Which Mountain is the Closest Place to Heaven: "Hokusai I" Collection
Ukiyo-e is a genre of Japanese art most popular from 17th to 19th-century, based largely on woodblock printing. Ukiyo-e translates as 'pictures of the floating world', and whether it refers to the Buddhist ideology, the hedonistic lifestyle of Edo's(modern Tokyo) merchant class or the transient nature of all things, it's spot-on.
The artworks depict long-gone beauties, once famous kabuki actors, scenes from forgotten folk tales... some of the things illustrated by Ukiyo-e artists remain unchanged till today though, mostly erotica and Mount Fuji. I'm sorry if i disappoint you, dear reader, but i'd like to focus on the posterior.
The artist featured in our first collection, Katsushika Hokusai, was obsessed with Mt. Fuji. Why? Maybe Hokusai's obsession came from The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, a 10th-century Japanese folktale about a man called Taketori no Okina(or the Old Man who Harvests Bamboo) and Kaguya-hime, his beautiful... daughter? Unfortunately, there's no term in English for an infant found in a shining stalk of bamboo. It's a captivating story of princes, aliens, love and bamboo that somehow ends with burning the elixir of immortality on top of Mt. Fuji*. Or maybe Hokusai just liked how the mountain looks. Who knows.
The fact remains, Hokusai was an incredible artist who changed Ukiyo-e forever and we're proud to share his artwork with you through our merchandise. Two of the three artworks featured by us come from Hokusai's Thirty-six View of Mount Fuji series, which actually consists of 46 prints. Let's take a closer look at them:
Viewing the Sunset over Ryōgoku Bridge from the Onmaya Embankment (Onmayagashi yori Ryōgokubashi sekiyō o miru)
Morning after the Snow at Koishikawa in Edo (Koishikawa yuki no ashita)
Whether or not it's a depiction of merchants, monk and a bird catcher on a ferry or a group on a teahouse balcony, our eyes get irresistibly drawn to Mount Fuji. I strongly recommend you take a look at the remaining 34(44!) artworks from this series - it's incredible how Hokusai manages to make Fuji the heart of the print, even if it's only a small shape in the distance.
The last print we decided to use is an eerie one - both in looks and the story to it.
The Mansion of the Plates (Sara yashiki)
That weird floating head is a plate demon. According to the folk version of this story, she wasn't always a floating head - her name was Okiku and she was a beautiful servant working for the samurai Aoyama Tessan. Tired of constant rejections, he tried tricking Okiku into being his lover, but the scheme went south and he ended up throwing her down the well. Obviously, she became a vengeful spirit. The story is called The Dish Mansion at Banchō and it's very scary when presented properly - The Ring is based on it.
Anyway, that's everything we've got for now! We chose to multiply these prints on phone cases, pillows, wall posters and tote bags. There's more coming soon, including clothing collections. If you're ready to get yourself a phone case everybody'll be jealous of or a creepy tote bag, click here!
*All jokes aside, it's a great a wonderful and touching story. It's also considered proto-science fiction, since it's over a thousand years old. How cool is that!? Another fun fact, the word 'fushi'(不死) means 'immortality'.