Yellow Blaze Tattoo


【稀代の刺青仏師が紡ぐ 祈りの曼荼羅】



When facing a Shige original piece in person, you are instantly left breath-taken by how intense his spirit is hidden deep within the tattoo. This is not due to the ming-bogging precision and the vast amounts of time that can be inferred from the beauty, but from the energy that overwhelms the viewer, transcending the technique and proving the time poured into each work of art. But a question often asked is, what exactly sets Shige tattoos apart from other artists?

今さらYELLOW BLAZE TATTOO代表、SHIGE氏の経歴を詳らかに紐解く必要はあるまい。独学にて日本はおろか世界屈指の刺青の名手にまで昇り詰めたその功績を知らぬ者はいないだろう。それは天賦によるものではなく、己を鼓舞し続ける苦行の日々の果てに辿り着いた頂だ。


As the majority of the people reading this article already know Shige from Yellow Blaze Tattoo, a long introduction is not required. He is world renowned for his achievements and it is fair to say that he is one of Japan’s top tattoo artists, as well as one of the greatest in the world. He is self-taught and acquired his unique style, not from a divine gift, but as the result of continuous self-development-like asceticism.

“Everything is only for the client”, Shige explains as he reiterates why he puts so much effort into his work, even to the point of wearing himself out. In giving a person something to carry for the rest of their life, Shige has imposed onto himself the sentiment to “always exceed what is required of me”.



The only way to achieve this is to go beyond oneself and never be content with one’s own current abilities. The goal of an artist of his stature, is to always be moving into a more advanced stage in his career, which exceeds the limits in each session. What he seeks beyond the pain of his creations is not fame, but rather, the joy of his clients who have trusted in him and entrusted their bodies to his process.

The woman who kindly agreed to be photographed during this session completed a body suit by Shige nearly 15 years ago, and is now on her second round of her full body project. It is not uncommon to go to a different artist when completing a second body suit, but she insisted on Shige. Her complete trust in his willingness to improve and his benevolence to his clients, makes taking on this new step in her journey of hardship, easier.




Shige emphasizes that his tattooing style is “unmistakably Japanese irezumi”.

In Japanese art and martial arts alike, there is a concept called 守破離 (shu-ha-ri). 守 means to follow, 破 means to break, and 離 means to leave in this case. First, you must completely “follow” the kata taught by your master and train faithfully to master it. Next, you should absorb the virtues of other schools and hone yourself, which leaves you with the ability to “break” the existing kata. After further training, you finally reach a state of freedom where you can “leave” the kata and create something new on your own without being conscious of both 守 and 破.

As Shige is self-taught, in his mind, a master is not a specific individual but an original tradition. His tattooing continued through the 守 stage, and was honed in the 破 stage, he is now able to open up a new horizon. This new style is distinct from Japanese classic irezumi in its depiction, but is entirely similar in the spirituality that share the same root.



In addition, the presence of the Buddha occupies an extremely important position in Shige’s tattooing. A person who exclusively carves Buddhist statues is called a busshi (Buddhist sculptor), and one who paints Buddhist pictures is called an e-busshi (Buddhist painter), so fittingly, Shige calls himself an irezumi-busshi (Buddhist tattooer). As such, he devotes his life to tattooing Buddhist images on his clients’ skin. He says, “There are demons and Buddhas in everyone”, and as such does not depict outside images on his clients. Rather, he finds the image that is already inside on them, and makes it appear on the body.

In the past, busshis were tasked with putting their wishes of peace and salvation for the sentient beings in the world during their era, into their art. Shige values the personal connection between himself and his clients, and continually is wishing them a peaceful and happy life during the tattoo process.



“Life is full of suffering, sadness, anger, and a lot of pain, and sometimes it is unrelenting. However, I still believe that life is beautiful”. This is a passage Shige posted on one of his social media posts along with a photo of one of his newly completed back pieces.

The essence of the overwhelming energy, mentioned earlier, lies in the sincere prayer that is embedded in his work. His tattoos are not just decorations to add color to bodies, they are more importantly the embodiment of his prayer.



Shige is currently working on a plan for an exhibition which he regards as the culmination of his career. It will be an unprecedented exhibition in which his tattooed clients come together to show their amazingly tattooed bodies.

He has always regarded his encounters with people as Buddhist karma and cherished them as such. This exhibition will be like a great mandala which Shige, as the unparalleled Buddhist tattooer, has spent his life weaving through his Buddhist karma. Unlike sculptures and paintings, the art of tattooing only lives in the present and cannot be viewed in a historical sense. We are grateful for the fortuitous chance to be living in the same era as Shige and eagerly wait for what is next to come on his journey.

Yellow Blaze Tattoo

住所: 神奈川県横浜市中区石川町1-15-6 東源元町ビル5F
営業時間: 10:00〜19:00(不定休)
電話: 045-662-7807

Address: Togenmotomachi Building 5F, 1-15-6 Ishikawa-cho, Naka-ku, Yokohama city, Kanagawa
Business hour: 10:00〜19:00(Irregular Holidays)
Phone: (+81)45-662-7807
※Appointment only.


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