Katsushika Hokusai 1760-1849

Pictures of 100 poems by 100 poets, explained by a Wet Nurse
Visipix.com proudly presents Hokusais last great series as complete as possible
(89 pictures) in facsimile quality in the original Oban-size 15 x 10 inch.


Poem number 61
Lady Ise no Tayu (Ise no Osuke) died 1063, governor family

The original poem:
Eight-fold cherry flowers
That at Nara,--ancient seat
Of Our State,--have bloomed;--
In Our nine-fold Palace court
Shed their sweet perfume to-day.

A situational poem by HK:
The Emperor has expressed enthusiastic thanks for the simple gift of an eight-fold branch of cherry-blossom. It had been brought from Nara, the ancient capitaly 30 miles away. The Emperor praises the perfumes of the cherry-blossoms filling his nine-fold Imperial Palace. Hokusai paints his palace servants idea of bringing next time the biggest damned complete cherry-tree one can find. Disregarding the fact that it is so huge that it seems to demolish the Palace-entrance.

Comment by HK:
Hokusai ridicules the superlativism of the high society. There was not much defense against the very popular artist. Hokusai also ridicules the manierism in minimalistic Zen-art. Those hypocrists showing off by praising the incredible inspiration from the beauty of the tail of a guinea-pig.

Remember: Hokusais 100 poems are told by an old nanny who is nobodys fool. That includes the Emperor.

Poem number 62
Lady Sei Shonagon born 967, author of the famous "Pillow book"

The original poem:
Though in middle night,
By the feigned crow of the cock,
Some may be deceived;--
Yet, at Ausaka's gate
This can never be achieved.

A situational poem by HK:
My lover, you tell me that it is time for you to leave me because you pretend to have heard the crow of a rooster. You got it completely wrong my dear. First: you cannot deceive me. I can well distinguish midnight and dawn. Second: You got the idea from the Ausaka tale, where prince Moshoku escaped from his palast prison with such an excellently faked crow that all cocks in the region joined in. Then, the guards hastily opened the doors of the palace and the prince escaped. But the trick is now too well known for another success. Third: The trick is for opening doors. In our case, my dearest lover, you want to use it to close a door. And that is not what I want.

Comment by HK:
Hokusai shows the Ausaka tale. Prince Moshokus friend Keimei had faked the rooster high up in a tree. Here he is just climbing down, while soldiers flow through the open gates. The anthology of poems is mostly about people full of desire. Here is the exception, the man who cannot wait to get away - however, maybe to rush pants in his hands straight into another bedroom.

Poem number 63
Sakyo no Tayu Michimasa (Fujiwara no Michimasa) 993-1054 chief magistrate

The original poem:
Is there now no way,
But through others' lips, to say
These so fateful words,--
That, henceforth, my love for you
I must banish from my thoughts?

A situational poem by HK:
Why had it to be you, princess Maskao, whom your father Emperor Sanjo made the chief priestess of the Ise Shrine, vowed to be celibate - and we cannot meet anymore? Why did I have to learn of our fate from the armed temple guard, this warrior with his deadly arrows?

Comment by HK:
Here comes the hero, full of expectations and the greatest erotic plans and fantasy - to be informed that the lady has just changed to a no-fun religious function. All males in the world sympathise with the guy.

The story in short: Accidents happen, sometimes very strange ones.

Poem number 64
Gon-Chunagon Sadayori (Fujiwara no Sadayori) 995-1045, imperial counselor

The original poem:
Lo! at early dawn,
When the mists o'er Uji's stream
Slowly lift and clear,
And the net-stakes on the shoals,
Near and far away, appear!

A situational poem by HK:
Early at dawn, the mists from the river are lifted like veils.The net-stakes on the shoals appear, near and far. People cross the bridge. Soon one will fetch the fish that have been trapped in them

Comment by HK:
This poem and the picture contrast with the hopeless situation encountered in poem 63. It says: Be patient. When you go fishing, sooner or later you can expect to be successful. The usual course of life on earth is that one finds his / her partner.

Poem number 65
Lady Sagami 998-1068. governor family

The original poem:
Even when my sleeves,
Through my hate and misery,
Never once are dry,--
For such love my name decays:--
How deplorable my lot!

A situational poem by HK:
My clothes must be hung up in the sun to dry for all the tears on my sleeves, tears of despair and hate for love which damaged my reputation. But events are not at rest, life brings new surprises.

Comment by HK:
Again a contrasting story to those of the poems 63 and 64.

The poet, a lady complains a) that her love story has ended and b) the secrecy was broken. She believes that she has lost her reputation. In her angry frustration, she sheds tears wetting loads of king-size towels. Hokusai shows how such towels are dried in public - there is no longer a point in hiding them. He does not care to show us the lady. He shows us a variety of six totally different persons. I assume that he wants to show to us - and to the lady in distress - that there are so many people in the world that it is just ridiculous to think that a little private grief has much importance. Buddha told that selfish wishes are the root of all misery in the world.

>> Poems (67 - 70)