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Katsushika Hokusai The Great Wave off Kanagawa, c.1830

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'The Great Wave off Kanagawa' is a famous woodblock print by the Japanese artist Hokusai. It was the first in Hokusai's series '36 Views of Mount Fuji' and is his most famous work. It depicts an enormous wave threatening boats near the Japanese prefecture of Kanagawa. As in all the other prints in the series, Mount Fuji can be seen in the background. While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami, the wave is more likely to be a large okinami or,"ocean wave". There are three boats among the turbulent, broken waves. The boats turn into the shapes of the engulfing waves. Tiny humans are tossed around under giant waves, while the sacred, enormous, snow-capped Mt. Fuji is just a hill in the distance. These swift boats, called Oshiokuribune in Japanese, transported fresh fish, dried sardines and the like, early in the morning, to fish markets off the Edo (now Tokyo) Bay, from fishing villages on the Bohso Peninsula.

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