According to the Wikipedia article for "The Great Wave off Kanagawa", copies are stored in various places around the world.

There are various copies of this work throughout the world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,[30] the British Museum in London,1 the collection of Claude Monet in Giverny, France,[31] the Sackler Gallery,[32] the Guimet Museum[26] and the National Library of France[33] are some of the places where this work is on exposition. A collection of woodblock Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji prints, contained in the wellness spa of the Costa Concordia was lost during the collision of the ship on January 13, 2012.[34]

Some private collections also have a copy, as is the case of the Gale collection in the USA.

This article (accessed May 14 2014) does not list one place I would expect - Japan! Is it possible to view this woodcut in Japan, or are all of the copies overseas?

great wave

edit: See answers below but there is an idea that there is no "original" because it's a woodcut, the same way there is no "original" of a photograph because you can print many copies from a negative.


Tokyo National Museum has it.

Also, Japan Ukiyo-e Museum has it, I do not understand Japanese but I can tell they have it, the website has some English pages, one of them is the opening hours.

  • Why can you "tell they have it"? I auto-translated the page microsofttranslator.com/… and I see "Knagawa" there, but as the name of an artist, not part of the title of this picture. – Kate Gregory May 14 '14 at 18:25
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    @KateGregory because I saw the same photo in the collection page of the museum, so I assumed they must have it! – Nean Der Thal May 14 '14 at 20:56
  • Makes sense! I didn't see it when I clicked the link, I bet they show different images on every visit – Kate Gregory May 14 '14 at 21:03
  • @KateGregory I saw it in this page: japan-ukiyoe-museum.com/exhibition/nendo/n2013 – Nean Der Thal May 15 '14 at 6:11
  • For the record, I went there last week (May 2014) and it was not on display, though two other works by Hokusai were. – Kevin Burke Jun 5 '14 at 20:13

The Great Wave is a woodcut. The wood block was created by Hokusai around 1830. During his life this was one of his most popular prints as part of his "36 Views" of Japan edition. It was popular to tourists of the day to buy and bring home prints on mulberry or rice paper, so many hundreds of original impressions were made from the wood block. After Hokusai's death his dealer continued to print from this original block. It it believed that between 5,000 and 10,000 impressions were made from this original plate. But, because they were cheap tourist souvenirs, the vast majority of the impressions were likely destroyed long ago, but somewhere between 100 and perhaps as many as 500 original impressions likely still exist. So, while some might pay $150,000 for an original impression, many in collections remain and can be acquired for far less if one is lucky.

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    The OP asked where to see it in Japan and although your answer is very interesting it does not really answer the question. – mdewey Sep 3 '18 at 8:08
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    +1 - The question asked for "the original" and the right answer is that "the original" never existed, because woodcuts don't have an original - except for the block. – Pere Sep 19 '19 at 18:11

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