A stop we always recommend to clients visiting the Snow Monkeys is the nearby town of Obuse, where the illustrious ukiyo-e woodblock print artist, Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), spent the latter years of his life. A fine little museum exhibits some of his most famous work, including some of his Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji which so impressed Van Gogh and other French Impressionist painters in the 19th century. The nearby temple of Gansho-in houses one of his most impressive murals, and a little further away Zenko-ji temple is a wealth of intricate Buddhist kannon statues and decorative carvings.
Hokusai’s main patron was the wealthy merchant and dilettante, Takai Kozan, whose Edo-period mansion houses an exhibition of Hokusai prints and Kozan’s own calligraphy. Obuse town itself retains plenty of traditional Japanese character, with numerous old shops and sake breweries to explore if time permits.