By Lucca Bey
On the Saturday of February 8th, we were given the wonderful opportunity to explore the Freer Hokusai exhibit with a tour guide who gave us an in-depth view about the art, as well as its origins. Katsushika Hokusai was a very well renowned artist during the Edo period, with his specialties being in painting, and woodblock printing. I originally thought I knew nothing about him, but it turns out that he was the painter of something that I’m sure even those who know nothing about Japanese art culture can recognize.
Does this ring any bells? It certainly did for me! I’ve seen this image so many times and always thought it was so beautiful, but for some reason never thought to explore the artist, and this trip was so full of making connections and delving into something that involved my two biggest interests: Art and foreign culture. This entire visit was jam packed with our tour guide, Robin, teaching us about things that we couldn’t have possibly known by just looking at the art itself. Did you know that Hokusai was most interested in depicting all stages and places in life (i.e wealth, age, social status) in his art, and was exceptional at doing so, which definitely can be attributed to the fact that he came up as a poor artist and gained wealth as well as fame as his art became more and more sought after.
The entire experience was just so enticing to me, as it really let me explore into a different type of artistic subculture in Japan, giving me a hands-on lens into Japanese culture as well as history in a setting that happens outside of the classroom, which is quite a valuable experience for me, considering that I’m a more kinesthetic learner (meaning learning by doing, and physical interaction). All in all, I do hope that we get to do some more museum visits that have to do with Japanese history and how it has laid down the foundation for the culture in today’s Japan!