Hokusai’s Iconic Print, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” Recreated with 50,000 LEGO Bricks

For those with the time, skill, and dri­ve, LEGO is the per­fect medi­um for wild­ly impres­sive recre­ations of icon­ic struc­tures, like the Taj MahalEif­fel Tow­er, the Titan­ic and now the Roman Colos­se­um.

But water? A wave?

And not just any wave, but Kat­sushi­ka Hoku­sai’s cel­e­brat­ed 19th-cen­tu­ry wood­block print, The Great Wave off Kana­gawa.

As Open Culture’s Col­in Mar­shall point­ed out ear­li­er, you might not know the title, but the image is instant­ly rec­og­niz­able.

Artist Jumpei Mit­sui, the world’s youngest LEGO Cer­ti­fied Pro­fes­sion­al, was unde­terred by the thought of tack­ling such a dynam­ic and well known sub­ject.

While oth­er LEGO enthu­si­asts have cre­at­ed excel­lent fac­sim­i­les of famous art­works, doing jus­tice to the curves and implied motion of The Great Wave seems a near­ly impos­si­ble feat.

Hav­ing spent his child­hood in a house by the sea, waves are a famil­iar pres­ence to Mit­sui. To get a bet­ter sense of how they work, he read sev­er­al sci­en­tif­ic papers and spent four hours study­ing wave videos on YouTube.

He made only one prepara­to­ry sketch before begin­ning the build, an effort that required 50,000 some LEGO pieces.

His biggest hur­dle was choos­ing which col­or bricks to use in the area indi­cat­ed by the red arrow in the pho­to below. Hoku­sai had tak­en advan­tage of the new­ly afford­able Berlin blue pig­ment in the orig­i­nal.

Mit­sui tweet­ed:

I tried a total of 7 col­ors includ­ing trans­par­ent parts, but in the end, I adopt­ed the same blue col­or as the waves. If you use oth­er col­ors, the lines will be overem­pha­sized and unnat­ur­al, but if you use blue, the shade will be cre­at­ed just by adjust­ing the light, and the nat­ur­al lines will appear nice­ly. It can be said that it was pos­si­ble because it was made three-dimen­sion­al.

Jumpei Mitsui’s wave is now on per­ma­nent view at Osaka’s Han­kyu Brick Muse­um.

via Spoon and Tam­a­go and Colos­sal

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Frank Lloyd Wright Lego Set

With 9,036 Pieces, the Roman Colos­se­um Is the Largest Lego Set Ever

Why Did LEGO Become a Media Empire? Pret­ty Much Pop: A Cul­ture Pod­cast #37

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine. She most recent­ly appeared as a French Cana­di­an bear who trav­els to New York City in search of food and mean­ing in Greg Kotis’ short film, L’Ourse.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.