Katsushika Hokusai (October 31, 1760 – May 10, 1849), Japan’s best known artist, is ironically Japan’s least Japanese artist. known as Hokusai. He was extremely productive (over 30,000 art works) and deeply influenced by Western art, esp. Dutch landscape and nature. In return, Hokusai’s works influenced Western artists such as Van Gogh and Whistler. Hokusai’s best-known work, and Japan’s most famous painting is “The Great Wave”, which is actually Western art seen through the style of Japanese art.
In an exhaustive 2017 feature story on Mount Fuji, Smithsonian magazine columnist Franz Lidz wrote: "Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji juxtaposed the mountain’s calm permanence with the turbulence of nature and flux of daily life. The long cycle of Fuji views—which would expand to 146—began in 1830 when Hokusai was 70 and continued until his death at 88. In the first plate of his second series, One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji, the mountain’s patron Shinto goddess, Konohanasakuya-hime, rises from the chaos and mists of antiquity. She embodies the center of the universe, emerging from the earth during a single night. Hokusai shows us glimpses of Fuji from a tea plantation, a bamboo grove and an old tree stump, framed by cherry blossoms, through a trellis, across a rice field, in a snowstorm, beneath the arch of a bridge, beyond an umbrella set out to dry, as a painted screen in a courtesan’s boudoir, cupped in the claw-like fume of a wave reaching its grip over fishing boats.
Hokusai created the "Thirty-Six Views" both as a response to a domestic travel boom and as part of a personal obsession with Mount Fuji. It was this series, specifically The Great Wave print and Fine Wind, Clear Morning, that secured Hokusai’s fame both in Japan and overseas. As historian Richard Lane concludes, "Indeed, if there is one work that made Hokusai's name, both in Japan and abroad, it must be this monumental print-series”. While Hokusai's work prior to this series is certainly important, it was not until this series that he gained broad recognition.