In One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji, Hokusai’s views of this sacred mountain exemplify his genius as a draftsman, his rich imagination, and his exploratory spirit. While Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji situated the mountain in the landscape of Japan, One Hundred Views explored the mountain in Hokusai’s imagination. The first volume opens with the Shinto deity of Mt.Fuji, Konohananosakuya-hime, “the one who makes the flowers bloom,” a sacred mirror in one hand, a branch of the sakaki tree in the other. From a coiling dragon beneath the summit, to the aftermath of Mt. Fuji’s eruption, each page explores Mt. Fuji through a fresh lens. To Hokusai, the mountain symbolized a longevity, a concept with which he had become fixated. In the colophon to the first volume, Hokusai expresses his fervent desire to reach age one hundred and become a true artist. Working under the name “Manji” at this time, Hokusai incorporated a stylized image of Mt. Fuji into his seal.
This three-volume set is a masterpiece of illustration, both through Hokusai’s inventive composition and unfaltering creativity. The carving for the first two volumes was a directed by Egawa Tomekichi, Hokusai’s preferred engraver. Nishimuraya Yohachi (Eijudo) originally published volumes one and two of One Hundred Views, however the Nagoya-based publisher Eirakuya Toshiro published volume three more than a decade later. Though the design for book three was likely complete in 1834, it was not published until 1849. At that time, Eirakuya acquired the original woodblocks from Nishimuraya to print complete sets of the series along with the final installment. The most likely explanation for this delay is the financial downturn that struck Edo during the Tenpo famine, as Eijudo faced bankruptcy in 1836. This particular set of One Hundred Views was published during the Meiji period by Tohekido.