Saturday, December 25, 2010

Irezumi the Art of Japanese Tattoos

Irezumi the Art of Japanese Tattoos
Irezumi the Art of Japanese TattoosJapanese tattoos are referred to in Japanese as irezumi which literally means the insertion of ink under the skin leaving a permanent mark or tattoo. Tattooing in Japan is thought to extend back to at least 10,000 years. The Ainu people, the indigenous people of Japan, are known to have used tattoos for decorative and social purposes for many thousands of years.

At the beginning of the Meiji period (running from around about 1868 to 1912) the Japanese government, wanting to project an image of a modern Japan to the west, outlawed tattoos, and irezumi took on connotations of criminality. Nevertheless, fascinated foreigners went to Japan seeking the skills of tattoo artists, and traditional tattooing continued underground.

Tattooing was legalized by the occupation forces in 1945, but unfortunately has kept a lot of its association with criminality. For many years, traditional Japanese tattoos were associated with the Yakuza, Japan's notorious mafia, and many businesses in Japan (such as public baths, fitness centers and hot springs) still ban customers with tattoos.

Irezumi the Art of Japanese Tattoos

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