When you hear of Mount Fuji, what is the first color that comes to mind?
The actual mountain may appear blue or white, but if you envisioned a red-tinted mountain, you may have been influenced by Hokusai’s artwork.
The primary subject matter of South Wind, Clear Sky is in fact the Red Fuji you may have had in mind.
The majestic mountain that had its spotlight stolen by the great wave in the famous ukiyo-e, Under the Wave Off Kanagawa (神奈川県浪裏, Kanagawa Oki Nami Ura) is depicted in a magnificent size as if to assert its magnificence.
What does the title mean?
Gaifu (凱風, lit. triumphant wind) refers to the gentle breeze blowing from the south in the early summer season.
Kaisei (快晴, lit. pleasantly sunny) means that the sky is pleasant and clear; very fine weather.
Where is this located?
Almost all of the 46 titles in the Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji include names of the locations; however, two pieces--South Wind, Clear Sky and Rainstorm Beneath the Summit––do not indicate the whereabouts of the scenes, so it is difficult to determine its exact area.
One theory is that the painting may be representing Mount Fuji as seen from the vicinity of Lake Kawaguchi in Yamanashi Prefecture, but it remains uncertain as to where the view was observed from.
The key elements
- Red Fuji
- Cirrocumulus clouds
- Jukai, the sea of trees
1. Red Fuji
This artwork has been given the nickname of Aka Fuji (Red Fuji).
Aka Fuji refers to the phenomenon in which the surface of Mount Fuji is tinted red by the morning sun in the early hours in summer through autumn.
Hokusai has skillfully captured the gradual break of dawn on Mount Fuji, with its summit still in darkness, the snowcap melting away, and the reddish-brown surface of the mountainside becoming more scarlet as the sun rises.
2. Cirrocumulus clouds
A mackerel sky is synonymous with the meteorological conditions typically observed toward the end of summer as it begins its transition to fall. It is characterized by gentle winds that create rows and rows of scaly cloud formations. When you see these fluffy clouds drifting leisurely in the sky, you know that it is the perfect season to enjoy Red Fuji.
3. Jukai, the sea of trees
The intricacy of the sea of trees depicted at the foot of Mount Fuji is purely astounding.
The primary subject matter is none other than the Red Fuji, and what you see next are the cirrocumulus clouds. However, there is also another feature that can't be missed––the natural beauty of the sea of trees that is recognizable even at first glance. The presence of the lush and dense forest creates an outstanding juxtaposition with the majestic summit to complete this masterpiece.
Hokusai has artfully captured the brief passage of time at dawn. The impressive composition features what appears to be a gentle breeze blowing in the blue mackerel sky that heralds the arrival of autumn and Mount Fuji awash in a tint of crimson.
The magnificence of the composition is also evident in the way the mountain is portrayed with only a few lines and colors, yet still showing its imposing grandeur.
Hokusai's mastery in observing natural elements and rendering them into works through daring compositions and expressive colors is truly impressive.
South Wind, Clear Sky is ranked together with Under the Wave off Kanagawa and Rainstorm Beneath the Summit as one of the three finest works from the series, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. The work is an ukiyo-e masterpiece that continues to fascinate people to this day.
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