The sleek shapes of the Sumida Hokusai museum

Located in the popular area of Sumida in Tokyo and overlooking a small public garden, the Hokusai museum rises over 4 floors. It was designed by Sejima Kazuyo, the world-famous architect that is known for its original buildings with sleek shapes. It is the designer of, among others, the New Museum of Contemporary Art of New York (2007) and the Louvre of Lens (2012).

The building is composed of several blocks with geometric forms covered with aluminum panels which shine like mirrors. Bridges connect the various parts of the museum. Inside, the white is everywhere and the spaces are bathed in natural light.

The reception of the visitors is done in the ground floor where are also a conference room entirely glazed, the library and the shop. In the basement are the meeting rooms and conservation rooms of the works. The visit of the museum begins on the third floor and its permanent exhibition.

The museum houses a collection of more than 1800 works by the painter Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849), part of the Ukiyo-e artistic movement, meaning “image of the floating world”. Its iconic prints – The Great Wave off Kanagawa, or Mount Fuji in the storm – were made in this area of Sumida two hundred years ago. The permanent exhibition has as major theme the relationship that the artist has woven with the region. Temporary exhibition spaces will also take place, seminars and conferences will be held and workshops will be organized to allow anyone wishing to discover and deepen the work of this most famous Japanese artist in the world. Hokusai, an artist, always dissatisfied, would surely have been touched by the radiance of his work:

“At 90, I think I’ll be able to get close to the essence of art. At 100, I hope I would have reached the level of the marvelous and the divine. When I have reached 110 years of age, each stroke, each line of my designs will have a life of its own. My wish is that those who survive me will see the truth of what I have written.”

Afterword of the one Hundred views of mount Fuji (1834).

He died at age 89, leaving behind him a monumental work.