“Carp with Autumn Leaves”
Kansai HORISHIGE the 5th
関西 五代目彫重 “鯉に紅葉”




Shichibu-sode (three-quarter sleeve) of a pair of koi carps and autumn leaves by Horishige the 5th, an inheritor of traditional irezumi based in Osaka. The relative simplicity of the subject further emphasizes the importance of gaku (background) in Japanese tattooing.

The fact that this work is so impressive despite being composed mainly only black and vermilion ink is clearly due to the power of dynamic gaku.



Koi carp and autumn leaves are often depicted as matching designs not only in irezumi but also in paintings and kimono. It is because the color and luster of carp become even better in autumn when the water temperature drops, and the combination with the autumn leaves reflected or scattered on the surface of the water has been pleasing to people’s eyes since ancient times.

There is no need to combine carp and autumn leaves, as there is no certain lore like that of karajishi and peony. But there is no doubt that it fits well with the Japanese sense of beauty that loves the color of the four seasons.

※See Horishige 5th’s interview here
And see more of his work on Instagram

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