This compelling series contains some of Hokusai’s most mesmerizing designs. Encouraged by the commercial success and artistic mastery he achieved in his 36 Views of Mount Fuji series, which included The Great Wave and Red Fuji, Hokusai planned a set of 8 bold, evocative representations of Japan's waterfalls.
Hokusai chose eight waterfalls spanning the area 60 miles North and 300 miles West of Edo, between Nikkō Tōshōgu and the mountains of Yoshino, near the ancient capital Nara. He would use a vertical orientation for the series for maximum effect and to give the waterfalls a full range of expression.
A Tour of the Waterfalls in Various Provinces was the first series on the subject of waterfalls published in Japan. Hokusai was profoundly innovative in his depiction of moving water in its various states, elevating the art form.
The series extended his exploration of methods of composition in landscape prints and highlighted the importance of waterfalls in Japanese spiritual beliefs and practices. In Japan, waterfalls are frequently more than simply scenic attractions, they are also often closely related to Shinto nature worship and Buddhist philosophy.
Depictions of these falls were more than picture postcards; they were considered spiritual iconography. The collecting of the prints could be seen as symbolizing a religious pilgrimage to the actual waterfalls.