Unless you’re a die hard fan of Irezumi work, the subjects and motifs that are often used in the style can be a bit confusing. The symbology and mythology behind the Hannya masks, Fu dogs, and namakubi is a rich and long one that dates back to the beginnings of the art of tattooing. Perhaps one of the best styles for telling full and complete stories through the use of tattoos, Irezumi work is intricate in both detail and meaning. While all of that complex history can be a bit intimidating at times, artist Yutaro, aka Warriorism, does a phenomenal job of introducing it to the masses.
Tattooing out of Seven Doors Tattoo in East London, which is also home to fan favorites like Claudia de Sabe and Dani Quiepo, Yutaro’s Irezumi work is some of the best we’ve seen. Characterized by his artistic choice to focus on a single subject rather than incorporating several different ones, Yutaro’s work is beautiful and straightforward.
Graceful cranes, mythical dragons, and revered samurai warriors are just a few of the many subjects that grace his work. Bold in both color and style, Yutaro tends to focus on larger pieces. In his rendition of a phoenix, a mythological bird whose appearance in Irezumi often represents rebirth and resurrection, Yutaro’s one and only accompaniment to the bird are cherry blossoms, which also happen to represent the fragility of human life. It is a wonderfully uncomplicated message — the dichotomy of resurrection versus the fragility of human life. In this way, Yutaro ensures that the the beautiful message behind both his work and the Irezumi style as a whole is understood.
The Irezumi style is rife with hidden meanings, underlying messages, and symbolism, but that’s not to say it can’t be enjoyed by everyone. Through Yutaro’s straightforward take on the style, you might just become an Irezumi lover yet.