Hokusai was born in the autumn of 1760 in Katsushika near Edo, the old city of Tokyo. Later, he called himself "the farmer of Katsushika", adapting Katsushika as his family name. He learned woodblock carving at an early age, and continued to study painting and drawing. He became a pupil al the Katsukawa Shunsho woodblock art school, which he left in 1792. Adapting many artists names during his career (such as Shunro, Sori, iitsu, Gakyojin and Manji) he finally specialized in landscape painting in a style much influenced by Western Art.
Between 1812 and 1878, he published 15 volumes of 'Hokusai Manga' ('Sketches by Hokusai'), which inspired generations of artists to come, not in the least Japanese comic artists. But also the work of European artists like Hergé and André Franquin show Hokusai influences. It is no coincidence that comics in Japanese are called Manga. Hokusai continued producing landscapes and fine prints until his death in April 1849, at the age of 88. His last words were: "If heaven gives me ten more years, or an extension of even five years, I shall surely become a true artist."