Starting on February 15, the Honolulu Museum of Art will showcase Hokusai’s world-renowned ukiyo-e prints from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji during a year-long exhibition of one of his most beloved print series. The museum, which holds the third-largest collection of Japanese woodblock prints in the country, will highlight some of its most famous ukiyo-e in the newly designated Atsuhiko & Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation Japanese Thematic Gallery, one print at a time. Owing to the fragile nature of the artworks, each print will be on view for roughly two weeks. “This intimate display of individual works will offer viewers an opportunity to focus upon the subtle, technical details of each print,” explains Stephen Salel, HoMA’s Curator of Japanese Art. 

Guests can experience some of Hokusai’s most famous works, including Red Fuji (on view Feb 15–Mar 1, 2020) and The Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa (on view Mar 17–29, 2020), as well as Thunderstorm Beneath the Summit (on view Jun 9–21, 2020).

One of the most acclaimed artists in Japan’s history, Hokusai (17601849) was a pioneer who transitioned the ukiyo-e genre from the representation of people to the depiction of the natural world. He welcomed the influences of international artists, and was instrumental in introducing the European style of subject and composition to Japanese art. “Hokusai was quite revolutionary for incorporating into his woodblock prints concepts from Western art, such as foreshortening, linear perspective, and compositional structures that rely upon geometry,” explains Salel.

A constant throughout Hokusai’s famed print series, Mount Fuji (which is actually a volcano) assumes many forms in his work, from a focal point to a periphery detail. The tallest geographical structure in Japan, it has long been revered as a sacred site and a looming symbol of power. Hokusai’s depiction of the landmark in the many portrayals of Japanese life throughout his prints serves as a unifying symbol not only for the series, but for his country as well. 

HoMA’s long-awaited exhibition, Hokusai’s Mt. Fuji, will honor the series that commemorates Japan’s most famous landmark and memorializes the visionary work of Hokusai.

Hokusai’s Mt. Fuji is on view from Feb 15, 2020 to Feb 21, 2021 in the Atsuhiko & Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation Japanese Thematic Gallery.


Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849)
No. 1: Great Wave Off Kanagawa, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji
Japan, Edo period (1615–1868), ca. 1830–1832
Woodblock print; ink and color on paper
Gift of James A. Michener, 1955 (13695)