Have you ever watched the movie called "Pursuit of Happiness" (Columbia Pictures 2006)"? Yes you are right!! Will Smith and his son played. That movie!! It seems that there is nothing to do with the movie and Kyoto Handicraft Center, however I do learn more about one of the most famouse artist in Japan. I felt that something is connecting.

Autumn is seasons of .... series is very fascinating topic that releasing the first blog in September. In this blog, I would like to focus on the life of Hokusai Katsushika. Perhaps most Japanese art lovers may already know his masterpieces. Discovering his life leads me to whole another perspective and as well as it will lead you too so let’s enjoy the journey of his life with me. 


They have something in common. Does anyone know?

Thomas Edison, William Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinchi,Walt Disney,  Ludwing van Beethoven, Katsushiki Hokusai

In 1998, a famous magazine from America called "LIFE" held a special issue “the greatest 100 people in this millennium” It is well known that he is a Japanese Ukiyo-e artist heavily affected western artists such as Van Gogh, Claude Monet and Edgar Degas. 

Woodblock printing developed along with the propagation of Budd. This was because the sutra for mission and Buddhist printings had to be printed in large quantities.Ukiyo-e was developed mainly in the three fields: beautiful women, actor, and landscape prints. In the Late Edo period(1603-1867), the technique of Ukiyo-e came to maturity. Today, Hokusai's work is highly regarded as work of art, but it was just merchandise at that time. You could buy his piece for less than $3(USD) converted to the current value.


Hokusa’s life style: is it universal that artists have strong personalities?

In Hokusai den (published by Kobayashi Bunshichi, Year 1893), there are a variety of records on what kind of clothes Kokusai usually wore and what kind of a house he lived in. To begin with, Hokusai did not care at all about his everyday personal appearance. As for his residence, according to “Hokusai-den”, Hokusai was “slothful and did not clean his room”. As he was not in the habit of cleaning, there was litter in cobwebs. Some say that he moved when his room becomes too dirty. To Hokusai, drawing pictures was his prime concern and he did not care in the slightest about keeping neat and tidy. He moved 93times in his 90 years of lifetime. The unreliable frequency of his moves is indeed an important episode that symbolizes how out-of-the-way a character he had.


Am I the only person think that artist are representation of “ Work hard, Play harder”?


There is various records of what he love to eat and drink in “Hokusai-den”. Many epole have testified that Hokusai did not drink alcohol at all. And he have loved sweets such as daifuku (sweet bean paste wrapped with rice cake). It seems that Hokusai was not interested in meals. He had three meals a day delivered from the neighboring shop, therefore “owned no tableware except for a teapot and a few tea bowls. When eating the food, he did not even bother to put it on plates and simply ate it with his finger without chopsticks.”


Nonchalant for money

You can take look at this masterpiece in our website 

Hokusai debuted as an “Ukiyo-e” artist at age of 20 and continued to his death at age of 90. Throughout his 70 years of career, there are considered to be approximately 3000 polychrome paints, more than 2000 woodblock printed books, nearly 1000 original printings, and serval hundred drawings confirmed as works by Hokusai. Judging from the magnitude of the works Hokusai produced, he would certainly appear to have earned a lot of money. It is said that he asked for double the price usually standard artists charged. Thus, Hokusai would appear to have been well-off, but that was not the case. He was so badly off that he was in need of clothing. He even sent a letter to his publisher requesting an advance on a commission for painting as he did not have any cash on hand. Hokusai had no interest whatsoever in saving money or leading an affluent life.


Lifelong theme: Wave

You can also take look at this masterpiece in our website

Perhaps one of the well-recognized masterpieces may be “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji: Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa”. Hokusai was the age of 70s, and he created this wave, but it is not as if he hit upon the idea all of sudden. Throughout his lifetime Kokusai continued attempts in describing waves and“Great Wave off the Coast of Kanagawa” was a state that Hokusai managed to arrive at as a result of his continuous efforts at the representation of waves. At the age of 86, he tried new projects, ceiling paintings for a festival float. Hokusai continued to pursue the theme of waves until immediately before his death.


His Death

In 1849, despite being the age of 90, Hokusai continued working diligently, however in the end, he fell ill and his life came to a close.
I would like to share his last words and never to return after this.

“If only I could have lived for ten more years,” and, after a while, continued, “if only I could have lived for five years, I would have become a true artist” (Hokusai-den)

How did you enjoy this blog? My goal for this blog was to share his unique lifestyle, personality, and mostly his passion led thousands of his creations to become masterpieces. We have proverbs like “the more troublesome a child is, the cuter he is.” I will strongly believe that he pursued his happiness although he has zero money management skills and did not care for the clean and tidy room. His message may be that “pursuit of happiness” means “do what you are passionate.” Now life is very hectic and chaotic. that is the reason why his message is very meaningful to us.

souce of thumbnail photo: National Diet Library Digital Collecition. 

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