INTRODUCTION
In the city of Edo, the late 18th and early 19th century was a time in which many creative people were suppressed by the shogunate.
There was just one man who took up a paintbrush against this tyranny, and changed the world: the legendary artist Katsushika Hokusai.
In an era when the average life expectancy was 40 years, Hokusai continued to paint until his death at age 90. At over 70 years old, this indomitable artist painted his great masterpiece, one that showed an even greater frontier—Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.
Great artists from around the world like Manet, Monet, Gogh, Gauguin, and even composers like Debussy were fascinated and inspired by that now-familiar wave. Now over 200 years, later, dive into the mystery of the true meaning of that wave, forever cresting and crashing in peoples’ minds.
This is the untold story of a man who fought for freedom. *Hokusai’s world-famous wave, from The Great Wave off Kanagawa in his series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, will be used as the design for Japanese passports issued from 2020, as well as new banknotes minted from 2024.
STORY
Edo was a place where the townsman culture flourished. In a dark corner of the city, there lived a poor painter. His name was Katsukawa Shunro, later to be known as Katsushika Hokusai.
His insolence got him expelled from his art studio by his master, and then there were many days where he was forced to go hungry. But one day, an opportunity came to Hokusai that would change his life.
Tsutaya Juzaburo was a renowned publisher who made the careers of artists like Utamaro and Sharaku, and he could see Hokusai’s hidden talent.
With Juzaburo’s encouragement, Hokusai learned the essence of art, and his talent blossomed. He produced revolutionary, unparalleled prints one after another, and became a hugely popular artist almost overnight. His fantastic worldview swept over Edo in the blink of an eye. Hokusai was now advancing the townsman culture even further. But eventually, he would also attract the ire of the shogunate…
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