The best-known Japanese artist was very productive (over 30,000 art works) and deeply influenced by Western art, especially Dutch landscape and nature. Hokusai's works influenced Western artists such as Van Gogh and Whistler. Hokusai's best-known work, and Japan's most famous painting is "The Great Wave", which is actually Western art seen through the style of Japanese art. His work included: silk paintings, woodblock prints, picture books, manga, travel illustrations, paintings, and sketches.
Hokusai started out as a art student of woodblocks and paintings. During the 600-year Shogun period, Japan had sealed itself off from the rest of the world. Contact with Western culture was forbidden. Hokusai discovered and studied the European copper-plate engravings that were being smuggled into the country. Here he learned about shading, coloring, realism, and landscape perspective. He introduced all of these elements into woodblock and ukiyo-e art and thus revolutionized and invigorated Japanese art.