If I ever get the chance to do an irezumi tattoo, I know exactly which motive I would chose.
Jigoku Dayua is a famous courtesan from the Muromachi era.
The daughter of a samurai captured by his enemies & sold to a brothel. Serving as a courtesan to the Zen priest Jyyku, she studies Buddhism to free herself from the horrid destiny forced upon her. She renamed herself Jigoku-Dayu, Courtesan of Hell and wore a kimono with scenes of Hell on it. Jigoku-Dayu often appears haunted by skeletons & ghosts of other courtesans & the damned.
First time I saw this tattoo on Shoko Tendo (Yakuza Moon) and since then I just can't stop thinking about it. It's because of the story that goes with it.