573943,00.html#ixzz1uXJiJOmX

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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in EUROPE, Japan


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Japan tourism and culture: Hakone Jinja, historical treasure museum and Mount Fuji

Japan tourism and culture: Hakone Jinja, historical treasure museum and Mount Fuji

James Jomo and Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Hakone is a very popular tourist destination because you have so many places to visit and the views of Mount Fuji in certain locations are extremely stunning. Throughout Hakone you have many museums and cultural wise the area is very rich in history. This certainly applies to Hakone Jinja (Hakone Shrine) whereby the Shinto faith blends naturally with nature. Also, the historical treasure museum based on the rich history of Hakone Jinja is certainly worth visiting because you have several amazing gems to view.

Hakone Jinja (Hakone Gongen) highlights all the natural beauty of Shinto and how nature and the gods work in unison in this religion. The backdrop of Lake Ashi, the mountain landscape and Mount Fuji breaking out from certain vantage points is absolutely stunning. Therefore, you can feel the strong connection between nature and the mystical charms of the Shinto faith.

The exact date when the foundation of Hakone Shrine was created remains debatable but clearly it dates back to the eighth century. This means that this amazing religious place was built during the Nara Period (710-794) which is fitting for such an important shrine. After all, while Kyoto may hog the limelight for being significant in Japanese culture the truth of the matter is that the Nara Period is where high culture began. This isn’t undermining the exquisite beauty and richness of Kyoto but clearly the majesty of Kyoto built on the firm foundations of the Nara Period.

Mystical holy men in the eighth century called yamabushi believed that gods dwelled in mountains that were extremely steep. Therefore, by dwelling in the same places it was hoped that ascetic practices fused with the dwelling gods would lead to magical powers and greater knowledge. Not surprisingly, Hakone Jinja with its ideal location and mysterious majesty was a place where the dwelling gods may be found according to the traditions of the yamabushi.

During the ninth century new forces were entering the Japanese psyche because Esoteric Buddhism from China was making an impact. This notably applies to Kukai (774-835) and Saicho (767-822) and once more the importance of the mountain landscape is abundantly obvious. Therefore, a fusion began to take place between the Shinto faith and its animistic nature alongside esoteric Buddhism in parts of Japan.

Mountain asceticism under Kukai in Wakayama was also powerful. Meanwhile,  in eastern Japan, and this notably applies to Hakone and Nikko, the same asceticism could be found despite the thought patterns being different. According to history Priest Mangan travelled extensively to spread the Buddhist faith and in 757 he reached Hakone and during his stay very powerful events occurred in his life. This applies to having many encounters with the yamabushi during his three years in Hakone and learning new ascetic ways. However, the real lasting legacy applies to a revelation that Priest Mangan had.

In this revelation which occurred during a dream the fusion of many ideas manifested itself and the outcome was very important. The revelation in his dream stated that “Your heart is pure and clean. Let’s deliver mankind with the grace of Shinto and Buddhist deities.” This revelation impacted greatly on him and he notified the emperor who in turn valued the meaning fully. Therefore, the emperor notified Priest Mangan to build a shrine at once in order to fulfill the revelation and hence this is the origin of this holy Shinto shrine.

Issues related to when the foundations first began or if Priest Mangan incorporated older Shinto shrines remains open. However, major changes did occur during the stay of Priest Mangan and from this date onwards many powerful individuals in Japanese history understood the power of this place.

If you visit the small treasure museum associated with the Hakone Jinja then important individuals in Japanese history like Emperor Hanayama (968-1008); Yoritomo Minamoto (1147-1199); Toyotomi Hideyoshi who died in 1598; Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616); and many others, will be highlighted. The treasure museum may only be small but you have many gems inside and the images are extremely beautiful.

Indeed, maybe the mysticism of Shintoism is at play because irrespective of language constraints and the size of the treasure museum; providing you stand back and take in what you visualize then the visit will stay with you. This notably applies to the five items which have been ranked with having national Important Cultural Property.

Hakone is an extremely beautiful part of Japan and takes only 90 minutes by a special express train from Shinjuku. Your options and the special Hakone transport pass from the Odakyu train company means that your stay is convenient. Also, you can utilize the many forms of transport which are available when you buy this special transport pass.

Hakone is situated in the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and the entire region is a tourist paradise whereby stunning nature is in all directions and you have so many cultural treasures to view. This notably applies to the Narukawa Art Museum for modern Japanese paintings; the Hakone Open Air Museum; the Pola Museum of Art; Venetian Glass Museum; Suzuhiro Corp. Kamaboko Museum; volcanically active Owakudani geysers; Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands; Odawara Castle Donjon; Local History Museum; Museum of Saint Exupery and the Little Pince in HakoneHakone Old Takaido Road Museum; Hakone Mononofu-no-Sato Art Museum; Hakone Art Museum; Honma Yosegi Museum; Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History; and you have a wealth of parks and special walks to go on.

In Hakone you have countless options and of course if you stay several days to a week then you won’t be disappointed because the countless amazing views will refresh you throughout your stay. The religious angle of the Shinto faith and cultural importance of the entire area fuses naturally with the stunning landscape.


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Posted by on March 1, 2012 in Japan


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Hokusai and Hakone: Ukiyo-e and stunning scenery

Hokusai and Hakone: Ukiyo-e and stunning scenery

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Katsushika Hokusai was a sublime Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker and his art had many faces and styles.  However, when you think about the stunning nature of Hakone then the refined art of Hokusai springs to mind.

Alternatively, if you close your eyes and think about Hokusai’s shunga then you can enter seedy areas of Tokyo and images of Kabukicho come to mind.  Obviously both images may be an illusion but Hokusai’s art does have many sides and similar ukiyo-e artists went down the same path.

Hokusai clearly loved the view of Mount Fuji and visiting stunning places of natural beauty and both factors certainly apply to Hakone.  After all, Hakone rests within the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and in certain parts of Hakone you can witness sublime views of Mount Fuji.  Therefore, the entire region would inspire any exquisite artist to create picturesque scenes and clearly Hokusai fits the bill perfectly because he loved to express his passion for stunning views of nature.

The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and The Great Wave off Kanagawa are pure masterpieces in different ways.  Therefore, it is clear that Kanagawa is a potent region for spectacular scenery and a magnet for any artist who loves majestic views. Also, the size of the area means that views change quickly but remain to be a wonder to behold because of the natural beauty of the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park.   

International tourists and Japanese tourists head to Hakone because of the richness of the area which provides unbelievable backdrops amidst the mountain range and abundance of nature.  Not only this, Hakone is blessed with a plethora of places to visit and you can appreciate the richness of Japanese culture by visiting one of the many museums which are dotted around the main tourist areas.

It is easy to imagine Hokusai, Ando Hiroshige and a host of other famous ukiyo-e artists wandering around the Hakone region during their brief time on this earth.  However, despite the briefness of life Hokusai, Hiroshige, and other artists, have clearly left a strong and powerful legacy. 

In this sense, these famous artists have fused aspects of their life within the beautiful mountain ranges and landscapes of Kanagawa.  Therefore, the immortality of Mount Fuji is enjoined by the “immortality of art” by artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige who have inspired so many people and provided glimpses into the real Japan.

On a windless night you can imagine artists in the sweltering heat of summer and in the stillness of winter you can feel the changing temperature and how their feelings will have infringed on their art. 

The spirit world exists to some people but for others you have nothing but the ending of all life and only memories of others and the legacy of a rare few last more than one single lifetime.  Either way, you can feel that Hokusai and Hiroshige, and other sublime ukiyo-e artists, are still alive because of the powerful images they left behind and while the first love often fades into dust the beauty of art remains.

Hakone is not just a tourist destination it is about “your Hakone” and this applies to escaping the mundaneness of life or stresses of life which often eats away at people.  Obviously, for some tourists they may prefer to follow the usual routes taken by many and this applies to the main tourist attractions and plethora of places to visit.

However, for others a walk or hiking is their preference and for others they will want to find solitude.  Alternatively, the hot springs attract many individuals and some people desire to refresh themselves by enjoying the soothing reality of hot springs and if lucky enough you can find a special hot spring surrounded by stunning nature.

Hokusai had desired more time on this earth in order to express the stunning reality of nature and his art was like the most delicious wine because he continued to mature throughout his entire life. 

The Great Wave off Kanagawa shows the potent power of nature and just like the frailty of life the chaotic reality of life infringed on Hokusai.  This applies to the devastating fire which destroyed Hokusai’s studio and much of his lifelong work was destroyed in a single moment of chaos.

Luckily for humanity not all was destroyed and obviously many art pieces will have been bought before this tragic fire but much was lost.  Therefore, the frailty and chaotic nature of life which had taken away people who were dear to Hokusai now ravaged is “very being” and this must have impacted on his thinking.

At the ripe old age of 87 Hokusai had completed the Ducks in a Stream and he yearned for more time on this earth. Yet only God is mortal or the imagination which believes in God or gods creates this mortality irrespective if it is a reality or an illusion. 

However, the symbolism of Mount Fuji and its impact on Japan means that a special spirit or energy exists within this mountain.  In a sense, Mount Fuji is immortal and Hokusai, Hiroshige, and others, entered the immortality of the mind of others by their stunning art work.

Therefore, while each generation will turn to dust certain factors will remain because all cultures hand something down and preserve the best of humanity.  This certainly applies to Hokusai who not only left a rich legacy for the Japanese people but he left a rich legacy for the best of international humanity.

Hokusai showed glimpses of the beauty of this world through aspects of his work while shunga focused on the lustiness of humanity or the reality of sexuality, depending on your thinking.

On his deathbed Hokusai uttered “If only Heaven will give me just another ten years…Just another five more years, then I could become a real painter.”

In reality it would matter not, another five years or ten years because Hokusai had already left a rich legacy and the chaotic nature of life could not guarantee a fruitful extra five or ten years.  Therefore, the last moments of Hokusai’s life was tinged with the hope of more time but sooner or later God is going to knock on your door and what was, is no longer.

In 1849 Hokusai died but Nichiren Buddhism, Mount Fuji and the stunning and mystical mountains of Japan had served him well.  All these factors, and others, made him what he became and after death his candle did not burn out because the brightness he left still flickers strongly and will continue to do so.

This life is not mortal but images like The Great Wave off Kanagawa and other work by Hokusai means that his art is immortal. 

Language restricts humanity because of the plethora of languages but art at its best can defeat this because images can be viewed irrespective of the constraints of language. 

Therefore, a visit to Hakone is a real treat for people who reside in Tokyo or for tourists visiting Tokyo.  After all, Hakone only takes 90 minutes from Shinjuku by the Odakyu Limited Express “Romancecar.” 

In a different article about Hakone I state that “The “Romancecar” is a great way to travel because you can relax in comfort and you have a drinks and food service which caters for your needs.  Also, the Hakone Free-pass is a must because it provides great value and you can use it for 7 types of different transport.” 

“This applies to the Hakone Ropeway, Hakone Tozan Line, and other forms of transport.  Therefore, you can hop on and off different forms of transport and the scenic views from the Hakone Ropeway and Hakone Tozan Line is stunning; the different forms-of-transport also adds to your holiday because the quaint train journey is pleasurable by itself.”

“Hakone is home to famous spas and is located in a large historical zone and when you include this to the stunning nature of the Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and cultural attractions on offer; then it is clear to see why Hakone is so popular.”

The art legacy of people like Hokusai is another major attraction and while Hokusai’s time on this earth was between 1760 and 1849; you can feel close to him in places like Hakone because of the connection of his artwork with the stunning reality of Hakone.

If you want to fuse a sublime holiday based on art, history, and stunning scenery then Hakone is the place to visit. The main museums apply to the Narukawa Art Museum for modern Japanese paintings; the Hakone Open Air Museum; the Pola Museum of Art; Venetian Glass Museum; Suzuhiro Corp. Kamaboko Museum; Local History Museum; Museum of Saint Exupery and the Little Pince in Hakone; Hakone Old Takaido Road Museum; Hakone Mononofu-no-Sato Art Museum; Hakone Art Museum; Honma Yosegi Museum; and Kanagawa Prefectural Museum of Natural History.

Other places to visit include the volcanically active Owakudani geysers, Hakone Botanical Garden of Wetlands, Hakone-jinja shrine and Treasure Museum, Odawara Castle Donjon, and many stunning parks and gardens can be found throughout Hakone.

The Fuji Hakone Izu National Park and surrounding area is a tourist paradise and given the comfort provided by the Odakyu train company which offers a fantastic service via the special Hakone pass; then you can enjoy quality time and make the most of what Hakone provides and at the same time you can travel easily because of services provided by the Odakyu train company.

Overall, Hakone is a magical place and Hokusai, Hiroshige, and other famous ukiyo-e artists, may have turned to dust a long time ago but their energy and passion is alive by the legacy of their respective artwork. 

In Hakone and the surrounding region you can get close to their world because of the connection with the images that they left behind.   (Hokusai)  please visit

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Posted by on July 20, 2011 in Japan


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Utagawa Toyokuni: My pictures – they are merely something that I draw!

Utagawa Toyokuni: My pictures – they are merely something that I draw!

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Utagawa Toyokuni was born in 1769 and died in 1825 and he gave a rather negative comment about his artistic merits.  Indeed, many individuals have wide opinions about Toyokuni and he himself reportedly commented that “My pictures – they are merely something that I draw, and nothing more than that!”

However, modesty is part of Japanese culture and while not all Japanese individuals share the same trait it could just be that Toyokuni was too modest.  After all, some of his work is very striking and facial features are wonderfully mastered.

Toyokuni was one of the heads of the important Utagawa School and he certainly helped in the popularity of woodblock artists in the nineteenth century. 

Utamaro greatly influenced Toyokuni who was an ardent student and maybe this led to his negative comment about himself?  He may not share the same individual abilities of Hokusai, Hiroshige, and other more famous artists; however, he perfected art by focusing on past artists.  After this, he then created a distinctive style based on initial methodology and then manipulating his art form in order to create something new.

The main area of focus for Toyokuni after initially focusing on bijin-ga was Kabuki theatre and given his childhood then this made complete sense because he could connect with what he visually saw.  Toyokuni did produce bijin-ga but he will always be known for images of Kabuki but in his early period it is clear that Toyokuni was influenced by Kiyonaga and Shigemasa.

Sharaku was much more expressive and he would exaggerate his artwork based on creating a more intensive image that was outside of what the eye could see.  Therefore, Sharaku could take hold of your imagination and recreate the performance in order to put it onto a higher and mystical plain.

Toyokuni, however, focused on what the eye could see and while this may not be viewed to be so creative or imaginative; it was still very effective and expressed reality. However, some would argue that methodology and the reality side of many of his images meant that the intense nature of art was missing but this may be overstating the point because Toyokuni’s art was still expressive. 

Sharaku in the history of Japanese art is deemed to be a greater artist than Toyokuni despite the fact that fans of theatre on the whole favored to buy prints made by Toyokuni. 

It could be stated from an elitist point of view that the vast majority of theatre fans were not avid fans of art.  Therefore, this enabled Toyokuni to connect because he appealed more than Sharaku when it came to simplistic images.  This meant that he hit the nail on the head for the average fan of Kabuki.

Irrespective if this is an elitist comment or not; it is clear that you have merits behind this thinking because visually Sharaku was a completely different type of artist and internationally he is in a different league.

Yet, Toyokuni played an important role and he connected with everyday theatre fans and other individuals.  Also, his images were perfectly produced and showed the actor in the world of reality.  Therefore, while this may be deemed to be rather staid it does have its own beauty and facial features were very expressive.

Toyokuni was also a little harsh about himself but images by him do share aspects of Japanese culture and for this he should be remembered for simplification, great detail and a realistic approach to the world he belonged to.

Therefore, while Toyokuni may be viewed negatively in some quarters the fact is that he never desired to be something that he wasn’t and instead he focused on his own style.  This in itself is admirable and the fact that he helped this art form also means that he should not be undervalued even if the creativity side was not his strong point.

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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Japan


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Katsushika Hokusai: Japanese artist with a rich legacy

Katsushika Hokusai: Japanese artist with a rich legacy

Modern Tokyo Times

Lee Jay Walker

Japanese art in all its majesty can be viewed in abundance by the lifework of Katsushika Hokusai.  Hokusai was born in 1760 and he died in 1849 and despite living in the Edo period he was a free spirit from a very young age. 

Hokusai was a sublime Japanese artist, printmaker, and ukiyo-e painter and the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji represent a visual majesty of creativity. This series of artwork includes The Great Wave off Kanagawa and it was created in the 1820s.

The Great Wave of Kanagawa is a masterpiece and art lovers all over the world will know this acclaimed artwork.

Indeed, it was this print-series that made Hokusai an international figure because The Great Wave of Kanagawa and Fuji in Clear Weather showed the stunning natural beauty of Mount Fuji and the potent power of nature. 

Hokusai often changed his name and while it was common for artists to do this in this period it is clear that he took this to a different realm. 

At the age of 18 he joined the Katsukawa Shunsho studio after being a wood-carver apprentice between 14 and 18 years of age.  Shunsho practiced ukiyo-e and the central theme was images of kabuki actors and courtesans which was common for the time. 

Sadly, in the personal arena his first wife died very young and the same fate awaited his second wife. This must have impacted on Hokusai who had 5 children from both marriages.

Ironically, Hokusai developed after he was expelled from the Katsukawa School and it was during the same period that Hokusai’s interest in western art began to increase.

Hokusai stated that “What really motivated the development of my artistic style was the embarrassment I suffered at Shunkō’s hands.”

Hokusai by being forced out of Katsukawa School began to develop his own style because he now focused on landscapes and daily life in Japan and this cut across the social barrier.

After joining the Tawaraya School it dawned on him that he needed freedom from structures which while helping to enhance his skills; it also held him back from reaching the heights that were within him. 

After Hokusai published two collections based on landscapes called Famous Sights of the Eastern Capital and Eight Views of Edo.  He began to attract attention and now students began joining him in order to enhance their respective careers and to learn from a high quality artist.

The early 19th century saw Hokusai in increasing demand and for a short period he collaborated with the novelist Takizawa Bakin starting from 1807.  However, the illustrated books that they both worked on came to an end because of a clash of personality but it is notable that the publisher remained loyal to Hokusai.

In 1814 Hokusai, now named Taito (changed his name in 1811), published his manga sketches and for an artist like Hokusai this was a good way to earn money quickly and to gain more students who admired his work. 

B1820 he had published 12 volumes of manga and added another three and these consisted of thousands of drawings and many had wit within the drawings he did.  This form of manga was very popular and many drawings focused on ordinary people, religious figures, and animals and had a natural charm within the simplicity.

The 1820s would become a period of growth and in time this enabled him to obtain an international legacy but not at the time because of isolation during the Edo period.  Hokusai was now over 60 years of age but like the most delicious wine he matured magnificently and once more he had changed his name to Iitsu.

During this period he completed the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and the unforgettable and powerful Great Wave off Kanagawa was part of this celebrated masterpiece.  He also published other quality prints in the same period and this applies to Unusual Views of Celebrated Bridges in the Provinces and A Tour of the Waterfalls of the Provinces.

In 1834 he now changed his name to Gakyo Rojin Manji and in this period he also did major pieces of art in the area of landscape.  This applies to the One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji which added to his stature and the longevity of Hokusai also witnessed a greater spiritual dimension, where nature and the landscape seemed embedded within the soul of Hokusai.

During the last few years of his life other artists like Ando Hiroshige were emerging and in 1839 Hokusai’s studio was destroyed by fire and the fire ravaged much of his lifelong work. 

One year prior to his death he had completed the Ducks in a Stream at the ripe old age of 87 and on his deathbed he uttered the words that “If only Heaven will give me just another ten years…Just another five more years, then I could become a real painter.”

Hokusai died in 1849 and Nichiren Buddhism, Mount Fuji and the mountains had served him throughout his life and these forces combined to make him what he became and he expressed this through art.

After death and with the opening up of Japan he would influence many European artists alongside other notable Japanese artists like Ando Hiroshige. 

Hokusai, just like the mountains and nature surrounding Mount Fuji, is timeless and today people from all over the world get great pleasure from his art. This especially applies to the 1820 and mid 1830s period whereby Hokusai expressed such stunning landscape images.

This article is part one of several articles about Hokusai and the next article will focus on the erotic side of Hokusai’s work.  (Hokusai) (please visit)

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Posted by on June 1, 2011 in Japan


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