芳柳 “鬼尽くし”





The magnificent full body suit, which could be titled “Oni-zukushi” (full of ogres), by Houryu who conveys the primitive taste of traditional Japanese tattooing to the present day. It is clear that the charm of his tattooing lies in his classic manner, moreover his uninhibited and daring imagination is also a major attraction.

In order to respect the hikeshi (firefighter) culture of Edo, Houryu basically keeps sleeves at a length of three-quarter, because it is slightly visible from a firefighter’s coat and is considered the chicest.

The upper arms and hikae (chest) were done by another artist.



Onis are the epitome of evil yokais that harm people, and in hell they are in charge of inflicting torment on the departed. While extremely fearsome, their mighty power has also been believed to repel evil. The Ganzan Daishi talisman, widely known as a good-luck charm, also depicts an image of an oni.

Tattooed on the thighs are a nue and a wazawai. The wazawai is a legendary creature that is said to create all calamities. There are various theories about its form, but here it takes a head like a tiger and cow’s body, as in Kyokutei Bakin’s book Chinsetsu Yumiharizuki.



Ro Chishin on the back in one of the great characters in Suikoden, with a huge muscular frame and unparalleled monstrous strength. He is known by the nickname “Kaosho” (flower monk) because he was a Buddhist monk and had tattoos all over his body. He was a good man who helped the weak and fought against the power, therefore he was a popular subject for ukiyo-e prints.

Note that this back piece was once finished in karasu-bori (black and gray), but then color was added at the client’s request.

※See Houryu’s interview here
And see more of his work on Instagram

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