Hokusai and the pursuit of perfection

Hokusai is by far the most famous Japanese artist in the world. The Great Wave off Kanagawa from “36 Views of Mount Fuji” is well known everywhere.

Hokusai was a creative genius but he was very humble. He painted all his life and was famous, but is known to have said- “I didn’t do anything worthwhile until I was fifty.” He also said, if I can keep painting until I am 110, I will finally learn the true nature of things.

One story about Hokusai demonstrates his genius. He was asked to participate in the drawing competition at the royal court of Shogun Tokugawa Ienari. For his depiction of the Tatsuta River in Japan with red maple trees, he drew a bold, blue curve on a white canvas with his paint brush and then chased a chicken with its feet dipped in red ink across the curve to make the leaves. Needless to say, Hokusai was the winner!


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