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Katsushika Hokusai's Best Work Came with Age

Updated: Sep 9, 2022

「富嶽三十六景 神奈川沖浪裏」 Under the Wave off Kanagawa (Kanagawa oki nami ura), also known as The Great Wave, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei)

Katsushika Hokusai was a Japanese painter and printmaker who lived from 1760 until 1849. Although the exact numbers are hard to determine, records indicate that Hokusai created over 30,000 pieces of artwork throughout his lifetime. Still, his most notable work is of the paintings he developed later in life. Hokusai is most recognized for his famous pieces such as The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Fine Wind, and Clear Morning.

Katsushika Hokusai. Self-Portrait as a Fisherman, 1835.

Hokusai's Early Life

Katsushika Hokusai's love for art began in his early stages of life. At around six years old, Hokusai began to paint the first of his many creations. Hokusai's inspiration to paint may have derived from his father, who was somewhat an artist himself.

At fourteen, Hokusai began an apprenticeship alongside a woodcarver until the age of eighteen, when he met Katsukawa Shunshō. Shunshō was an artist who made woodblock prints and paintings. Hokusai soon fell in love with this art form and later mastered the techniques.

The death of Shunshō pushed Hokusai to explore other art forms. As a result, Hokusai began to drift away from paintings focused on courtesans and actors and instead painted his admiration for landscapes and images that filled his daily life.

Kajikazawa in Kai Province (Koshu Kajikazawa), from the series “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjurokkei)”

The Inspirational Mount Fuji

Hokusai is known to be an artist inspired by the great Mount Fuji. Those who have studied Hokusai's artwork have concluded that his obsession with Mount Fuji was tied to his desire to become immortal. Hokusai believed that if he could live long enough, his art would have the potential to transcend the divine.

At the age of 90, Hokusai passed away, but to this day, his artwork still lives on. Several of Hokusai's paintings are found across the globe. From museums, restaurants, and houses, pieces such as The Great Wave off Kanagawa have become famous paintings to display.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Katsushika Hokusai is the artist responsible for the iconic Great Wave painting many of us would recognize. The most notable detail in this painting would be the dark blue pigment used to create the large waves about to break. This pigment of blue used was new in England at the time that Hokusai created the painting, making it intriguing to its audience.

The Great Wave off Kanagawa is a metaphor for the power of nature and the weakness of humans. When viewing the painting, you can also observe his inspiration, Mount Fuji in the background. Hokusai was 72 years old when he completed The Great Wave, and it is one of his most famous paintings. Before his death, Hokusai mentioned that nothing he drew was worthy of notice which has become motivation for aging artist to remain creative.

Kindness Studio Event

The Kindness Studio is hosting a workshop inspired by Katsushika Hokusai's, The Great Wave off Kanagawa. The event will be directed toward elders looking to express themselves through the creation of art. During the program, participants will have the opportunity to relax and create their own Great Wave.

The Kindness Studio recognizes that the UK has a large population of aging individuals experiencing mental decline and/or dementia. In an effort to combat the effects of aging on our brain function, the workshop is designed alongside a neurologist to help promote mental stimulation, release emotions, express individuality, and build relationships.

We encourage those seeking art therapy and creative experiences to join us at the workshop!


Hokusai - Wikipedia

Katsushika Hokusai | The Art Institute of Chicago (

A Brief History Of 'The Great Wave': Japan's Most Famous Artwork (

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