Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji: Viewing the Sunset over Ryogoku Bridge from the Onmaya Embankment
This woodblock print was produced by the ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai in the latter half of the Edo period. It is one of a series of 46 prints depicting Mount Fuji. The title of this series is Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, but its popularity led to ten more prints being added. Hokusai was included in the Life Magazine's '100 most important people of the past 1,000 years.'
This scene shows an area along Sumida River in present-day Tokyo, where shogun's stables once stood. A crossing boat is depicted against the backdrop of Ryogoku Bridge. In the center, a small Mount Fuji can be seen in the background. The bridge, the opposite shore, and Mount Fuji itself are depicted with minimal color, almost like silhouettes. The sun is setting and the color is gradually draining from the landscape. The black shading of the sky and the deep blue of the water suggest it is nearly nighttime.
Blue is also used for the outlines of the people on the boat, many of whom are looking down or away from the viewer. As we cannot see their faces, our gaze is instead drawn toward where they are looking. Though the title mentions the 'Sunset View,' the print seems to depict the quiet time after the brilliant sunset has finished, when the human figures begin to merge into the monochrome blue world.
This print and other early works in the Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji series often feature 'Berlin Blue,' a pigment introduced to Japan from Europe during this time. As such, these works speak volumes about Hokusai's interest in the latest artistic developments.