The New ¥1,000 Note Featuring Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa"

The New ¥1,000 Note Featuring Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa"


Hokusai's Ukiyo-e, 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa', Featured on New Currency Note for the First Time

On July 3, 2024, new banknotes (Japanese Banknotes) will be issued for the first time in 20 years since 2004. This new series of notes features numerous anti-counterfeiting technologies and universal designs, which will be detailed below.
Ukiyo-e enthusiasts will likely focus on the reverse side of the new ¥1,000 note, which features the ukiyo-e master Katsushika Hokusai's 'The Great Wave off Kanagawa.' This marks the first time in history that ukiyo-e artwork has been used on currency. Additionally, the obverse of the new ¥1,000 note features a portrait of Shibasaburo Kitasato, a Nobel Prize-winning bacteriologist.
The New ¥1,000 Note Featuring Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa"

Source: Photo taken by our company of a poster from the Bank of Japan


Prototype of "The Great Wave off Kanagawa"

Hokusai persistently challenged himself throughout his life with the depiction of waves. He drew waves multiple times in his life, constantly experimenting to capture the elusive movement of water. His masterpiece "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" was created in his early 70s, but its prototype is believed to be "Oshiokuri Hato Tsusen no Zu," drawn around when Hokusai was 45 years old. Don’t they look quite similar?
The New ¥1,000 Note Featuring Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa"

Venues for Viewing and Creating Ukiyo-e

It’s enjoyable to observe the evolution of Hokusai’s artwork while appreciating ukiyo-e. In Tokyo, places such as the "Sumida Hokusai Museum" (nearest station: Ryogoku Station on the Toei Oedo Line) and "Ota Memorial Museum of Art" (nearest station: JR Harajuku Station) allow you to view ukiyo-e. Additionally, the Traditional Performing Arts Information Centre at the National Theatre (nearest station: Hanzomon Station on the Tokyo Metro Hanzomon Line) and the Tokyo National Museum (nearest stations: JR Ueno or JR Uguisudani Station) also offer opportunities to see ukiyo-e.

Furthermore, at Takahashi Studio (nearest station: Edogawabashi Station on the Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line), you can experience creating ukiyo-e prints like "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" under the guidance of artisans. You can also purchase ukiyo-e prints made by the artisans. I highly recommend trying the ukiyo-e-making experience.

The New ¥1,000 Note Featuring Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa"

Anti-counterfeiting Technologies and Universal Design Employed in the New Notes


Anti-counterfeiting Technologies

  • Intaglio Printing: A printing technique that raises the ink significantly, creating a textured feel.

  • Detailed Watermarking: In addition to the traditional portrait watermarks, detailed watermarks are now included in the background.

  • Watermark Bar Patterns: Vertical bar watermarks, with the number of bars varying by denomination.

  • Holograms: The portrait appears three-dimensional and rotates, and other designs change depending on the viewing angle. This 3D hologram technology, where designs appear to change direction based on the angle of view, is a pioneering implementation in currency by Japan.

  • Latent Images: Tilting the note reveals the face value numbers on the front and the word "NIPPON" on the back.

  • Pearlescent Ink: Tilting the note reveals a pink sheen on both edges.

  • Microtext: Using a magnifying glass, you can see the text "NIPPON GINKO" in microprint, which is too small to be reproduced by copiers.

  • Special Luminescent Ink: Under ultraviolet light, the governor of the Bank of Japan's seal and parts of the pattern glow.


Universal Design

  • Identification Marks: Raised marks that can be felt with fingers to identify the denomination. The current banknotes have been modified to a more distinct shape (11 diagonal lines) and varied placement by denomination to facilitate easier identification.

  • Enlarged Numerals: The numerals on both sides (Arabic numerals) are enlarged compared to current banknotes to make denomination identification easier.

  • Hologram and Watermark Shapes and Arrangement: The shape and arrangement of holograms and watermarks vary by denomination to aid in easier identification.


Book Experience

Ukiyo-e Woodblock Printing
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