The Hilarious Universe of Tattoo Artist Hiroshi Hirakawa
Marijn Kruijff
3 min

The Hilarious Universe of Tattoo Artist Hiroshi Hirakawa

3 min

On his site where the renowned tattoo artist Hiroshi Hirakawa presents his works he uses the subtitle ‘The Giga World‘.  Giga refers to a tradition of caricatural, satirical and humorous pictures excluding words. Almost all these ingredients are applicable to the exciting paintings of this original artist.

Tattooed lady in the waves with sensual octopus

vagina close up

Tattoo World

His paintings are instantly recognizable as they are strongly rooted in the ukiyo-e* tradition,  He adopted the ancient ukiyo-e drawing style and blends it with cultural aspects of the present.  It should come as no surprise that Hiroshi is grounded in the tattoo world since many of the protagonists are heavily-tattooed and also because of his use of strong vivid colors.

tattooed actress wearing fishnet tights

two octopuses with mermaid

tattooed geisha - prostitute with skull

iPod and Starbucks

The portrayed figures in his striking universe contain kabuki actors and actresses (mostly tattooed), abalone divers, mermaids, octopuses, giant spiders, whales, skulls, fox spirit (kitsune) including their flames. Sometimes Hiroshi adds contemporary consumer goods and products such as origami cranes, an iPod with earphones and Starbucks cups. His images often contain a surplus of stamps, cartouches and signatures including Japanese characters divided all over the design.

tattooed man with oni mask and squatting geisha and koi carp

tattooed lady on the rocks with octopus and thunder


During their 40 year anniversary world tour in 2015 which started in Tokyo, the band KISS were asked to support The Ukiyo-e Project. This project led by Yuka Mitsui aims to revive ukiyo-e art by bridging the gap between Japanese art and contemporary pop culture.

Giant Bat

At least two of the prints were designed by Hiroshi Hirakawa. One of the designs (see video!) depicts Paul Stanley dressed as a samurai fighting off a giant cat while being attacked at the same time by a monstrous bat wearing Gene Simmons’ Demon mask. The other print depicts them as members of the Loyal 47 Ronin (see picture below!).

kiss - gene simmons - paul stanley - ace frehley

The band KISS as the Loyal 47 Ronin (clockwise from above left Tommy Thayer, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer and Paul Stanley)

dying woman holding a skull by hiroshi hirakawa

Dying woman with skull

painting depicting a shrine on a graveyard with a skeleton, a rat, snake, frog a bat and a portrait of a kissing couple by hiroshi hirakawa


The following video includes 14 other entertaining paintings by Hiroshi Hirakawa…

Hiroshi Hirakawa

*Ukiyo-e is a Japanese art movement that was dominant from the 17th through 19th centuries. The involved artists depicted subjects of everyday life. It literally means ‘Pictures From the Floating World’

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