Segments in this Video

"Susano-o no Mikoto " (03:36)


"Making a Pact with the Spirits of Disease" was a three meter painting destroyed by the 1923 Kanto Earthquake. In 2015, a project began recreating Katsushika Hokusai's masterpiece. It combined digital technology with traditional restoration techniques.

Hokusai Restoration Project (03:11)

The artist donated "Susano-o no Mikoto" to the Ushijima Shrine near Tokyo. The Sumida Hokusai Museum commissioned Yu Kinoshita to recreate the painting. Digital scanning reveals the sole remaining photograph is high quality; colors are expressed as shades of gray.

Identifying Colors (01:56)

Kinoshita photographs an existing screen in color and compares it to a black and white photograph by the same artist who shot "Susano-o no Mikoto." He correlates colors to their gray values and asks restoration expert Akira Yamauchi to recreate Hokusai's colors.

Recreating Hokusai's Colors (03:04)

Yamauchi smooths gradation for ease of computer reading, but Kinoshita needs natural brushstrokes imitating Hokusai's style. Finally, they reach an agreement and Yamauchi sends samples.

Color Mystery (03:47)

Some gray values could represent more than one color for a man’s robe in Hokusai's "Susano-o no Mikoto." Yamauchi eliminates vermillion based on pigment particle size; a smooth gradation suggests purple.

Finding Hokusai's Purple (04:47)

Hokusai used Prussian blue pigment in "Under the Wave off Kanagawa." Yamauchi believes he mixed it with lac dye wafer. After several attempts, he achieves a deep purple; Kinoshita adds it to a digital image of "Susano-o no Mikoto."

Hokusai's Life Work (05:38)

The Sumida Hokusai Art Museum recovered a landscape scroll depicting the Sumida River in Hokusai's neighborhood. Learn about the artist's career as described by biographer Iijima Kyoshin.

"Making a Pact with the Spirits of Disease" (05:01)

Hokusai created images for the common people, including a large scale portrait of Buddhist saint Bodhidharma at the Gokoku-ji temple. Professor Noriko Suzuki discusses Edo period diseases inspiring "Susano-o no Mikoto.” The Ushijima Shrine was believed to protect against smallpox.

Lines in Japanese Art (02:38)

Yamauchi's team attempts to recreate the lines of "Susano-o no Mikoto” from a photo. Early camera lenses softened focus around the edges; they must guess how Hokusai painted the original version.

Finishing Line Technique (02:18)

Yamauchi and Kinoshita inspect "Buddha's Disciple," a rare painting on which Hokusai overlaid dark lines for emphasis. Yamauchi believes he used the same method on "Susano-o no Mikoto.”

Expressing Vitality (02:04)

Electromyography sensors measure invisible muscle movements in a man imitating the subject's pose in "Buddha's Disciple." Experts believe Hokusai used finishing lines to bring life to the figure by suggesting internal movement.

Hokusai's Mastery (02:30)

"Hokusai's Temporary Home" by Tsuyuki Iitsu depicts the artist in old age. He considered everything painted before age 70 to be worthless, and aspired to paint like a god.

"Susano-o no Mikoto" in the Ushijima Shrine (03:17)

Art historian Kazutaka Higuchi advises Kinoshita to consider Hokusai's intention for hanging the painting high. Kinoshita brightens colors to counteract indoor shadows and adds gold leaf to the background.

"Susano-o no Mikoto" Recreated (04:36)

After two years, Kinoshita delivers Hokusai's restored work to the Sumida Hokusai Museum in October 2016. He and Yamauchi reflect on restoring color from a black and white photograph. Hokusai died at 90, feeling he had not yet mastered art.

Credits: The Lost Hokusai (00:33)

Credits: The Lost Hokusai

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The Lost Hokusai

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai is extremely popular worldwide. At 86, he created a monumental, 3-meter-wide composition using bold brushstrokes to depict the ancient Japanese deity Susanoo slaying several gods of pestilence. The work was destroyed by fire during the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923 and the only clue to its original form was a single monochrome photograph. In 2016, experts relied on that photo as a guide as they launched a project to recreate this enormous work in its original dimensions. They used cutting edge technology, but faced many challenges, such as determining the work’s original colors. This program follows them as they complete the recreation and unveil the true intentions behind this “Lost Hokusai.”

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: BVL145585

ISBN: 978-1-64347-010-8

Copyright date: ©2016

Closed Captioned

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.