“Watanabe no Tsuna”
府中 彫剛 “渡辺綱”



Watanabe no Tsuna was a warload in the middle of the Heian period, and made his name as the head of the best four samurais who served Minamoto no Yorimitsu. This irezumi design depicts a scene known as “Ichijo Modoribashi”. In this tense scene, a demon who disguised himself as a beautiful woman, revealed his true identity, and attacked Tsuna at Modoribashi bridge.


The demon grabbed Tsuna’s hair and tried to take him away to Mt. Atago, but when Tsuna cut off his arm with the famous sword “Higekiri”, the demon ran away. In addition, Tsuna is known in a variety of other tales such as subduing Shuten-doji at Mt. Oe and exterminating the demon at Rashomon gate. From this, it is believed that the family crest of Watanabe, “three stars above one straight line” (here you can see it as his kimono pattern) has an amulet effect, and it is sometimes tattooed as a one-point.


In addition, the composition of a dragon which is known for creating the clouds and a tiger that is said to be a creator of the winds was a favorite theme among Sengoku warlords and Zen monks as an expression of champions and heroes. This dragon and tiger, which fully cover the front panels of the body in dynamic fashion, create a tremendous force that is as powerful as the masterpiece on the back and overwhelm the viewer.

※府中 彫剛氏のインタビュー記事はこちら
※See Fuchu Horigou’s interview here

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