Hokusai's prints can be enjoyed in many ways. Simply as samples of the woodcut artist's craft, these are spectacular samples. More than once, the editor presents enlargements of some part of a print. They show the lovingly detailed flow of a horse's tail (p.95), or complex texture of reeds in a rice field (p.54-55). These minutiae take on extra meaning when you remember that each is incised into a plank, with the space carved out from between the visible lines. This book's beautiful printing helps the viewer appreciate not just the technical feat of aligning so many colored blocks in making one print, or in creating the delicate gradients of sky and water. It also helps the reader to appreciate Hokusai's layered composition and to walk along the path that leads into the depths of each image.
This also makes several statements about Japanese culture, from the humble pit-saw workers (p.57) and rice millers to elegant geishas or daimyo and his retinue. Behind all the bustle of life or terror of the seas (as in the famous "Great Wave"), there stands Mt. Fuji. Silent and eternal, it's almost hidden in many of the pictures. I've never seen Fuji in person, but it reminds me of Mt. Rainier as seen from the Seattle area - it seems to pop from nowhere as I turn a corner, looming and massive despite its distance. And, like the many views of Fuji shown here, Ranier looks different with every angle and every shift of light or weather. Hokusai conveys all that variability, permanence, and immanence, but also conveys a reverence for Fuji that a Western mind can't wholly encompass.
Brief descriptions help identify each scene and comment on its composition without dominating the imagery. I recommend this highly, as a segment of Hojusai's ouvre, as a world class sample of print-making, or just as a book of pictures.