Born May 1st 1876 in Kamiokuwacho, Gifu City, Igawa was the son of Igawa Yohei. His real name was Igawa Jōzaburō 井川常三郎 and at some point he took the name Sengai as his artist name (gō). Igawa was a painter, illustrator and print designer. He studied nihonga (Japanese-style painting) with Tomioka Eisen (1868-1912) and printmaking under Inano Toshitsune (1858-1907). He graduated from the Taiheiyōgakai Kenkyūsho, a private Western-style painting school operated from 1904-1929 by Taiheiyōgaka (Pacific Western-Style Painting Association.,He served in the Russo-Japanese War and after his repatriation joined the staff of the newspaper Miyako shinbun, as an illustrator. While at the Miyako he worked on illustrations for the newspaper’s serialization, starting in 1913, of the epic novel by Nakazato Kaizan (1885-1944) titled Daibosatsu tōge 大菩薩峠 (Great Bodhisattva Pass). He is considered one of the pioneers of book and magazine illustration contributing to such popular magazines such as Kingu (King), Fujin gahō (Graphic Magazine for Women) and Kōdan Kurabu (The Storytelling Club) and creating illustrations for novels such as Gotō Chūgai’s (1868-1938) A Pair of Pines (Hiyoku no matsu), Lady Shizuka (Shizuka gozen) by the female writer Hasegawa Shigure (1879-1941) and The Gold Demon (Konjiki Yasha) by Ozaki Kōyō (1868-1903).