Inspiring Vision: The Great Wave off Kanagawa


"You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf." – Jon Kabat-Zinn

The Great Wave off Kanagawa, also known as The Great Wave, is one of the most famous examples of Japanese art in the world. The artist Hokusai Katsushika (1760-1849) is one of the greatest Japanese woodblock printmakers, painters, and book illustrators, and The Great Wave is one of his best-known works of art. It is both an energetic and imposing picture that drags you into the story and has you wonder how the story turns out.

The most eye-catching feature of the painting is the extended wave as it is about to break with the crash of its claw-like crest. The beautiful dark blue pigment used by Hokusai, called Prussian Blue, was a new material at the time, imported from England through China. The wave is about to strike the boats as if it were an enormous monster, one which seems to symbolize the irresistible force of nature and the weakness of human beings. Waves, like mountains, make us realize how small we are in the universe, yet we can still make strides to overcome these enormous obstacles.


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