The Life of HOKUSAI

“The Life of HOKUSAI” is producing a completely new art experience entertainment which has merged live performance and art exhibition with the theme of “Katsushika Hokusai”

Edinburgh Festival Fringe "The Life of HOKUSAI"

The World-renowned painter “Katsushika Hokusai”

Katsushika Hokusai, is a world famous genius painter from Japan. His masterpiece Kanagawa Okinamiura is called “The Great Wave” overseas and is said to be as famous as Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. He was selected as one of the “100 most important people of the last 1000 years” by “LIFE” magazine in the U.S., along with Edison and Einstein, and was the only Japanese person to be selected.

In recent years, a book about his life has been published, and a dramatization and film version of his life have also been announced, attracting attention from around the world. We have planned a completely new theatrical artwork based on Hokusai, a master painter, combining live performance and the latest digital projection live performance.
We have taken measures against the COVID-19 infection, and we have reconstructed this performing arts work in a special version, and we will transmit it to the world as a video work. We will present the life of Hokusai and the impressions of his work that were previously unknown to the public.


Katsushika Hokusai is one of Japan’s most famous painters. His masterpiece “Kanagawa Okinamiura” (The Great Wave) has comparable fame as da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. He is also the only Japanese selected as one of the 100 most influential people of the century, along with Edison and Einstein by Life magazine. “The Life of HOKUSAI” is a non-verbal stage work that depicts the inner life of Hokusai, who had accomplished an incredible feat. In 2020, we planned to bring “The Life of HOKUSAI” to the world as a live performance to coincide with the 260th anniversary of Katsushika Hokusai’s birth. However, due to the spread of the new coronavirus, we had to make a painful decision to cancel the live performance. But now, we are bringing this to the world as the video work.

The storytellers of this non-verbal stage work are; Internationally acknowledged performance artist Katsumi Sakakura, Dancer Kato Karasu, Satsuma Biwa player Kamata Kunsui, Taiko drummer Kobayashi Taro and Actress Manase Haruka. Tsugaru Shamisen player Yoshida Brothers is making a special appearance.
The combination of the live performance with the state-of-the-art projection live technique resulted in the novel performing arts style that the world had never seen before. This artwork to commemorate the 260th anniversary of Hokusai’s birth was made so relevant by inviting Kentaro Shimizu, the multiple international film festival winner as the director of the stage and documentary film, and Noshi Okazaki, who has a passionate global fan base as a character designer.

Hokusai’s message to us 200 years ago is so meaningful and necessary in today’s world. “The Life of HOKUSAI” sends out a new Japonism to the world!


Hokusai, a Japanese artist, had painted many masterpieces with an indomitable spirit after having suffered from a stroke, been unable to hold his brush, and had lost everything in a massive fire. He believed that he was the bridge between energies of heaven and earth and that he was the incarnation of a dragon! He had had nothing to fear until the sudden death of his wife…. He was so absorbed in painting and had not expressed his appreciations to his wife, Koto, who had supported him so devotedly. The year after Hokusai had recovered from his stroke, Koto died suddenly. He had regretted her death so profoundly and asked himself,

“What significance does it have to win the recognition as an established painter?” “Have I sent my loved one away peacefully?

Hokusai had such inner dialogues as he drew the dragon in his last piece, “Dragon over Fuji” What did Hokusai find there?


Hokusai painted many pictures with the motif of dragons. However, none of his dragons holds a Cintamani stone: a wish-fulfilling jewel (Note: 1). Even the dragon in his last piece, we do not see the stone. This performance, which unlocks this mystery based on historical facts, is depicting Hokusai’s true character and delivers a message to people all over the world about what matters in our lives, which we tend to lose sight of in this chaotic world.

(Note: 1) A pearl of treasure that is said to make any wish come true if held. Dragons are usually drawn with a jewel (a globe like a crystal ball) in their hands in artworks.

About Katsushika Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai is not only one of Japan’s leading ukiyoe artists, but also one of the most famous Japanese in the world. Katsushika Hokusai is famous for his “36 Views of Mount Fuji” series of landscape paintings featuring Mount Fuji. After the death of Hokusai, his fame spread to Europe, where his innovative works surprised impressionist painters such as Van Gogh, Monet, and Degas, and influenced the “Japonism” that swept the West in the 19th century. The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright is also known to have been influenced by Hokusai. Hokusai is an internationally acclaimed painter rather than a Japanese painter.

Stage Production Staff

Executive Producer Sugimoto Shin

Stage Producer Ban Norifumi

Composition Katsumi Sakakura

Directed by Katsumi Sakakura

Choreography Katsumi Sakakura

Katsumi Sakakura

The Life of HOKUSAI

Performing arts program commemorates the 260th birth anniversary of HOKUSAI

Katsumi Sakakura

Born in 1963 in Nagoya city, Japan. An artist who expresses the peculiar "movement, rhythm and spirituality" of Japanese traditional culture as an integrated art form. As the world's first artist to synchronize video and performance, he invented "Projection Live", which is highly acclaimed even abroad as an originator. He has been invited from 41 countries to perform in 21 TV programs.

He has performed at global events such as the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan and the IOC International Olympic Committee General Assembly in Kuala Lumpur. He has given lectures titled "What is real Japanese COOL?" in Japan and abroad (The University of Tokyo, Moscow University, SOAS University London, Aoyama Gakuin University, Nagoya Gakuin University, etc.), and has spoken at TEDxTokyo to share the beauty of Japan with the world.

Stage appearance
Katsumi Sakakura (Performer)
Kato Karin (Dancer)
Kamada Kunsui (Satsuma biwa player)
Kobayashi Taro (Taiko player)
Manase Haruka (Actress)

Special appearance
Yoshida brothers (Tsugaru shamisen player)

Character Design Okazaki Takashi

Music Fukuhiro Shuichiro

Art and Costume KIRIE

Assistant Choreography Kato Karin

CG Production Animation Cafe

Stage Director Shimojuu Takuya

Sound Yoshimura Takahiro

Lighting Nakamura Yoshio

Production Otani Hiroki

Title Cooperation Miho (calligrapher)

Music Collaboration Waccha

Still photography
Kanesaka Ryosuke
Hirabayashi Katsumi

Material Collaboration
Sakai Eiji (Hanzou, Inc.)
Woman's body calligrapher
Satoru Kobayashi Sanzaemon

Supervisor Uragami Mitsuru (Uragami Sokyu-do Co.,Ltd)

Technical Assistance Panasonic Corporation

Sponsorship Zion Co., Ltd.

Planning and Production Global Business Labo, Inc.

Video Production Staff

Executive Producer Sugimoto Shin

Producer Jeong Yeongsu

Director Shimizu Kento

Assistant Director Atanas Ibba Mantchorov

Cameraman Tsuji Takeshi

Sound Tuning and Effects Murata Momoko

Stage Video Recording Rim Entertainment, Inc.

Stage Video Distribution Global Business Labo, Inc.

Advertising/Public Relations Rim Entertainment, Inc.

Film Production Rim Entertainment, Inc.

Planning and Production Global Business Labo, Inc.