Hokusai drew a lion every day of his life. Like a ritual, to make the day peaceful.
Take a trip to Japan from around 1820. Imagine an artist, print artist, painter and etcher. For the sake of convenience, assume he is listening to the name Hokusai. And that the name means Studio of the North.
It is probably easier to put yourself in the position of a man who is about to marry the woman of his dreams. That is not tied to time and place.
Hokusai is a famous man, and buying a drawing from him for your future is a wonderful, valuable and expensive gift.
Three months before the wedding ceremony, the man visits Hokusai and orders a drawing of a lion. The drawing will be ready for the wedding. The price has been agreed.
A month before that date, the man asks Hokusai how the lion is doing. Hokusai responds somewhat surprised that he has not started yet.
A week before the wedding the man asks again about the progress and receives the same answer.
On the day of the wedding ceremony, the man nervously reports to Hokusai. He comes to pick up the lion. However, this is not yet ready. Whether he wants to come back in an hour. Disappointed and almost in a panic, the man reports again an hour later. He is kindly received and taken to the studio. There Hokusai takes a sheet of paper and paints a lion in one smooth motion. The lion.
The man is stunned, the lion is more beautiful than he could ever have imagined, but made so quickly that his eye could not follow it. “It’s beautiful, master, but so much money for such a small effort?”
Hokusai sighs and gestures for the man to follow him. They go through a corridor, a room, another corridor and finally end up in a room that is full of cupboards. The walls are completely hidden from view by cupboards that reach to the ceiling. Hokusai opens the doors of a few and tens, hundreds, thousands of drawn lions tumble out.
“You understand,” says Hokusai, “these lions determine the price of your lion. I have been living with these lions for 50 years, so that your lion could be born today. ”
The man bowed shyly, paid the bill and ran hopefully, with the Lion under his arm, to his future wife.
Painting: Marian de Neef