Sensual Homage to the Traditional Irezumi Tradition by Senju Shunga
Marijn Kruijff
2 min

Sensual Homage to the Traditional Irezumi Tradition by Senju Shunga

2 min

Senju Shungas close relationship with tattooing is evident in his latest work ‘Iki (Chic – Fig.1)’. An irezumi (tattoo) artist is working on a large tattoo of a chrysanthemum (a Japanese symbol of royalty, longevity and rejuvenation) on the back of a young woman. She smokes a pipe to distract herself from the pain. In front of her lies a tattoo design of a dragon (Ryu).

Hiroshige and Kuniyoshi

On the screen in the background two woodblock prints are visible, on the left a Hiroshige print (Fig.7) with a carefully observed study of a carp in his natural habitat and on the right partly visible a famous design by Kuniyoshi depicting the monk Mongaku Shōnin (1139-1203) doing penance under the waterfall; two acolytes, Kongara and Seitaka, appear above him (Fig.8).

senju shunga Iki chic

Fig.1. ‘Iki (Chic)‘ (3 Sept 2021)

Boddhisatva of Compassion

On his Instagram Senju adds the following, ‘Besides being an homage to the traditional Japanese tattoo tradition that have enriched my life for so many years, it is also a celebration of myself and what I have experienced and accomplished in my life! The small senjafuda (edo style business card/ paper sticker attached to the folding screen in this Edo period tattoo studio shows the title under which I tattooed. It says “Horimatsu”. “Hori” means “to carve/engrave” and “Matsu” means “pine tree”. My painter name, Senju, is reminiscent of my tattoo title. The Kanji used to write Senju is “Sen” (thousand) and “Kotobuki” (long life). It refers to the pine which is considered a symbol of longevity, but it also refers to Senju Kannon, the Boddhisatva of compassion that has a thousand hands to help all beings in need.’

girl with the peony tattoo


tattoo peony flower


tattoo senju shunga


dragon tattoo senju shunga


Irezumi Iki Senju Shunga


Carp Print Large Fish Hiroshige

Fig.7. ‘Carp‘ (1840-42) from an untitled series known as ‘Large Fish‘ by Utagawa Hiroshige (Collection Mfa Boston)

'Mongaku doing penace at the Nachi waterfall by Kuniyoshi

Fig.8. ‘Mongaku doing penace at the Nachi waterfall‘ (1860) by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (

Click HERE for the work of the sensual tattoo artist Ozuma Kaname….!!

This Iki piece can be obtained at the following page. At the moment he offers 40% discount on all prints and books!

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