Sundai Edo is part of Hokusai’s Thirty Six Views of Mount Fuji. As one of the thirty six landscape pieces depicting Mount Fuji in a variety of viewpoints, seasons and weather conditions.
Known as 東都駿台 or Tōto sundai in Japanese, this particular print is number five in the collection. Between 1830 and 1832 in the eponymous Edo era of Japan, Katsushika Hokusai was in his seventies and at the height of his career during the painting of the piece.
Notable for its unique style, Hokusai utilised the Japanese method of Woodblock Painting to create Sundai Edo. By drawing first on paper, the image is then used to guide the carving of wood. Following this, the wooden block is painted and pressed onto a separate piece of paper to create the image. The complexity of the method is furthered by the fact that each different colour required its own wooden block. In addition, Hokusai was well known for using a large variety of colours in his art style.
One can clearly see similarities between Sundai Edo and Hokusai’s arguably most famous artwork, The Wave of Kangawa (神奈川沖浪裏). The images of Mount Fuji towering in the background, the pastel-like colours of nature as well as the style of the Japanese people and their clothing. While the thirty six paintings are Houkusai’s most notable pieces on Mount Fuji, he released a book later on titled One hundred views of Mount Fuji.
Sundai Edo itself portrays Japanese farmers at work in the Edo period. Meanwhile, Mount Fuji looms far in the distance and examples of traditional Japanese architecture is visible in the foreground. With the trees a dark shade of green and the ground being verdant and grassy, it’s likely a depiction of Japan’s luscious summer.