This slide presentation will highlight several woodblock prints from Hokusai's 36 Views of Mount Fuji. This series depicts the legendary mountain in a variety of locations, seasons and weather conditions.
Description: Hokusai first started this series in 1830 while he was in his seventies. His homage to the massive behemoth reigning over the lands of Japan is one of the most famous and reknown series around the world. The Great Wave off Kanagawa is most iconic appearing in many popular culture streams. One of the most famous folktales about the mountain peak is The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. This story begins with the discovery of a baby girl in a bamboo stalk by a childless and poor bamboo cutter. After taking the baby girl home naming her Kaguya-Hime and raising her as his own she soon grows up to be a beautiful young women. Word of her beauty spreads throughout Japan and soon many princes arrive to court her. Unmoved by their gestures she sends them away with impossible tasks, promising to marry anyone who completes them. When everyone fails the Emperor of Japan arrives to partake in the engagement process. He also tries in vain while Kaguya-Hime comes to the realization that she was sent to earth from the moon. Kaguya-Hime then returns to the moon and the lovesick Emperor sends his troops to find the mountain closest to heaven so that he can contact her. Before Kaguya-Hime left for the moon she had left him an elixer of life and immortality which he refuses to drink. As soon as he located the mountain it was justfully named: Fuji for immortaility and because of the activeness of the volcanoes on Fuji legend still tells of the moon princess' sorrow for her family she left behind on Earth. Respectfully Hokusai has decided to pay tribute to Fuji with his masterful woodblock printing techniques. All 46 prints were once on view at the Smithsonian museum in Washington D.C.
Exploring this lesson students will learn to identify each woodblock print with it's location.
This discovery will require students to enable careful looking and attention to composition.
Using This Resource:
For relevant supplementary materials and classroom activities, refer to the PDF posted under Related Resources at the bottom of this page.
The objects in this lesson are just a beginning. We encourage you to explore the Museum's online collection through this web resource—or even better, to visit the Museum and walk through the physical galleries—to look for other objects that will provide further insights into the relationship between words and images.
Created ByMFA School Programs