Hokusai-Inspired Nautical Mt Fuji with Waves Anchor & Rising Sun
About the Artwork
A nautical-themed piece, in tones of marine blue, vermillion red and white. In the forefront is a yojijukugo or Japanese four-character idiom that says tenkuukaikatsu in Japanese. Literally, it means “open sky, serene sea”, indicating a vast expanse of air and water. In terms of personality it means someone who is magnanimous, a broad-minded person with a big heart.
I had a fun time drawing each of the elements: anchor, heart, ribbon, rope, waves, Mt Fuji, seagulls, rising sun. A striped pattern at the bottom gives the design a modern look.
Inspiration by Hokusai
This poster is inspired by the very famous ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock print) masterpiece, “Great Wave Off the Coast of Kanagawa” by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). It’s part of his “36 Views of Mt Fuji” series.
I first saw the actual work many years ago during a Hokusai exhibit at the Tokyo National Musuem in Ueno. A hectic work schedule allowed me to go see the exhibit only on the very last day, a Sunday.
Lining up for more than two hours, a friend and I braved the throngs of art fanatics and managed to make it out unscathed. Because of the exhibit’s popularity (the works were temporarily borrowed from museums abroad) the crowds were really horrendous, snaking for miles from the musuem entrance.
When we were finally able to get inside we only had literally a second to catch a glimpse of each of the artworks, so long were the lines that one simply had to get moving otherwise those behind us would have the doors close in on them.
Anyway, my first impression of the Great Wave piece was “It’s quite small!” Yes, at that time the small size surprised me. For some reason I was thinking it would be gigantic, of Great Wave proportions so to speak. But looking back, it wasn’t unusual for woodblock prints to be under A3 size, as they’re geared toward mass consumption. The original print may be small, but does make a huge impression worthy of its title and subject.
(Useless tidbit: I live in Yokohama, a city in Kanagawa, so really wanted to see this ultra famous piece. Here and here are photos I took of Mt Fuji and the sea, from where I live. No great wave sighted so far.)
East Meets West
Here’s the Pinterest-friendly version, a poster mockup without my watermark in the middle of the image:
The anchor thing with rope doesn’t appear in any of Hokusai’s works, but I love the nautical feel. I think it’s a universal symbol for all things sea adventure-ish, so the whole poster is kind of like East meets West. Hope you enjoy my piece as much as I had fun drawing it.