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Sumida Hokusai Museum

Discover one of Japan’s greatest artists in the suburbs of Tokyo.

By Andrew Green

Tucked away in the middle of Sumida Ward’s more famous sights lies a museum dedicated to probably Japan’s most renowned artist: Katsushika Hokusai.

Hokusai was born in 1760 and worked until he died in 1849. Hokusai’s fame peaked with his series of woodblock prints, “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji,” which are said to have hugely influenced European masters such as Van Gogh and Monet and now can be seen everywhere, from the walls of Japanese public baths to smartphone cases.

Like many important historical figures in Japan, Hokusai’s birth and early years are obscure. Still, he undoubtedly spent much of his life in the Honjo District of Edo, now part of modern Sumida.

The museum opened in 2016 to introduce Hokusai and his work to visitors to the region. It is located in a small, pleasant park; its aluminum walls are designed to reflect and blend in with the surrounding environment.

A man of many names and many styles

Photo by: WikiCommons/ Sailko The Great Wave Off Kanagawa is a well-known piece from Hokusai.

The museum starts with works from his beginnings as an apprentice ukiyo-e (woodblock) painter of famous Kabuki actors of the day, moving on to the ‘religious period’ where he first took the name Hokusai, said to be inspired by the Buddhist realm located at the North Star (hokushin in Japanese).

Like most Japanese artists at the time, Hokusai went by various names throughout his career, which neatly bookmarked the different phases and the many styles he used. The Hokusai pseudonym corresponds to the period when his fame was at its height which is why he is known by that name today.

From Manga to Mount Fuji

Photo by: WikiCommons/ Sailko See some of the earliest concepts of manga.

The exhibition details his collaborations, friendships (and quarrels) with notable authors of the day before moving on to the most famous period of his career, including the world-famous “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji” series. We can also see his guides to drawing and illustration, the “Hokusai Manga,” written for his many students, and which became best sellers when published.

Interactive screens

Photo by: WikiCommons/ 漱石の猫

The museum provides an interactive experience where you can try to replicate the master’s prints and designs. The screens are dotted throughout the museum and are filled with information about the period or explanations of the art and the places and people that inspired them. This helps provide a much richer backdrop to the works and their production period. There is even a tableau of Hokusai at work in his studio.

It should be noted that the artworks are all replicas, and the permanent exhibition does not display any original works, which seems a pity. Nevertheless, this museum is an excellent place to visit if you are interested in Hokusai or Edo period Japan.

Things To Know

Hours and fees

Permanent exhibition: ¥400, adults/ ¥300, high school and university students, 65 and over.
Cash or PayPay only.
Hours: 9:30–17:30 (last admission, 17:00) Closed on Mondays

How To Get There


By train
  • 5-minute walk from Toei Ryogoku station
  • 9-minute walk from JR Ryogoku station
By bus
  • 5-minutes by Sumida-Loop bus from Kinshicho station
By foot
  • 15-minutes walk from Kinshicho station

Where To Stay

Dai-Ichi Hotel Ryogoku
  • 1-6-1 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, 130-0015 Japan
  • ¥14,250 - ¥14,250
  • 3.82/5 (5,463 reviews)
  • 0.3 km
The Gate Hotel Ryogoku by Hulic
  • 1-2-13 Yokoami, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, 130-0015 Japan
  • ¥17,608 - ¥55,660
  • 4.41/5 (241 reviews)
  • 0.7 km
Ryogoku View Hotel
  • 2-19-1 Ryogoku, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, 130-0026 Japan
  • ¥12,540 - ¥12,540
  • 3.87/5 (1,911 reviews)
  • 0.8 km
Hotel MyStays Asakusa
  • 1-21-11 Honjo, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, 130-0004 Japan
  • ¥7,000 - ¥32,200
  • 3.5/5 (956 reviews)
  • 0.8 km
Kaika Tokyo by The Share Hotels
  • 2-16-5 Honjo, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, 130-0004 Japan
  • ¥24,320 - ¥35,796
  • 4.54/5 (112 reviews)
  • 0.9 km

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