Art on Tuesday: Canary and Peony

This beautiful ukiyo-e  was made by Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾 北斎) in 1834. It is showing a flying canary in between peonies. The rich blue background and the pastel flowers are showing an interesting effect.

Peonies are growing in Asia, Western North America and Southern Europe. They are called 恵比須草 (ebisugusa, paeonia lactiflora) in Japanese. The roots of peonies are used as traditional medicine in China. Therefore they are regarded as a traditional floral symbol of wealth and nobility, also for good luck. Canaries 金糸雀 (kanaria) are a symbol of freshness and healing energies.


Art on Tuesday: Landscape

Totoya Hokkei 魚屋 北渓 (1780–1850) painted this picture in 1827. His ukiyo-e are often combined with poems as he illustrated several books. He is well-known as an excellent pupil of Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾 北斎.

Art on Tuesday: Mishima Pass

The Mishima Pass in Kai Province by Katsushika Hokusai (葛飾北斎) from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, picture no. 29, painted in the early 1830’s. In the centre you see a huge cryptomeria tree 杉 (sugi), which is a typical Japanese tree mostly growing at buddhist temples or shinto shrines. Three wanderers are hugging the trunk of this big tree full of joy. The man on the left is taking a break and is smoking a pipe. Three other people are taking the way down the hill. In the background you see Mount Fuji with a blue top with little white clouds. The weather is fine. 

Art on Tuesday: Sunset across the Ryôgoku Bridge

Today’s post shows another picture of the series 36 views of Mount Fuji by Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾北斎 of 1830. It is called 御厩川岸より両国橋夕陽見 Sunset across the Ryôgoku Bridge at the Sumida River in today’s Tôkyô. It shows a ferry-boat with some passengers and their luggage. The ferryman is moving the boat with a stick. In the background you see the Ryôgoku bridge and a blue Mount Fuji in the same color as the water in the front down by the ferry-boat.

Art on Tuesday: Mount Fuji seen from the Inume Pass


This ukiyo-e is part of the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji 富嶽三十六景. It is picture number eight: Mount Fuji seen from the Inume Pass in Kôshû 甲州犬目峠. The series is one of the best-known ukiyo-e collection by Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾 北斎 (1760-1849). Mount Fuji comes in brown lava color with snow on top. In the middle of the picture is a green grass path where two groups of two people and two mules are walking.  On the right side of the pass there is fog and on the left the white parts seems to be snow. You can see also  a huge  pine tree in the centre of the picture.  I like the colors and the calm atmosphere. Looks like it is early in the morning, and it is a fresh start.

Art on Tuesday: Seaweed Gathering


This ukiyo-e is named The Seaweed-gathering Ritual at Nagato. It is part of the series Famous Places in the Provinces by Hokkei Totoya 北渓魚屋 (1780–1850) made in 1834/35. It must have been a very dangerous adventure. Big wave are rolling over two seaweed-gatherers and they have to run for their lives. The left man holds a stick with brown seaweed on top, whereas the right person has some green seaweed in his hand. A little hill of green seaweed is lying in the left corner of picture, on the ground of the ocean. The waves remind me of the famous ukiyo-e of Hokusai named The Great Wave of Kanagawa. And this is no surprise, because Hokkei was one of Hokusai’s students, who was a fishmonger before he became an artist.

Art on Tuesday: Mount Fuji From Gotenyama


This woodblock print was made by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), probably the best known Japanese artist ever. It shows Mount Fuji From Gotenyama on the Tôkaidô Road at Shinagawa 東海道品川御殿山ノ不二, painted around 1830-1834. The picture is one of the series: Thirty Six Views of Mt. Fuji. For detailed information visit also the website of the British Museum, where you can explore many of his works.

Art on Tuesday: Snow


This snow beauty was painted by the most famous ukiyo-e artist Hokusai Katsushika 葛飾 北斎 (1760-1849) known from Japan. The elegant Japanese lady is walking through heavy snow. It has recently stopped to fall down, as one can see some snow is left on the umbrella and on the wooden shoe. She is feeling cold, although she is wearing multiple layers with different colors and patterns.  Her hands are covered in her kimono sleeves. The whole scene is presented in light colors reflected by the snow.

Art on Tuesday: Autumn Beauty


Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾 北斎 (1760- 1849) painted the Autumn Girl. I like the big blue flowers with their red leaves and slightly green branches on the kimono. They appear so lively. She is dancing and makes an elegant move with her fan in her right hand. She wears a richly decorated hairdress with pink flowers.

Art on Tuesday: Bon Festival


“Bon” 盆 is a traditional and very important summer festival in Japan, occurring in Mid-July and August every year. It is also called Lantern Festival. The Japanese believe, that the spirits of their ancestors are visiting their relatives on earth at this time. In order to help them finding their way lanterns are lit at the entrance and inside of their homes. Family Buddhist altars are decorated with fruits and vegetables.

The visit of the ancestors is celebrated with a Bon-odori 盆踊り, a Bon Dance. This is performed as a dance in a circle, the dancers are singing and clapping their hands.

At the end of the Bon Festival the dead ancestors are guided back by lanterns set on the river, at this time floating lanterns can be seen everywhere in Japan.


Left: The Seventh Month. Bon Festival, ukiyo e, 1793.
by Katsushika Hokusai 葛飾 北斎 (1760 -1849)

Middle: Bon Odori, ukiyo e, 1936.
by Takahashi Shôtei 高橋 松亭 (1871-1945)

Right: Bon no Tsuki, ukiyo e, 1887.
Taiso Yoshitoshi 大蘇 芳年 (1839-1892)