Collection Online

The great wave off Kanagawa
(c. 1830)
from the Thirty-six views of Mt Fuji series 1826-33

colour woodblock
25.7 × 37.7 cm (image and sheet)
Place/s of Execution
Edo (Tokyo), Japan
Accession Number
Asian Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Felton Bequest, 1909
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Gordon Darling Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display

The great wave off Kanagawa is one of Hokusai’s finest works and possibly the single most famous image in all oriental art. In addition to the sheer graphic beauty of The great wave there is a compelling force in the contrast between wave and the mountain. The monstrous wave towers above, with its impending crash of water creating a great tension, whereas the graceful lines of a diminutive Mt Fuji sit in the distance. We see tiny fisherman huddled in their sleek crafts ride down one wave, dive straight into the next and endeavour to come out the other side. These swift boats, called oshiokuribune, transported fresh fish and dried sardines in the morning to fish markets off Edo (now Tokyo) Bay, from villages on the Bohso Peninsula.