Katsushika Hokusai, ‘The Hundred Poems [By the Hundred Poets] as Told by the Nurse: Ariwara no Narihira Ason [Rokkasen]’, ca. 1835-36, Scholten Japanese Art

signed zen Hokusai Manji, with censor's seal kiwame and publisher's seal Eijudo of Ise Sanjiro, ca. 1835-6
oban yoko-e 9 7/8 by 14 5/8 in., 25.2 by 37.3 cm
The print references the poem by the poet Ariwara no Narihira (825-880), who is one of the Rokkasen (Six Immortal Poets). He was apparently exiled as punishment for an affair with the Empress. The Tale of Ise (Ise Monagatari), an anonymous 10th century collection of stories and poems, is believed to be based on his diaries.

kami yo mo kikazu
kara kurenai ni
Mizu kukuru to wa

Unheard of
Even in the age
Of the might gods
These deep crimson splashes
Dyed in Tatsuta's waters

The Tatsuta River, located six miles west of Nara near the Horyuji Temple, has long been considered an ideal place to view red maples in autumn. Much like Mt. Yoshino is famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring, the Tatsuta is famous for the red maples lining its banks and the fallen leaves floating on the water.

Series: The Hundred Poems [By the Hundred Poets] as Told by the Nurse

Image rights: Scholten Japanese Art

Publisher: Eijudo of Ise Sanjiro

Helen Craig McCullough (translation), Tale of Ise: Lyrical Episodes from Tenth-Century Japan, 1968, p. 141, poem no. 106
Matthi Forrer with texts by Edmond de Goncourt, Hokusai, 1988, p. 345, no. 430 (sketch) & no. 431
Peter Morse: Hokusai: One Hundred Poets, 1989, pp. 54-55, no. 17
Matthi Forrer, Hokusai: Prints and Drawings, 1991, no. 78
Gian Carlo Calza, Hokusai: Il vecchio pazzo per la pittura, 1999, p. 390, no. VI.12.3
Gian Carlo Calza, Hokusai, 2003, p. 378, no. VI.12.3
Ann Yonemura, Hokusai, 2006, p. 100, no. 68

About Katsushika Hokusai

Adhering to a common Japanese practice with extreme frequency, Katsushika Hokusai transitioned between upwards of 30 pseudonyms throughout his career, each correlating to a different period or style. Despite the many changes, his surname prevails—Hokusai—which unites the surplus of monikers into a single legacy for the artist, printmaker, and ukiyo-e painter. In his early work, Hokusai depicted the traditional subject matter of ukiyo-e woodblock prints and paintings, Kabuki actors; however, he monumentally revolutionized the medium by shifting his focus to landscapes and images of daily life in Japan. Hokusai is best-known for his woodblock series, “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” (1831), which mastered the landscape while exploring the relationship between man and environment, and contained the The Great Wave off Kanagawa, which remains one of the most universally recognized icons of Japanese art.

Japanese, 1760-1849, Tokyo, Japan, based in Tokyo, Japan