This is an outstanding munewari work of Kumonryu Shishin, which Machida Horiken claims to be “my masterpiece at this point in time”. It shows the traditional flavor of typical Kanto-bori, but there are also some original attempts, such as drawing the outline of niju-bori on Shishin in white. This is a skillful fusion of tradition and creativity.
When it comes to munewari, it won’t be completed no matter how many years pass, as long as a client visits the studio only when he or she has extra time or money. Without his or her clear purpose to finish and the commitment to devote everything to irezumi until its completion, such a great work of art could not have been created.
Shishin is one of the heroes from Chinese novel “Suikoden” and known by the nickname “Kumonryu” (nine dragons) because he wore a bodysuit tattoo of nine dragons. His strong and bold character was favored by Edo people, and he was depicted in many ukiyo-e prints. The figure seen here, wielding a long staff with his upper body bare, is a typical example of them, and has been widely used as a subject for irezumi.