For another impression of this print see Lane, Richard. Hokusai, Life and Work (London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1989), pl. 252. Dr. Lane makes these eloquent comments in the text:
'Mt. Fuji from Kajikazawa' is for me the most evocative print of the Fuji series, not only for its masterful design and mood, but for the intimate interaction between man and Nature that is revealed. Place a hand over either of these figures and you will perceive how integrated is the design, how essential is each element, including the rocky promontory, the turbulent waves, the mid-ground of mists, and the fisherman's net-lines which reflect the rightward slope of Mt. Fuji with the sunset sky loooming at top. In a typical Hokusai device, the triangular form of the Sacred Mountain is mirrored in the foreground figures, rock and lines: but we do not consciously realize this so much as feel its powerful influence on the total composition.
As with most of Hokusai's best designs, this represents a simple setting simply organized: against the nebulous background a determined fisherman stands on a sharp and perilous promontory, his taut net cast in the rain-swollen, writhing river--man and Nature actually connected by the frail fishing-lines--while his little son (tending the fish-basket) adds a touch of pathos to the scene. It is this sense of commiseration that renders the print unique in the series. One subconsciously senses here the harshness of the life depicted: few indeed must be the opportunities for this humble rustic to stand back and enjoy the abstract beauties of Nature. If he enjoyed them once it would have been in his wide-eyed youth, represented here by his own small, seated son.
Kajikazawa (Bullhead Marsh) lies near the head of the Fuji River, far in the mountains of Kai Province. Although it was on a minor highway from Kofu to Minobuyama, few of Hokusai's Edo contemporaries would have known the actual site of his sketch. The visitor to the spot today will assume the natural forces seen in Hokusai's print to be much exaggerated, for the Fuji River has been entirely subdued in modern times by dams and hydroelectric plants. In Hokusai's day, however, the river was often violent, and on its banks may yet be seen memorial stones to those who perished in its torrents.
Although the basically blue mood is retained, as in many Japanese prints there are variations in colouring from one impression to another of this design; some versions include a pink or saffron-coloured band in the sky and yellow or yellow-green on the rocks to the lower left (as though struck by a shaft of sunlight), and the fisherman's robe may be coloured red; but the earlier issues tend to limit the colouring entirely to shades of blue, as in our first plate. With such prints, the collector or curator will often have to face the problem of deciding whether to keep the version that appeals to him personally, or that which the experts...cite as 'early, rare and valuable'.