This will be a review of the upcoming LEGO Art set, 31280 Great Wave off Kanagawa, which will be released in LEGO stores in Jan 2023 in most regions except Asia Pacific(Feb 2023) and India (April 2023)

Box Experience

The box is typical of sets targetted at the Adult segment with a black and white colour scheme. A product view of the set is placed front and centre at the front of the box, with the set name set in big bold fonts at the left margin and additional details on the lower right of the box.

The back of the box shows off two lifestyle photos of the set and the overall dimensions of the set.


The contents of the box include packs 1,2,3,4,5,7,10,11,13(2x), 14(3x) and a unnumbered pack. Inside the big white box are packs 6,8,9,12(5x), 14(3x), 15(2x), 6 loose 16x16x1 bricks and an instruction manual.

The front of the instruction book showcases the artwork that inspired the set with some further details on the artist himself and some of his other works from the 36 views of Mount Fuji commission originally meant to be mass produced woodblock prints for pilgrims to Mount Fuji.

Build Experience

The build of the main artwork comprises of 6 submodules of 16x16x1 bricks and you start off with the first layer with the signature of the artist (From the brush of Hokusai, changing his name to Iitsu) and the title of the artwork (Thirty-six views of Mount Fuji / On the high seas in Kanagawa / Under the wave) printed on LEGO tiles

Therafter, the build is build up module by module and layer by layer till its completion with a mixture of 1×1 round tiles and other LEGO elements making up the build. The layers give it a multi dimensional facet. The base of the 16x16x1 brick helps to retain the overall colour flow of the build as it peeks through the 1×1 round tiles used.

Details including Mt. Fuji in the background, the arching big claw wave and the smaller Mt.Fuji like wave, the big cumulonimbus cloud, the three barges full of fisherman/traders caught in the unfortunate predicament, bracing themselves for the hit, are captured in full.

Bags 12-15 concentrate on building the optional frame to place the artwork. A feature introduced by most museums around the world seeking to display this artwork to the public but not originally used by Hokusai since it was originally supposed to be a mass produced piece of woodblock print (ukiyo-e).

The build ends with the clicking of the artwork onto the 12 Technic brick holders. What a brilliant way to cap off the build.

The hanger elements are placed on the artwork itself so we are thinking that there might be some that may choose to forgo the frame and hang it up on the wall sans frame, if they so wish.

Additional thoughts

The designers chose white birds and white leaves to represent the claw-like features of the ferocious big wave. We can’t help but to think that this might be a reference/allegory to the later work of Hokusai “The Big Wave” where the crest of another big wave seems to flow naturally into a flock/group of flying seabirds.


I personally have been fascinated by this great piece of artwork by Hokusai for many years now. A so called artwork which has lent itself to countless interpretations in all forms and cultures so we might be a bit biased here but the set definitely deserves a 4.5-5.0 out of 5 rating. We only mildly question the final choice of printed expression used to depict the people on the boats as I’ve always intepreted them as having their heads tucked in and hands over their ears bracing for the impending wave instead of the sort of grimace-like expression chosen.

We were also able to access the accompanying English soundtrack (accessible via QR code) and it gives a fascinating insight to the piece itself and the era it was done in and its various interpretations by people all over the world.

Here are the recommended retails prices around the world for this set. €99.99 / $99.99 / £89.99/ 169.99 AUD/ 139.99 CAD

The set used for the review was sent to us by The LEGO Group for the purpose of an honest review. Provision of sets do not in any way influence or guarantee a positive review.


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