Tamatori hime, the “jewel-taking princess”

princess Tamatori hime in the good old times tattoo blog

Tamatori hime is the nickname of a legendary ama – a pearl diver. She dove down to the bottom of the sea to retrieve a priceless lost jewel.

There are just a few heroines in Japanese mythology. That’s why we think it’s a very special motif for a Japanese tattoo in the form of a backpiece, sleeve or even a complete bodysuit. Here at Good Old Times Tattoo Berlin you can make his brave pearl diver yours!

Salty hair

Tamatori was made for the sea. Like her mother, and her mother before. She spent her childhood on the shore. Running barefoot over rocks and fishing crabs and small treasures from over-flowing tide pools. She then spent her adulthood at the bottom of the waves, fishing pearls and soft-fleshed delicacies from the ocean floor. 

She used to see her life through the filter of sunlight drifting down through choppy waters. Through the sting of salt in her eyes, salt that cracked on her skin when she walked the shore. Through the thick seaweed hair that rippled around her, forming currents of its own as she spun through the waves.

Her knife was never far from her hand, as she chipped oysters free of their stone’s rugged grip. The burn was never far from her lungs as she held her breath like a pearl inside her chest.

Tamatori had always been made for the sea.

A ship full of treasures

In 669 CE, Fujiwara no Kamatari, the founder of the influential family clan of the Fujiwara, died. When his daughter Byakkō, living in China, received news of her father’s death, she was overcome with grief. She sent a ship full of treasures from China to her brother Fujiwara no Fuhito as an offering for their father’s memorial service. Among these were three of China’s most unique treasures: a bronze bell called Kagenkei, a carved stone called Shihinseki, and a flawless jewel called Menkōfuhai no Tama.

As the ship sailed, the sky grew dark and the sea grew furious. The waters washed over the deck and a great dragon was spotted swimming between the waves – it was Ryūjin, the Dragon King. He snatched Menkōfuhai no Tama from the ship. Then sunk down to the sea floor, taking the priceless jewel with him.

Fujiwara and Tamatori’s fate

When Fujiwara no Fuhito heard of the theft, he went to search for it. Even if he did everything to find the jewel, his search was in vain. While investigating, he met and fell in love with an ama named Tamatori. She had no idea who he was, nor what fate befell him in his past. This was to remain his secret for years. Time passed, both had a wonderful son and lived happily as a family for several years.

One day, Fujiwara decided to reveal his noble identity and his reason for coming to Shido to his wife. As an ama, Tamatori was able to dive down to the bottom of the sea. Out of her love for Fuhito, she resolved to recover the lost jewel for him or to die trying.

The Quest

Down, down, down she swam into the dark waters, deeper than she ever had gone before. The darkness engulfed her more and more until the surface looked like a distant dream. When even the bubbles of her breath disappeared in the darkness, there she was: Ryūgū, the vast supernatural palace of Ryūjin, the Dragon King.

She slipped into Ryūgū and found Menkōfuhai no Tama. Ryūjin himself was guarding it. Tamamo quickly snatched the jewel.

The second that she touched it the ocean came alive around her. On every side sea-monsters rushed to Ryūjin call and an army of creatures from the deep allied against Tamatori to retrieve the jewel. Sharks opened their terrible jaws, swordfish darted at her, shiny jellyfish stung her with their stingers, cuttlefish blinded her eyes with their inky spittle and devilfish entangled her limbs with clinging tentacles. While the dragon stood apart and smiled upon her with his evil smile.

If breath had been less precious, Tamatori may have screamed. Tamatori was a fast swimmer but, swift as she may be, no human could outswim a dragon. As he rose beneath her, closer, Tamatori knew that soon he would be upon her. She knew she would not make it to the surface.

Just before the dragon caught her, Tamatori-hime remembered a legend: dragons can only take things from the living. They cannot remove things from a dead person. She therefore thrust her knife into her chest, hid the jewel inside her, and slowly floated up to the surface of the sea.

Her cold hands, crossed upon her breast, still guarded the coveted treasure. The smile upon her pallid face was wondrous to behold. With her last breaths, she told Fuhito where she hid the jewel. Then she died in his arms.

The divine was so moved by Tamatori-hime’s self-sacrifice that it was decided to make her immortal. She became Tamatori Hime, the goddess of pearl divers.

Be your own hero

As you could read, Princess Tamatori Hime is a very special tattoo motif and is particularly suitable as a Japanese tattoo. With Tamatori Hime on your back, dragons and sea monsters on your arms and legs, a one-of-a-kind bodysuit is complete.

Japanese tattoos in Berlin

There are different versions of this legend so we hope this one piqued your interest and inspired you.

For Japanese tattoos in Berlin, you can visit Good Old Times Tattoo Berlin any time and make an appointment for a consultation.

You can as well contact us through our contact form to reserve your personal consultation slot 😉 The strength and courage of Tamatori are waiting to end up on your skin! 😉