About the Works

Early Ferns, Chapter 48 of The Tale of Genji

Katsushika Hokusai

  • 「Early Ferns, Chapter 48 of The Tale of Genji」 Katsushika Hokusai

Facsimiles of works in the collection of the Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. : Gift of Charles Lang Freer, F1904.184.

These images are based on the high resolution facsimile produced by the Tsuzuri Project. Unauthorized copying, duplication, or transfer of these images is strictly prohibited.

Katsushika Hokusai
Historical era:
Edo (19th century)
printed on silk
hanging scroll
High Resolution Facsimile of Japanese Art Abroad
H100.8 × W40.5 cm
Sumida Ward
The Sumida Hokusai MuseumMAP
Current owner:
The Freer Gallery of Art of the Smithsonian Institution
ink, color on silk

From the signature “Hokusai Taito” applied to it, we know that Hokusai was in his fifties when he produced this work, which Charles Lang Freer purchased in 1904. Its title Early Ferns is the same as that of chapter 48 of the 54-chapter The Tale of Genji, which is the fourth chapter of the section called “Uji Jujo (Ten Chapters of Uji).” This Hokusai work depicts how some ferns and horsetails have been delivered to Naka no Kimi, whose father Hachi no Miya and elder sister Oikimi have died, from Ajari of Mt. Uji, who was the Buddhist master of her father. Shedding tears because of Ajari's kindness, Naka no Kimi sends him a reply poem, saying “To whom shall I show these early ferns that a friend has collected from a mountain as something to remember the deceased people by?”

About the Works