Katsushika Hokusai
Poem by Fujiwara no Toshiyuki Ason
1835, autumn

Signed: Zen Hokusai; artist’s seal: manji; Publisher’s seal: Eijudō (Nishimuraya Yohachi); censor’s seal: kiwame; ōban, yoko-e, 24.5 x 35.5 cm; nishiki-e with fukibokashi

From “One Poem by Hundred Poems as Explained by the Nurse through Pictures”. A Chinese junk off the coast somewhere beyond the Sumiyoshi Shrine near Ōsaka. Two crouching figures can be seen in an opening at the side of the ship. The twilight of the evening makes the scene seem somewhat surreal and dreamlike. In the shikishi next to the series title is the name of the poet Fujiwara no Toshiyuki (died 907) and his waka (Hyakunin-isshu No.18), which tells of an unfulfilled desire for love: In the night his thoughts go out to his beloved, but she remains hidden even in his dreams.

A. Lemp, Zurich (1959)
Riese Collection #133

Night is falling on the right, but the sun still shines brightly on the sailing ship and the hills in the distance. The poem reads:

Sumi no eno
When the waves beat on the shore

kishi ni yoru nami
of Sumiyoshi in the eventide

yoru sae ya
Would that I could take

yume no kayoiji
the path of dreams

hitome yokuran
concealed from people’s eyes.

Hokusai seems to have drawn a dream ship, sailing along obvious in the eventide. Two passengers peeping out from the hold, the “people’s eyes” of the poem, seem about to go to sleep as the ship draws night along with it on its journey.

Reproduced in: Ingelheim catalogue, no. 118.