Japanese LEGO Artist Reimagines Hokusai's 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa'

The LEGO Master has opened new perspectives into a long-canonized masterpiece of Japan.
Brad Bergan

A LEGO Master named Jumpei Mitsui has debuted his latest brick-laden masterpiece. Reimagining a renowned painting from the Edo-period of Japan, Mitsui reimagined Hokusai's Ukioy-e print "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" in an incredible block format, according to a tweet from Mitsui.


Mitsui Great Wave 1
The three-dimensional nature of LEGO models opens the artwork up to multiple perspectives. Source: Jumpei Mitsui / Twitter

LEGO Master from Japan recreates Hokusai's 'The Great Wave'

With intricate detail, the giant wave — along with its trademark claw-like crest — is visible in blue and white as it threatens three wooden boats, with the enchanting presence of Mount Fuji in the background. Since it was constructed with LEGO bricks, the entire work is a three-dimensional model, which means we can achieve multiple perspectives on the model.

Mitsui Great Wave 2
The three wooden boats risk capsizing in the great wave. Source: Jumpei Mitsui / Twitter

Japan-based enthusiasts may view the work in-person at the HANKYU BRICK MUSEUM in Osaka, Japan.

Mitsui Great Wave Crest
The wave crest is reimagined with exquisite detail. Source: Jumpei Mitsui / Twitter

LEGO Kintsugi art

Of course, art-inspired LEGO has come in many shapes. In October, LEGO announced a novel collection of brick artwork called "LEGO TSUGI" via the company's global brand campaign "Rebuild the World."

The novel and breathtaking collection takes inspiration from Kintsugi — a traditional Japanese art of repairing broken or abandoned objects with gold lining, giving new meaning to the phrase "preloved" art.

"It reminded us about how there is beauty in broken things and tried to capture the sense of this using LEGO bricks," said LEGO Agency Head of Creative in Singapore Primus Nair."It's a small example of the amazing play possibilities of the brand." 

LEGO art in remembrance of boys past

If there are limits to what one can do with LEGO structures, it's difficult to say what they entail. The tallest LEGO structure in the world stands 19.6 ft (35.95 m) tall, and consists of more than 500,000 bricks.

Constructed to honor an 8-year-old cancer patient named Omer Sayag (who sadly lost the fight against the illness), the tallest-known LEGO structure in the world is named after the brave boy who has since passed.

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Conceptual LEGO cities, new aesthetic possibilities

Most notably, a team of 5,000 Japanese students from six different workshops built a mind-bending 3D model of a futuristic Japan. Called Project Build-Up Japan, the beautiful project enjoyed the sponsorship of LEGO, in celebration of its 50-year anniversary of opening its marketing presence to Japan.

A conceptual model of the possible future topography of Japan, the work of collective art was built almost entirely out of ivory-colored blocks — which presents an eery yet moving depiction of the island nation's future.

As LEGO structures begin to gain credibility as a legitimate form of artistic expression, we shouldn't be surprised when historic moments — social, cultural, political, or even conceptual recreations of great works from the past — pop up in our feeds. But when it comes to reimagining classic artwork, the addition of new perspectives may open new aesthetic criteria in the cultural analysis of long-canonized masterpieces.

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