After successful payment has been made you can download this product and begin using the images instantly! The Female Hero and other female characters are by far my favorite subject matter, and the way I have chosen when working with a project like this back piece tattoo, is to try to understand the character I am about to portray. 15 years have now passed since my first small steps on this path and I have learned more than I thought was ever possible. Getting to know a character like Kosanryo Ichijosai (her chinese original name is  Hu Sanniang) opens up the possibility to really share the tattoo experience with my client and to try to create something that is beyond the ordinary.
During my career as a tattooer I have always longed for a discussion more related to exploring the subject matter we use when we design for tattoos.
The story related to Kosanryo Ichijosai is to complex for me to divulge on this blog so I will instead point you in the direction where knowledge is through some great links on the internet. Lately I have been thoroughly contemplating in which direction I want my tattoo work to travel. Quite a few years have passed since I first started to experiment with the concept of mitate, a form of parody scenes common to Ukiyo-e. Over the last 3-4 years mitate has become an integral part of my tattooing and painting that I find highly pleasurable.
While turning over a bundle of silks, he secretly slips a piece of material into the bundle. The two rascals are about to leave with their booty when they are stopped by a samurai who happened to have been in the next room. As this beginning of the year gains momentum time has come for me to return to the way I used to define what I do and experience in my world. In my earlier writings I have discussed some of the more well-known animals and deities used for Irezumi.
Another creature of the vast pantheon of the traditional Japanese tattoo is the Snake, or Hebi as it is called in the Japanese language.
In Japan however, the Hebi is both associated with death and the underworld through the myths surrounding the indigenous naturalistic religion of Shinto, as well as being a creature symbolizing fertility. Hebi is also an avatar and messenger for the dragon king Ryujin and white snakes are connected to many other Shinto deities besides Ugajin. The fact that snakes shed their skin many times during a lifetime has given rise to the idea that snakes live to become up to a thousand years old and that great life giving medicine can be extracted from the creature if only treated properly.
The most famous of the stories concerning these transformations is perhaps the one called Dojoji.
This is a story that has been transformed into both Noh– and Kabuki plays, and is not a wholly unusual motif for Irezumi. I have practised Kendo until blood dripped from the blistered soles of my naked feet and I have spent countless hours on the Zafu (meditation pillow) trying to still my mind through the practise of Zen. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.
This of course means a lot of research but this in turns rewards me with the ability to go a bit deeper into the emotions of the person depicted than the usual shallow explanations given when talking about Irezumi designs.
Not only about tattooing and Japan, but also about myself, what reality is and how life works. Most of the time the conversation is bogged down in technicalities, like what color brand we use, is the shading smooth? Of all the Suikoden Ukiyo-e prints made during the Edo period, the one I use as reference for this project is by far my favourite. Every minute of the eleven and a half hours we have worked on this tattoo so far has been as absolute pleasure. This has led to a return to my original impulse of a more Ukiyo-e approach in design as well as execution.
In short it is a way of letting characters and events take on clever and alternative forms in order to either show something hidden, like a message, or simply to bypass censorship. After pursuing the desire to create erotica and pornography in painted form it became even more so.
Now, many years later, Benten and another gang member named Nango Rikimaru, are plotting to extort money from the owner of Hamamatsuya cloth shop. He then retrieves the planted piece of material and clumsily stuffs it into the front of his kimono.
Itto Tamashima is, in fact, an alias used by Nippon Daemon, the boss of Benten’s group.
Writing and sharing is what once made up the foundation of my tattooing and led me onwards to even greater things.
Vagina portrait reflected in a traditional Japanese mirror showing a woman with a Hebi (snake) Irezumi tattoo. We have seen how the Ryu, Koi, Shishi among others can be used to tell a traditional story or portrait human emotions in a stylized manner. As in many other cultures and mythologies the snake in the Japanese mind have dualistic undertones, being both good and evil.

The goddess Benzaiten, who is the only female member of the Shichi Fukujin (seven lucky gods) often appears with a white snake worn as her headdress. The great Shinto deity Okuninushi no Mikoto can transform into a great white snake and Shinto priests and practitioners will always try to avoid harming a snake if they come across such an animal in daily life. The shedding of skin also means that the Hebi can shape shift and assume any number of other identities.
It tells of a maiden called Kiyohime that falls into passionate teenage love with a beautiful young monk, Anchin, from Dojoji Temple. I personally think that many times the fact that Kiyohime is a young teenage girl is not understood properly and that some western artists make her out to be more hideous and evil than is beneficial to a successful adaption of the theme.
I am still in awe whenever I see a painting by Kawanabe Kyosai or print deisgned by Utagawa Kuniyoshi. After my first 10 years as a regular tattooer trying to be good at whatever walked in from the street design wise, focusing on a single style and culture provided me with the spiritual and emotional depth I so badly needed in order to continue tattooing.
I am very inspired by designs like this one, and I must also admit to the fact that I find female characters much more interesting than their male counterparts. Over the years of learning the tradition of Irezumi some of that got lost somehow and I found my self slipping more into the ordinary way of doing things. Benten is disguised as a young lady of high rank, while Rikimaru pretends to be a retainer who is escorting her. He is seen by one of the shop assistants and in the ensuing scuffle is wounded on the forehead by the manager. I have finally arrived at a place where the chatter has died down and a return to focus has once again arrived at my doorstep. You should always keep in mind that most of the time we are not making realistic images of these creatures for the sake of showing for example a Tora (tiger), but rather for the reason a certain image reflects our humanity in all its forms. Perhaps Christianity because of its strong association in between the snake and Satan stands out as being the most inflexible regarding this creature. This snake sometimes have a woman’s head and is an image of the Shinto Kami (spirit) of Ugajin who is closely associated with rivers. The very strong belief within Shinto that death itself brings great impurity to anything it touches may also have given rise to the belief that encountering a live snake is considered an extremely lucky omen while a dead one is regarded as the opposite. At first the monk resists her sexual invitations but later succumbs to his human urges and makes love to her.
The fearful ingredient lies in the fact that she is young and beautiful and at the same time full of a rage that has lit a terrible fire inside her heart.
After about 24 years of tattooing,  and 14 of those years dedicated solely to the tradition of Irezumi, I feel confident enough to put this fact out there.
I still enjoy drinking with Yakuza and Zen priests alike and late one night in a Gifu Zen temple I even met a ghost. The uniqueness of its viusal communications lacks obvious counterparts in many other forms of tattooing and the use of constanly re-occurring set-pieces gives it strength and continium.
It was the study of Ukiyo-e that first attracted me to the traditional Japanese tattoo as well as sending me down a path that has given me so much quality of life and so many realisations of how to go about living it. Sometimes even pornographic and erotic shunga prints could be political comments on events or people.
Having caught sight of a pattern of cherry blossoms tattooed on her arm convinces him the woman is really a man in disguise.
Therefore a Koi is not simply a fish, but rather a mirror of the wish we have for being heroic or in order to inspire fortitude. Snakes are in fact considered as a minor type of Ryu (dragon) and shares many of the mythological traits of that creature.
If an artist can achieve this balance act in between beauty and death it will be a legendary image.
I have learned to draw, paint and compose traditional Japanese designs and I am also capable of tattooing these in a sensible way on human skin. In short, I am a crazy manic person when it comes to this tradtiton and the culture from where it lends its energy and roots. The conversation never touches on emotions, balance or what we actually want to show when creating a piece. For the reader of this blog that has the patience to stay around I hope that some kind of pattern will emerge that will perhaps influence others.
They are shown rolls of silk and brocade suitable for wedding clothes, but Benten pretends not to be satisfied with them.
Showing a receipt for it from another shop, he proves to the manager that the piece of material does not come from Hamamatsuya. The thought of a woman that posed as a man that posed like a woman was highly entertaining and also had great promise when creating erotic images using this character.
You are all welcome to follow along my path of Irezumi if my humble writings should be of interest to you. It can also be for totemic reasons, using the image as a protector against bad things lurking in our daily lives.

Among them is the element of water, being a symbol of fertility, as well as a strong connection to thunder and lightning. Kiyohime becomes filled with the rage of a scorned lover, and as the young monk flees across a river for the safety of his precious temple, the young woman transforms into a large snake and follows him across.
Thankfully we have all been teenagers and probably felt that sting of unhappy love so it should be easy to go back and use those emotions in the design. I have read (not just looked at the pictures) hundreds of textbooks on everything from tea to Tatami. This is also where most people who try their hands on this genre of tattooing choose to remain. In my print Benten Kozo rests playfully on her veranda, enjoying some tea, a smoke and a Hokusai shunga. This may have something to do with the shape of a coiling snake resembling stylized lightning bolts, or the fact that some snakes have a lightning like pattern on their backs. In panic Anchin hides under the great bronze bell thinking himself safe but Kiyohime in her snake incarnation smells his fear and coils her strong body around the bell. If you use it for a full back the large bronze bell is a striking part of the imagery but if used for a Irezumi sleeve it is perhaps better to depict Kiyohime swimming across the river.
They perhaps learn a few easily repeated tidbits regarding the meaning of a handful of designs.
Maybe for someone else tattooing is about technique, craft or how to be as professional as possible. So heated is her teenage rage that the bell catches fire and burns both Anchin and herself to ashes. The water can be agitated, splashing wildly, in order to portrait the rage she is suffering under. I’ve have visited Japan on numerous occasions, learning from masters of various traditions many things that I apply in my daily work, and I have no intention of stopping at all. After so many years of striving to find keys and code it is not a diffucult task to separate the ones who knows from the ones who doesn’t.
Always remember to research properly and study as many texts and Japanese illustrations as possible.
There’s simply a realisation of never being able to know all, understand all or even coming close to finnishing. In all honesty I am not offended at all if tattooers and designers decide to not penetrate deeper.
What I usually do if I see an Irezumi piece I like is that I try to find the original Ukiyo-e prints the artist used for reference and then I continue from there. Of course, this doesn’t mean that I think that any particular way of doing things is the right one. If you only use actual tattoos as reference you will end up always producing third hand accounts and much of the originality is lost in that process.
What Irezumi has always strived to do is to re-create Ukiyo-e (Edo period woodblock prints and paintings) and Sumi-e (ink and brush painting) on the skin of humans.
This means effectivly that the shape and form of Irezumi is not something separate from the other Japanese arts of the Edo-period.
If you understand how Kyosai and Kuniyoshi worked and lived you will also understand what it is you have to do yourself in order to even begin exploring the path of Irezumi.
A common misconception is that in order to be a traditional Horishi (Japanese tattoo artist) you have to use Tebori (hand tattooing technique). Irezumi is a tradition, not a specific way of piercing the skin and inserting pigments in order to make shapes and forms.
When the contemporary and rapidly evolving world around us seems to be spinning faster than we can adjust or keep up, it’s comforting to try to return to older and more comprehensible ways of doing things. Think about like this; The reason why the old Irezumi masters used a Tebori tool is simply because that is what they had in their toolbox at the time.
The pigments undoubtedly had to be inserted into the skin somehow and since there was no elctricity to be found, needles on the end of a piece of wood worked fine.
When later in time elctricity was abundant and foreign visitors brought tattoo machines the landscape started to change. Of course there are artists that would argue for either technique, but this is more a matter of preference and individual touch than anything else. As a comparison I can offer you this; the woodblock print was the popular way of capturing and reproducing Japanese culture and history during the 250 years.
This all changed almost over night when photography was introduced in the later half of the 19th century.
What is being captured is pretty much the same as during the era of the woodblock print but the technique is different.

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