Ukiyo-e printmaking process of Hokusai's masterpiece, "Great Wave off Kanagawa"

The master drawing

Finished print



Carving woodblocks while remaining faithful to the original

The carver outlines artist’s lines faithfully and lively with using the carving knife.

Appling the paste on the woodblock. Turning the master drawing upside down and pasting it to the woodblock. The master drawing is carved away during the carving process.

The carver outlines the lines on the master drawing.

Chipping away larger unnecessary areas with chisels.

A fine chisel is used to cut away in more detailed areas.

The key block is finished and ready to be printed.


Accurately reproducing vivid colors

The Printer prints each color by hand. Vivid colors are emerging as the artist directed.

The pigment is applied on the woodblock with a small brush.

Washi paper is placed on the woodblock and line up using the registration marks.

The pigment is rubbed into the paper with using a Baren, rubbing pad The printer prints with perfectly consistent pressure.

The top of the printing table (suridai) is lower on the near side, allowing the printer to apply his body weight on the rubbing pad (baren) in the printing process.

This printing process is repeated for each color block.

Printing Process of "Great Wave off Kanagawa" By Hokusai Katsushika


the outlines


the yellow color of the boat


the gray color of the boat


the light pink color of the sky


the gray color of the sky


the black color of the sky


the light blue color of the wave


the blue color of the wave