This is an excellent kora-bori (carapace style irezumi) in which Kintaro in vivid vermilion lively grabs onto a giant carp in sumi black, against the gaku background as heavy and fine-grained as black ore. The artist is Tennoji Horiharu, known for his tebori technique that combines strength and delicacy.
Although the carp and the background are depicted in the same color, the skillful use of different shade tones gives the carp a presence that makes it seem as if it is popping out rather than being buried in the gaku.
The dynamic splashing waves show the fierce movements of the giant carp as it tries to shake Kintaro off. In this way, the gaku is not just a backdrop to fill the blank space, but also a stage set that complements the movement of the subject and adds story nature.
Kintaro, also known as Kaidomaru, is the childhood name of Sakata-no-Kintoki who was given an important position by Minamoto-no-Yorimitsu and defetaed various monsters. He had extraordinary strength, as the legend has it that he won a sumo wrestling match against a bear in his childhood. The so-called “Dakigoi” (grabbing carp) seen here depicts Kintaro capturing a giant carp that ate people, cattle and horses.