By Takane Shoji
The Sumida Hokusai Museum is dedicated to world-renowned ukiyo-e artist, Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), located in the same Ryogoku area of Tokyo where Hokusai was born and spent much of his life. Newly opened in November 2016, this dedicated showcase celebrates his life's work and provides an in-depth look into all things Hokusai.
Before even stepping inside, visitors will be awe-struck by the contemporary look building, designed by Kazuyo Sejima (a Pritzker Architecture Prize winner) to be approachable from all sides of the angular, towering structure. It will surely become as important an architectural landmark for Tokyo over the years, as Hokusai became known for his ukiyo-e masterpieces.
The museum houses a permanent exhibition on the 4th floor, where you can learn about Hokusai's life, including the local area in Sumida where he grew up and lived his life. Multi-lingual touch-screen panels help provide an interactive, detailed insight into Hokusai's world whilst high quality replicas of his life's work adorn the walls.
Visitors will be impressed by the sheer range of ukiyo-e work he produced, including some of his most famous woodblock prints including 'Under the Wave off Kanagawa' and 'A Mild Breeze on a Fine Day'. One section provides a detailed overview of the woodblock print process itself (nishiki-e) and the steps required to produce these famous masterpieces. A full-scale atelier setting with life-life figures also portrays a glimpse into the prolific painter's working life.
The 3rd and 4th floors also house temporary exhibition space, which rotates every few months, including "The Return of Hokusai", which ran at the museum's opening, and a special 'Supporters of The Sumida Hokusai Museum: The Collections of Peter Morse and Muneshige Narazaki' exhibition running until April 2nd 2017, showcasing the many works amassed by some of the biggest Hokusai collectors.
On both floors viewing areas also provide good views of Tokyo Skytree in the distance. A museum shop and small library area are located on the ground floor too.
The Sumida Hokusai Museum is located about a 5 min walk from Ryogoku station (Ōedo Line) or 9 minutes from Ryogoku station (JR Sobu line). Entry to the permanent exhibition is ¥400, but does not include access to the temporary exhibition. There are discounts for groups, students and older citizens (children of junior high school age and below get in free). Temporary exhibition access is separately ticketed and includes full access to the permanent exhibition.
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