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Linda Farmer, Certified Zentangle Teacher


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How to draw HOKUSAI

Zentangle pattern: Hokusai. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.Another very happy Monday to you as the month of August trucks us onward towards Fall …

Today’s fun tangle Hokusai is from Japanese CZT Sayomi Koike and it’s her first on the site. Hokusai is a surprisingly versatile tangle composed of simple repeated strokes.

The wave-like motif of Hokusai was undoubtedly inspired by the “internationally iconic” woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849),

“a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. Born in Edo, Hokusai is best known as author of the woodblock print series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji which includes the internationally iconic print, The Great Wave off Kanagawa.”

By After Katsushika Hokusai - Restored version of File: Great Wave off Kanagawa.jpg Public Domain,Sayomi is from Ichinomiya, Aichi, Japan. She writes,

I discovered Zentangle® two years ago when I was taking care of my father who was suffering from dementia. Sadly, my father passed away but I’m still tangling even after he left us. He loved drawing, so it’s like he has left me Zentangle. Whenever I draw on a tile, I remember him.

I came up with this tangle I call now “Hokusai” just after I discovered Zentangle. At that time, I didn’t know that there were so many tangles that people came up with.

Even only with the basic and simple version of Hokusai, your tile will be lively/dynamic but this Hokusai could be very useful when you want to emphasize other tangles as well.

Hokusai is very easy to draw. First, you draw big and small U-letters and between the letters you draw V-shapes that connect the U-letters. You’ll get a dynamic Hokusai then. Hokusai is a wonderful tangle whose variations can be unlimited!

(My friend translated this text from Japanese to English. Thank you! )

Zentangle pattern: Hokusai. Image © Linda Farmer and ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. You may use this image for your personal non-commercial reference only. The unauthorized pinning, reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal.Hokusai is an interesting and easy tangle that works well as a ribbon-style design and an unusual frame, in addition to the gem-like version Sayomi presents and on which I fashioned my main example.

Sayomi illustrates the step-by-step instructions for drawing Hokusai below and she features it with several variations in a dynamic duotangle with the Zentangle-original Onamato.

How to draw the Zentangle pattern Hokusai, tangle and deconstruction by Sayomi Koike. Image copyright the artist and used with permission, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Image copyright the artist and used with permission, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Please feel free to refer to the steps images to recreate this tangle in your personal Zentangles and ZIAs, or to link back to this page. However the artist and reserve all rights to these images and they must not be publicly pinned, altered, reproduced or republished. They are for your personal offline reference only. Thank you for respecting these rights. Click the image for an article explaining what copyright means in plain English. “Always let your conscience be your guide.” ~ Jiminy Cricket

As you enjoy any of the tangles on the site, please leave a comment of thanks and encouragement to show the artists you appreciate them for sharing their creativity to inspire yours. Your comment helps motivate them to continue to share!

Check out the tag sayomik for more of Sayomi’s tangles on

Related Links

  1. Looking for tangles by Artist or Type? For details visit the ABOUT > HOW TO FIND TANGLES BY ARTIST OR TYPE page on the top menu bar of any page on the site.
  2. What is a Zentangle? — if you are new to the Zentangle Method, start here for the fundamentals.
  3. Zentangle terminology — a glossary of terms used in this art form.
  4. How to use the site — an excellent free video tutorial showing how to use the site as well as pointing out lots of useful features you might have missed.
  5. Linda's List of Zentangle-Original Patterns — here is the complete list of original tangles (aka "official tangles") created and introduced by founders Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas, including those not published online. If you are new to the Zentangle Method I highly recommend learning a few of the published Zentangle classics first.
  6. "A Zentangle has no up or down and is not a picture of something, so you have no worries about whether you can draw a hand, or a duck. You always succeed in creating a Zentangle." Thus patterns that are drawings of a recognizable naturalistic or actual object, figure, or scene, are not tangles. A pattern is not always a tangle — here's what makes a tangle. TIP: tangles never start with pencil planning.
  7. How to submit your pattern deconstruction to TanglePatterns
  8. For lots of great FREE tutorials on TanglePatterns, click on the TUTORIALS link in the pink alphabetic menu bar below the tangle images at the top of any page.
  9. Strings! Have we got STRINGS! Click on the STRINGS link in the pink alphabetic menu bar below the tangle images at the top of any page for 250 different (free) Zentangle-starters. More than enough for any lifetime!
  10. Never miss a tangle! FREE eMAIL NEWSLETTER - visit the SUBSCRIBE page on the top menu bar of any page on the site and sign up to get notices delivered free to your inbox.


How to submit your pattern to TanglePatterns

From The Book of Zentangle:

Keep it Non-representational. Zentangle artwork is intended to be non-representational. Zentangle’s elemental strokes are also non-representational.

We don’t teach complex elements such as hearts, stars or flowers. Tangles are also non-representational.

Remember that tangles never start with pencil planning.

"A tangle has no pre-planning with pencil guidelines, grids or dots, no erased lines."

If you need a refresher on what makes a tangle, read the A PATTERN IS NOT ALWAYS A TANGLE page on the ZENTANGLES menu bar at the top of any page.

Everyone is invited to submit patterns, you do NOT need to be a CZT.

In order for patterns to be considered for they must be submitted to me by email. In other words you have to let me know about them. Here's how:

For details on how to submit your pattern for consideration visit the SUBMIT YOUR PATTERN page on the top menu bar of any page on the site. On that menu you will find these two pages:

    1. How to submit your pattern deconstruction to TanglePatterns, and
    2. Why hasn't my pattern been published?

The first page includes instructions on how to prepare and send your file. It also includes a link to this PDF submission form - NOTE: be sure to right click the link to download the file. I've recently updated the form with more information so if you have an old copy, you might like to download the current edition.

When your examples include additional tangles from the site, please list them in your email. (This saves me time and my memory some wear and tear.)

If your pattern is posted on your blog, attach your steps and tile images to your email and be sure your email includes the direct URL so I can link to it.

And remember, to quote Zentangle's co-founders Rick and Maria: tangles should be "magical, simple and easy to create", non-objective patterns of repetitive strokes that are easy to teach and offer a high degree of success to tanglers of all ages.

"Keep the tangles as little like 'drawing something' as possible."



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12 comments to How to draw HOKUSAI

  • Margaret

    This is fabulous!

  • Excellent stepout! Reminds me of part of Icanthis from ZTHQ. Drawing it as a continuous line rarely gives these sharp results! I look forward to drawing this one. Thank you, Sayomi!

  • I like this one a lot – really appeals to my jagged and graphic style. Thanks for sharing Sayomi and Linda!

  • Ilomay T.

    I’ve always loved that wave picture. My imagination is going wild in my head!

  • I like your tile and especially the pattern Hokusai that plays the leading role!!! Thanks for sharing

  • Bunny (Frances) Wright

    Our son was a technician for a children’s art show on Canadian TV that featured this beautiful art piece as the show started. The show was called ‘Pirates’. I love the fact the it was the inspiration for this tangle! Super!

  • Joyce Bruns

    This is beautiful, Sayomi, thank you for sharing it. I’m so sorry about the loss of your father.

  • Melena

    I love Japanese art, and this tangle definitely embodies it. My Mother has a few Japanese prints that were from her brother who lived in Japan for a few years. My Father also had dementia, so I understand what you were going through. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Debra Huff

    This is wonderful!

  • Raya B

    Looking forward to working with this.

  • Joan

    So good! “Mistakes” are not possible. Thank you for sharing.

  • Jill Barber

    Konnichiwa Sayomi. I’m sorry to hear about your father. I’m glad you are carrying on tangling in his memory. So much of your post brought back fond memories of my time in your lovely country in 1984. Your tangle is beautiful. Thank you. I took four 11 year old children to a C.I.S.V. International camp at Chukyo University in the Aichi Prefecture. The goal of the camp was world peace with children from 13 different countries. All of the leaders were given a print of this famous picture by Hokusai. I look forward to playing with this tangle some more. Happy tangling.

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