Mount Fuji has been an inspiration for many art pieces, but One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku Hyakkei) is one of the most famous ones. The artwork is by famed Japanese artist of the Edo era, Katsushika Hokusai. One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji consists of a collection of prints in one woodblock book. Fugaku Hyakkei came after the wildly successful 36 Views of Mount Fuji, which contained Hokusai’s greatest masterpiece, The Great Wave. The positive reception of its predecessor is said to be the reason Hokusai created One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji.
The Woodblock Series
The illustrated book is in three complete volumes. Hokusai started designing the first volume in 1834, and it is speculated that the third instalment finalised in 1835. Ehon were very popular in the Edo period in Japan because they allowed art enthusiasts to get complete works without paying too much. A woodblock book was created by first designing the artwork, which was the responsibility of the artist. Then experts carved out the designs, and finally, the illustrations went to print. One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji was printed three times when the artist was still alive, and since then, many more versions have hit the market. At the time, Japan was famous for two styles, Edo, which was the dominant one, and Kamigata. Fugaku Hyakkei pioneered the style of landscape ukiyo-e in Japan and its influences spread across Eastern Europe.
Mount Fuji through Hokusai’s Eyes
Mount Fuji has always occupied a special place for the Japanese because it was thought to be the secret to immortality but for Hokusai, it was a personal obsession as is evident from most of his artwork. In One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, he looked at the natural feature from all angles, in all its glory. The illustrations include depictions of Mount Fuji as a shadow, reflected in water and as an optical illusion. Hokusai portrayed the mountain as more than just a background. Art critics and enthusiasts alike have expressed the artistic skills that manifest themselves in the woodblock series. Photography was not around at the time, so ehon were done from memory. Art lovers can get different prints from the book to suit personal tastes. Fuji in a Thunderstorm, Fuji in the Mist, and Fuji in the Distance from Shimotsuke are some of the prints in the series.