Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji ( Fugaku Sanjrokkei) is an ukiyo-e series of large, color woodblock prints by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (17601849). The series depicts Mount Fuji in differing seasons and weather conditions from a variety of different places and distances. It actually consists of 46 prints created between 1826 and 1833. The first 36 were included in the original publication and, due to their popularity, ten more were added after the original publication.While Hokusai's Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji is the most famous ukiyo-e series to focus on Mount Fuji, there are several other series with the same subject, including Hiroshige's Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji and Hokusai's own later series One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji is a popular subject for Japanese art due to its cultural and religious significance. This belief can be traced to The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, where a goddess deposits the elixir of life on the peak. As Henry Smith explains, 'Thus from an early time, Mt. Fuji was seen as the source of the secret of immortality, a tradition that was at the heart of Hokusai's own obsession with the mountain.'The most famous single image from the series is widely known in English as The Great Wave off Kanagawa ( Kanagawa-oki nami-ura), although a more literal translation might be, 'Off Kanagawa, the back (or underside) of a wave.' It depicts three boats being threatened by a large wave while Mount Fuji rises in the background. While generally assumed to be a tsunami, the wave was probably intended to simply be a large ocean wave.Each of the images was made through a process whereby an image drawn on paper was used to guide the cutting of a wood block. This block was then covered with ink and applied to paper to create the image (see Woodblock printing in Japan for further details). The complexity of Hokusai's images includes the wide range of colors he used, which required the use of a series of blocks for each of the colors used in the images.A collection of Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji prints contained in the wellness spa of the Costa Concordia was lost during the collision of the ship on January 13, 2012.All forty-six prints (the original thirty-six plus the ten additions) were featured in the exhibition 'Hokusai: 36 Views of Mount Fuji' at the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, the Smithsonian's museums of Asian art, in the spring of 2012.
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