Ichikawa Danjuro IX as Kyumonryu Shishin
One of the main heroes of the novella Suikoden is Kumonryü Shishin, whose name means "the nine-dragoned" and whose body is tattooed with nine swirling dragons. He is one of the well-intentioned bandits whose Robin Hood-like antics were frequently displayed on the Kabuki stage. Ichikawa Danjurö IX is shown here in his role of Kumonryü Shishin, with his elaborately tattooed back revealed from under the cover of his Chinese style robe. Because the image of a dragon was thought to summon WATER, it became a popular tattoo among Edo firemen of the period, a city prone to fire. Kuniyoshi's 1827 illustrations of the 108 Suikoden heroes had an enormous impact on tattoo designs, which continues to this day. It is not uncommon to see people today wearing the tattoos worn by the fictional heroes (such as a dragon) as well as tattoos of the heroes themselves.
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