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Happy birthday, Hokusai!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 31, 2012 02:49pm | Post a Comment

Self-portrait of Hokusai from 1842

Today is the date traditionally recognized as the birthday of one of my favorite Japanese artists, ?? ?? (Katsushika Hokusai). Without a doubt he is one of (if not the) most famous Japanese artists of all time. His best known work is the ukiyo-e woodblock print series ?????? (Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji), published around 1831. The collection includes his single most recognized work, The great wave off Kanagawa.


The great wave off Kanagawa


Hokusai was born in the Musashi province of Edo (now Tokyo) in 1760. The exact date of his birth is somewhat uncertain although it is often said to have been the 23rd day of the 9th month of the 10th year of the H?reki era, which would be the 31st of October in the Gregorian calendar. His adoptive (and likely biological) father was Nakajima Ise, mirror-maker to the shogun. Since Hokusai wasn’t named as his heir – it is sometimes assumed that his mother was a concubine. Hokusai’s childhood name was
????? (Kawamura Tokitar?). He later went by ?? (Tetsuzo), ?????? (Nakajima Hachiemon) and about thirty other (usually quite colorful) noms d'artiste.

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