Traditional Japanese Tattoo

Traditional Japanese Tattoo

Japanese Tattooing

A common passion in tattooing that owners Alex, Ryan and Nathan share, is their love of Japanese tattooing. This extends to other artists at the studio as well who have joined the crew in order to learn and develop their craft by working alongside like-minded tattoo artists. There are variations in style within the Japanese genre from artist to artist, but the main elements, based in tradition, are always present.

Tattoos in Japan: the Origins & History of Traditional Japanese Tattooing

Horimono (彫物) is a little-known term to the rest of the tattoo world but is one of the most used amongst Japanese tattooists. The use of this term emphasizes a deep respect for the practice. Other poetic terms are used in Japan to refer to Japanese tattooing: labor (和彫) “Japanese carving”, shisei (刺青) “pierce blue”, referring to the blue reflections that sumi ink usually takes as it ages, bunshin (文身), “body decoration” and many others. (Source: voyapon.com)

Who Was Getting Tattooed in Japan?

Commonly known as shokunin (職人), meaning craftsperson, were among the most fervent wearers of this new tattoo armor called Horimono. Traditional Japanese tattooing was also found among the civilian firemen of that period, called Shouboushi (消防士). For these trades, tattooing was a form of belonging as well as spiritual protection against flames. Indeed, fires were common in the city of Edo (former name of Tokyo), which was mainly made of wooden constructions. It’s the reason why representations related to water were common at the time. Couriers called hikyaku (飛脚) would cross the cities to deliver messages often dressed only in a loincloth. Tattooing thus became another way of dressing. Another group of people at this period adopted Horimono as a sign of belonging — the kyoukaku (侠客), street knights acting in organized gangs to protect the weak against thugs and the government; the ancestors of Yakuza. The latter also descended from bakuto (gambling managers) and tekiya (street vendors).

Inked and Exiled: a History of Tattooing in Japan

Japanese tattooing, or irezumi (入れ墨), is said to have originated in the Common Period (10,000 BCE-300 CE). Modern styles of tattooing seen today grew from the Edo Period (1603-1868), when tattooing in Japan became illegal (3). Tattooing in Japan has for the most part always been controversial, with ties to criminal activity and filial piety (2). Many establishments, such as public pools and hot springs, or onsens (温泉), outwardly ban those with visible tattoos, no matter how small they may be. With the growing number of Western visitors flocking to Japan, current laws and societal stigmas surrounding tattoos are becoming not only confusing, but harmful for this Japanese art form, as more and more government officials work to ban tattoos for natives but be respectful to inked visitors (2).

Irezumi: Explore the Ancient Techniques and Evolution of Traditional Japanese Tattoos

Today, traditional Japanese motifs, designs, and stylistic sensibilities remain popular sources of inspiration behind many contemporary tattoos. Often, many ink artists opt to combine the old with the new to create pieces that range from playful prints and patterns to delicate works of art. Regardless of specific style, these Japanese-inspired tattoos have one thing in common: roots in Resume, or traditional Japanese tattooing. (Source: mymodernmet.com)



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