The Water's Surface at Misaka in Koshu


The term ukiyo-e, literally “pictures of the floating world,” refers to a genre of Japanese artwork that flourished in the Edo period (1600–1868). As the phrase “floating world” suggests, with its roots in the ephemeral worldview of Buddhism, ukiyo-e captured the fleeting dynamics of contemporary urban life. While being accessible and catering to “common” tastes, the artistic and technical details of these prints show remarkable sophistication, their subjects ranging from portraits of courtesans and actors to classical literature. Katsushika Hokusai was an artist and woodblock printer who contributed greatly to bringing ukiyo-e landscape imagery to a pinnacle, along with his rival Utagawa Hiroshige. His landscapes were more imaginative than naturalistic, rendered with a dynamic personal style and highly skilled observation of the scenery. This image forms part of his series Fugaku Sanjūrokkei (36 views of Mount Fuji), and is a witty portrayal of two seasons: while the actual scenery seems to be in summertime, the Mt. Fuji reflected in the left foreground of the lake is capped with snow. In addition, the panoramic view of the mountain range is not consistent with the reflection of Mt. Fuji, which can only be seen in this way by looking up from the side of the lake.

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1 print : woodcut, color ; 24.9 x 37.2 centimeters


  • From the series: Fugaku sanjūrokkei : 36 views of Mount Fuji.
  • Forms part of: Crosby Stuart Noyes collection (Library of Congress)

Last updated: September 18, 2015