The Great Wave off Kanagawa

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I was browsing my Mastodon feed tonight when I came across this picture, posted by user Henri:

A Cookie Monster wave!

I liked it instantly, but as soon as I gave it a second look, the image looked very familiar to me, and I started to think why. The first thing I noticed was some Japanese kanji on its side. Having my older son studying Japanese, my first reaction was to show him the image, so I could be certain it was really Japanese.

His answer not only confirmed my suspicion, but also revealed why I found the image so familiar. That’s the same one — or nearly — which’s stamped on my Kindle cover:

I talked to Henri on Mastodon trying to figure out who created the original image, but he didn’t know. What I did find out talking to him, though, was that the image he posted was generated by someone who used AI to accomplish the feat.

As I wouldn’t be satisfied until finding out who authored the original, I started to look for answers, and fortunately it wasn’t a difficult search. The image happens to be featured in Wikipedia, and is named The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Created in 1831 by Japanese painter and printmaker Katsushika Hokusai, the image is the artist’s most famous piece, and also possibly the most reproduced image in the history of all art, having been featured in t-shirts, shoes, videogame controllers… and Kindle covers like mine. Now, learning that was certainly unexpected to me — but going down that rabbit hole from a Mastodon post was really cool.

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