This is Hokusai's most famous work, and one of the best recognized works of Japanese art in the world. It depicts an enormous wave threatening boats off the coast of the prefecture of Kanagawa. While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami, the wave is, as the picture's title suggests, more likely to be a large rogue wave. As in all the prints in the series, it depicts the area around Mount Fuji under particular conditions, and the mountain itself appears in the background.
Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. He was influenced by Sesshu and other styles of Chinese painting. Born in Edo (now Tokyo), Hokusai is best known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (c. 1831) which includes this internationally iconic print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, created during the 1820s.