Fudō-myōō, (Acala in sanskrit, which means immovable), is one of the most powerful character in Japanese tattooing, but also one of the less renowned.

Fudō-myōō is the personification of Dainichi Nyorai, and the best known of the Myōō, who are venerated especially by the Shingon sect of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism. He is primarily revered in Buddhism Vajrayana, where is classed among the Five Wisdom Kings.

MIke Rubendall
MIke Rubendall

Myōō is the Japanese term for Sanskrit “Vidyaraja”, a group of warlike and wrathful deities known in English as the Wisdom Kings, or the Knowledge Kings.
His statue appear ferocious and menacing, with threatening postures and faces designed to subdue evil and frighten unbelievers into accepting Buddhist law, they remove all obstacle to enlightenment, and force evil to surrender. Fudō-myōō is depicted with a strong and fierce physical appearance.
His faces expressive of extreme wrath, is wrinkle browed, the left eye squinted or looking askance with the lower teeth biting the upper lip and a braid on the one side of his head. He has the body of a round- bellied child, is engulfed in flames, and is seated on a huge rock base, and he also bear a straight sword in his right hand, and a lariat in his left hand.

Fudō-myōō is said to be a powerful deity who protects all by burning down all impediments, thus aiding them towards the enlightenment.

The sword he holds may or may not be flaming and sometimes is described generally as a Vajara-sword, howewer , in some times, as in the Akafudō-myōō (Red Fudō), the divinity is seen holding the Kurikara-ken, a sword with a dragon coiled around it which also has a vajra-shaped pommel.
Around the deity figure there is often a flaming nimbus which is known as the “Kakura flame”, after a mythical firebreathing birdlike creature, the Garuda.


His seat, the huge rock base (banjakuza), is considered an appropriate symbol to demonstrate the steadfastness of Fudō. As seen in many back-piece, in the lower part of the tattoo or often on the upper legs are depicted two boy servant in attendance of him, and are named Kongara-doji and Seitaka-doji.
In the Irezumi tradition Fudō-myōō is primarily used for great-shaped works such as back piece or front piece, in order to incorporate all the many details that feature in this subject and is often seen like a great protection tattoo.
In the past Fudō has been the main subject of the annual art show established by the great Luke Atkinson of The Checker Demon Tattoos, the show is now at the fourth edition.
It is also the main character of a book published by the famous Kazuaki Kitamura, also known as Horitomo.