Beneath the Waves off Kanagawa, also known as The Great Wave, from the series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji Artist: Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760–1849)

ca. 1831

Asian Art

On view, 4th floor, Special Exhibitions

葛飾北斎 「富嶽三十六景 神奈川沖浪裏」 浮世絵錦絵 江戸時代

At first glance, snow-capped Mount Fuji looks calm in the background of this print, far from the boats and towering waves. But the mountain is slightly obscured by a boat whose sharp, sickle-like tip threatens to lop off Mount Fuji’s peak, and recent scholarship suggests that this print has political implications. Mount Fuji, a symbol of Japan, is menaced by boats and overpowering waves, both of which may imply a fear of foreign powers encroaching on Japanese shores. Indeed, in 1853, roughly twenty years after this print was made, the American commodore Matthew Perry led a United States Navy fleet into the Tokyo harbor and forcibly opened Japan to trade.


Ukiyo-e: polychrome woodblock print; blue key block


sheet: 9 5/8 × 14 5/8 in. (24.5 × 37.2 cm)

Credit Line

Frances Gaylord Smith Collection

Accession Number



Edo period (1615–1868)


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Frances Gaylord Smith (Mrs. George T. Smith) Collection; by descent to nephew Gaylord Donnelley (1910–1992) and Dorothy Ranney Donnelley (1910–2002); loaned in 1969, and given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1973
Object copyright
Additional information


Fugaku Sanjūrokkei: Kanagawa-oki nami ura 富嶽三十六景 神奈川沖浪裏 (upper left)


Hokusai aratame Iitsu hitsu” (“brushed by Iitsu, changed from Hokusai”) 北斎改為一筆 (upper left)

Technical metadata and APIs


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