We can’t wait to go to Tokyo to see the new Hokusai Museum in Sumida! Opened on November 22, 2016, the museum offers an incredible synergy of history and old-world artistry with state of the art technology and cutting edge architecture. The artist’s Great Wave off Kanagawa is one of the most recognizable images in the world and for those of us in Hawaii who remember, was a fantastic mural on the side of the old nightclub, “the Wave” in Waikiki. His woodblock prints have been reproduced incessantly for over 200 hundred years so a museum dedicated exclusively to this artist’s work is most welcome to his fans all over the world.
Hokusai’s life and artwork are displayed and recreated in a number of exciting methods to draw the visitor into Hokusai’s world. Situated in Hokusai’s original neighborhood of Sumida, the museum ties Hokusai’s biography to places and sites in the area, making it feel even more relevant by seeing artwork and reality in close proximity. An animatronic Hokusai and his daughter Oei in a life-sized model of Hokusai’s studio are as close to being there as one could wish for.
A star of the museum’s collection of more than 1,800 works of art is “Landscape Scroll of Scenery at Both Banks of the Sumida River”, a 23-foot-long handscroll which went missing for 100 years after the item was taken out of Japan.
Ties to Hawaii ~ Peter Morse
An important part of the museum’s collection comes from the late Peter Morse, an accomplished art historian and author who lived in Honolulu. His son Daniel, a fellow Punahou alum, attended the opening and commented that “My father would be very, very happy, he would be very proud, and very honored,” he said. “I think Hokusai is the greatest artist who ever lived.”
Honolulu locals may best remember Peter Morse for his encyclopedic book, “Jean Charlot’s Prints: A Catalogue Raisonne” among his many publications. Marcia Morse, Peter’s ex-wife, continues to contribute to Hawaii’s art scene through her writing, serving as juror to numerous shows, and creating her own artwork.
If you can’t make it to Tokyo to see the museum, you can still treat your eyes to some of Hokusai’s original masterpieces at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Did you know that HoMA is home to one of the best examples of Hokusai’s famous Great Wave off Kanagawa? Thanks to the generous donations from renowned author James A. Michener in the 1950s, HoMA has a truly world-class collection of classic woodblock prints including numerous Hokusai originals. The museum presented a Hokusai exhibition in 2010 featuring the artist’s “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” in its entirety.
Several of Hokusai’s original woodblock prints are available for purchase from our gallery and we hope you’ll stop by to take a look!