Yr 5, Katsushika Hokusai – printing (woodcuts) – Asia

The Great Wave off Kanagawa

What is it? (painting, collage, sculpture, print, film, textile…)

What words does the artwork make you think of?

Does the title tell you anything more?

Is the work about a particular place?

What is printing?

Printmaking can be both simple or complex. The essence of the printmaking process is ‘repetition’ , you can make many copies from one block or plate. A printmaker will design their artwork and then transfer it onto a flat surface (block or plate), ink is then applied followed by transferring the design onto paper or fabric.

Subject Specific Vocabulary: overlap, contrast, tonal, mark, experiment, sample, blend, uniform, enhance

TitleUnder the Wave off Kanagawa, better known as ‘The Great Wave’ series of 36
ArtistKatsushika Hokusai
Dimensions25.7 cm x 37.8 cm – there are estimated to have been 8000 prints made
PeriodEdo Period (Japan)
MediumWoodblock prints
NotesInitially prints from Japan were made with the blue dyes indigo and dayflower blue.

The Great Wave was one of the first to use the new Prussian blue, a new manmade pigment that did not fade. This was imported from China.

The woodblock print has inspired many generations of artists.
ArtistKatsushika Hokusai
Nationality Japanese
EducationAt the age of 12 he began work in a book shop, at 14 he was an apprentice to a woodcarver and at 18  he entered the studio of Katsukawa Shunsho (painter and printmaker). 


  • enormous
  • threatening
  • print
  • exciting
  • flowing
  • rounded
  • contrast
  • background
  • scale
The process is still the same today!