Watch Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa Get Entirely Recreated with 50,000 LEGO Bricks

A few years ago here on Open Cul­ture, we fea­tured a re-cre­ation of The Great Wave off Kanaza­wa made entire­ly out of LEGO by a seri­ous enthu­si­ast named Jumpei Mit­sui. Though the work’s depth does come across to some extent in still pho­tos, it bears repeat­ing that Mit­sui assem­bled not just a two-dimen­sion­al image, but a com­plete three-dimen­sion­al scene that, when viewed straight on, looks just like Hoku­sai’s famous wood­block print. All told, the project required 50,000 LEGO bricks, all of which you can now watch Mit­sui lay down in the ten-minute time-lapse video above.

By pre­sent­ing the whole con­struc­tion process from a vari­ety of angles, the video allows us to bet­ter appre­ci­ate not just the painstak­ing man­u­al labor involved, but the amount of cre­ative and tech­ni­cal work nec­es­sary to con­cep­tu­al­ize the Great Wave — per­haps the fore­most exam­ple of the vivid­ly flat ukiyo‑e wood­block print style — in phys­i­cal real­i­ty.

View­ers who’ve nev­er tried their hand at large-scale LEGO build­ing will also be sur­prised by the way in which Mit­sui goes about build­ing the grid-like sub-struc­ture that under­girds what looks, in the fin­ished prod­uct, like a sold sea of bricks.

It’s nat­ur­al that Mit­sui (now a “LEGO Cer­ti­fied Pro­fes­sion­al”) has shared the details of how he built his best-known LEGO cre­ation on Youtube, giv­en that it was on the same plat­form that he gained some of the knowl­edge nec­es­sary to exe­cute it in the first place. “The brick artist observed waves on Youtube for hours, and read aca­d­e­m­ic papers on waves to bet­ter under­stand their forms and ener­gy,” notes The Kid Should See This, under­scor­ing the inten­si­ty of prepa­ra­tion required even for what may, at first, look like a nov­el­ty project. And if the still-young Mit­sui is any­thing like his nine­teenth-cen­tu­ry coun­try­man, he’ll be tempt­ed to build the Great Wave again, and even bet­ter, a few more times in the decades to come.

via The Kid Should See This

Relat­ed con­tent:

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

Ai Wei­wei Recre­ates Monet’s Water Lilies Trip­tych Using 650,000 Lego Bricks

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

The Evo­lu­tion of The Great Wave off Kana­gawa: See Four Ver­sions That Hoku­sai Paint­ed Over Near­ly 40 Years

Based in Seoul, Col­in Marshall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the Sub­stack newslet­ter Books on Cities, the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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