JP 0

When Japanese travelers go abroad, they’ll be taking some of the country’s most famous and beautiful examples of woodblock print artwork with them.

A while back I had to renew my passport, and when my new one came in the mail my wife was amazed at how incredibly American it is. Splashed across every visa page is an iconic American scene, such as the Statue of Liberty standing tall, a pair of grazing buffalo, or a group of cowboys leading their herd on a cattle drive.

But Japan’s passports have their own makeover in the works that will provide just as much national color and character. As just announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the not-too-distant future Japanese passports will be graced by the artwork of Katsushika Hokusai, Japan’s most celebrated painter and woodblock artist.

As the conclusion of a project to find a new design that would be both representative of Japanese culture and difficult to counterfeit, the ministry-appointed committee has decided to use a selection of works from Hokusai’s famous Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji ukiyo-e series.

Edo Nihonbashi and Fine Wind, Clear Morning, as they will appear in the new passports (top) and in their Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji forms (bottom)

JP 1

However, Japanese passports aren’t 36 pages long, which means there’s not room to include every single piece from Hokusai’s series. In the end, the committee decided on 24 prints to be used, which includes such internationally recognized masterpieces as The Great Wave off Kanagawa and Koshu Kajikazawa

JP 2

▼ The complete set of Hokusai works that will appear in the new passports (no word on whether or not the 12 prints that didn’t make the cut will be used for people requesting additional pages).

JP 3

JP 4

The new passports are scheduled to be introduced in 2019. Oddly enough, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says this timing was partially chosen so that they’ll be ready in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, during which one would expect a smaller-than-normal number of Japanese citizens to be travelling abroad. Still, if that self-imposed deadline means we get to see these traveling works of art sooner, so much the better.

Follow Casey on Twitter, where as a proud resident of Kanagawa he’ll take any opportunity to brag about the Great Wave ukiyo-e print.

Source: Japaaan
Top image: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wikipedia/Muttley (edited by RocketNews24)
Insert images: Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1, 2) (edited by RocketNews24)