Japanese Scripture Tattoo – Opening Line of The Tale of The Heike

One of the most famous Japanese scripture/verse in brush stroke writing styles for tattoo is available for instant download. The Japanese symboles are available in 3 different writing styles for your preference. Created and verified by a native Japanese speaker. 100% accurate and Your favourite tattoo artist DOES NOT need to know any Japanese.

Japanese Scripture Tattoo on Ribs
Style 1
Japanese Scripture/verse Tattoo
Style 2

The most famous Japanese scripture for tattoo

The following scripture talks about the impermanence and fragility of all things using the downfall of the most powerful Samurai clan at the time,

祇園精舍の鐘の声、 諸行無常の響きあり。 娑羅双樹の花の色、 盛者必衰の理をあらはす。 奢れる人も久しからず、 ただ春の夜の夢のごとし。 猛き者もつひにはほろびぬ、 ひとへに風の前の塵に同じ。

The Jetavana Temple bells ring the passing of all things. Twinned sala trees, white in full flower, declare the great man’s certain fall. The arrogant do not long endure: They are like a dream one night in spring. The bold and brave perish in the end: They are as dust before the wind.

Translation by Royall Tyler

The sound of the Gion Shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sāla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind

Translation by Helen Craig McCullough


Background and Meaning

The tale of Heike (平家物語:Heike Monogatari) is a war chronicle as well as an epic account compiled before 1330 depicting the fights between the Taira clan and Minamoto clan over the power to control the entire Japan at the end of the 12th century in the Genpei War (1180–1185) The main theme of the story is the Buddhist law of impermanence (諸行無常

After defeating the Minamoto Clan who had had the support from the Japanese imperial family in 1161, the Taira clan prospered and got so arrogant to the point where they even advocated that ‘If you are not one of us(not a Taira member), you are not a human’. That arrogance and vainglory led to the destruction of Taira clan in the end, defeated by the revitalised Minamoto clan.

The fact that their glory lasted only 20 years symbolise the theme of the story, Impermanence.

Yoshitsune(義経), a genius military commander from the Minamoto clan who won numerous battles against the Taira clan eventually got betrayed by his older brother, Yoritomo (頼朝)and fled to Hiraizumi for protection. Hiraizumi was the seat of the Northern branch of the Fujiwara family, another big clan who stayed neutral during the Genpei war,  and thus flourishing with their own culture and political system.

However, because of protecting Yoshitsune, the Fujiwara clan too got destroyed by the Minamoto clan in the end.

Matsuo Basho, the most famous poet in the Edo period, also wrote one of the most famous Haiku when visited Hiraizumi to express this impermanence.


Summer grass, all the warriors are, but the remains of dreams

If you are interested in visiting Japan for holiday, then learning its history will definitely make your trip more enjoyable, especially visiting Historical sites. The Tale of Heike is available in English and I highly recommend this masterpiece regardless of visiting Japan or not.

➡️ The Tale of the Heike

Trivia : Story behind the Japanese national flag

It is said that the current Japanese flag (a red circle on a white background) has been inherited from the Minamoto clan’s flag.

They used this design because their enemy’s (the Taira clan) flag had the same design but in a different colour (a white circle on a red background). Red colour being sacred (as you can see the colour is commonly used on the shrine gate, torii) is the symbol of the imperial court. The Taira clan used this colour as their background claiming that they are a government army.

Above is the folding screen picture depicting the famous episode during the Genpei war where Yoichi Nasuno who fought alongside with the Minamoto clan shooting off a fan in the distance.  This is because the Taira clan placed a fan atop on one of their ships and dared the Minamoto clans to shoot it off. As you can see, the design of the fan is a white circle on a red background.

Instant Download

There is a button to download the file right after checkout and no need to wait for me to send it to you. Then you just simply forward it to your favourite tattoo artist. The letters are 100% accurate and he/she does not need to know any Japanese. The file contains both calligraphy style and line art (Stencil).Stencil is what your tattoo artist must have to ink the tattoo as it serves as the outline to trace the artwork onto your skin.

NOTE : The letters DO NOT NEED TO BE MIRRORED, they should appear just as it appears on the print-out.


All letters in any file with ‘verse‘ tag fits in a 22cm (8.66inch) x 8cm (3.14) frame. Depending on the number of letters, the size of the letters vary and the letters may not fill the entire frame. New line starts after certain syllables in accordance with the rules of Japanese verse.

Verse Tattoo Example

Please select the pdf version if you want to resize the letters to your perfect needs as it is illustrator-editable and resize-friendly. Your tattoo artist can make it bigger or smaller with no problem.

Here are the example files for your reference.

3 different styles

You have 3 writing styles to choose from for this design.

each style gives different impressions and I have summarised in the gallery above.

How to order

Just simply tick your preferred style and hit the ‘purchase’ button. You have 3 writing styles to choose from for this design. Each style gives different impressions. In a nutshell,

  • Style 1: Elegant, Delicate
  • Style 2: Chic, Sophisticated
  • Style 3: Earnest, Sincere

Japanese Scripture Tattoo style comparison


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Product Information

  • Last Updated

    July 22, 2021

  • Price


  • Released

    September 19, 2020

  • Sales

    3 sales

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