1

RED CLOTH Horijin's favorite areas of the body for tattooing are the hips and buttocks, and this is an example of some of his best work. In this unique design he has transformed the area into a Shinto modesty apron of straw rope and paper tassels, which Sumo wrestlers wear in the ring at matches. Combining with this bow to the wrestler's strength is a bravo character from the Suikoden holding a cloth dyed red with blood. Wrestler, fantasy hero, and tattooed man become one.

Karen Capucilli

First, I'd like to thank Donald Richie for introducing me to the world of irezumi, and then Faubion Bowers for his all-encompassing knowledge of the world of Japan, past and present. I'm particularly grateful to Eelco Wolf, Barbara Hitchcock, and the Polaroid corporation for making the use of a remarkable camera possible. At Abbeville Press, I'd like to acknowledge the help of Mark Magowan, Walton Rawls, and Jim Wageman. Among the others who were of aid in seeing this project through are...

Note About The Camera

The camera with which these pictures were taken is one of only five in the world. It was generously made available for my use in Japan by Polaroid Corporation. Five feet high and three-and-a-half feet wide, it weighs two hundred pounds. Using standard Polacolor ER film in rolls, the camera provides an image twenty by twenty-four inches. As with other Polaroid cameras, the film is processed in the back of the camera, with a normal developing time of sixty to seventy seconds. Most of the pictures...

Info

KINTARO Horikin here turns his attention to Kintaro Golden Boy , one of the most popular characters in all Japanese folklore and fact, combining a local fertility god with an actual historical figure. Kintaro was a child, a sort of Superboy, whose prodigious feats of strength and perseverance have served as an ideal for a thousand years. Naked and red-complexioned, the child is depicted in art as fighting and subduing a giant carp. The legend of Kintaro is central to the celebration of Boy's...

Seven Gods Of Good Fortune

The client's protruding abdomen suggested to tattoo master Horiyoshi III a design involving the Seven Deities of Good Fortune, widely worshiped by the merchant class of the seventeenth century, the time of tattoo's greatest fashion, and still popularly revered even today. Hotei, the bald-headed and enormously fat central figure, represents largeness of soul and inner wealth of resources. He was historically an eccentric Zen priest and an incarnation of the messiah of future bliss, the Maitreya...

Tattoo

Abbeville Press, Publishers New York London, Paris Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 1. Tattooing Japan. 2. Japan Social life and customs. I. Title. GT2346.J3F45 1986 391 65'0952 86-14021 ISBN 0-89659-798-9 pbk. Copyright 1986 by Cross River Press, Ltd. All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information...

Japanese Peony Tattoo

Detailed Jap Dragon Tattoo

DARING Horikin practiced in his early years on his wife, experimenting with colors and techniques he would later perfect and become famous for. Her pale skin makes the colors particularly vibrant, and it is false modesty on his part to regard this early example of his work as unsophisticated. Over the stomach, between the peony breasts and the peony navel, sits the all-powerful, all-protective Chinese lion, benevolent and kindly but a fierce defender, symbolic of courage and fortitude. Guardian...

Ssps

Japanese Seppuku Tattoo

Young Japanese are requesting this sort of gruesome and violent tattoo, done here by Horiyoshi III. Again the cherry blossom, Japan's national flower, to emphasize the shortness and transience of life and the snake of temptation. Perhaps this is a Christian-influenced version of the Garden of Eden story seen through Japanese eyes. SEPPUKU below A dying man shown just after he has committed harakiri literally, stomach cutting , more properly seppuku.

Japanese Tattoo The Plates

RESTRAINT The most ubiquitous of all mythological beasts in Japan is the dragon, which one encounters as ornament or decoration in all aspects of daily life. Symbolically it denotes wealth the emperor's clothes are called dragon robes , and because it lives as easily in water as in air it protects from fire. The dragon is an all-powerful being, a composite monster that draws strengths from each of the creatures forming it. It is a serpent that has the horns of a deer, the scales of a carp, the...

Taiwan Horikin Tattoo

Irezumi Samourai

From that slender clue forensic detectives decipher the rest. Perhaps after all, Horikin's father is pleased with his son. The clients themselves are paradoxes most are men who are outwardly gentle, often lonely, eager to meet and impress women. Even those irezumi with rumored connections to crime and the underworld present themselves as courtly, shy individuals, proud of their tattoos that depict fierce warriors and legendary heroes. The irezumi simultaneously celebrate and conceal their...

The Japanese Tattoo

In the fall of 1982, Sandi Fellman, a young American photographer visiting Japan, began the series of color portraits in this striking volume. Her subjects were the Irezumi, a secretive group of people drawn from the underworld of Tokyo and Osaka. To meet these men and women who had chosen to have themselves transformed through tattooing into living works of art was difficult to gain their trust and to persuade them to bare themselves for an American woman and a huge Polaroid camera was an...

Mitsuaki Ohwada

Grey Wash Tattoo Method

GRAY DRAGON A detail of the dragon motif showing Western influence. In the cartoon style of manga comic book influence, Horiyoshi III has catered his genius to youthful tastes and given the traditional dragon a furry skin, a snout in the upper left-hand corner, fangs at the back of the jaw in the center, flamelike appendages and downward-pointing horns. The dragon and its background compose the yin-yang elements of opposites resolved and wholeness or oneness reinforced. The two group portraits...

Japanese Rocks Tattoos

ENDURANCE Peony nipples and navel attract the butterfly as the waves and rocks draw the carp. Above the solar plexus Horijin has tattooed the virtuous character shinobu, meaning endurance. This word has a subsidiary meaning also pertinent to the irezumi world, to hide oneself or to live in concealment. DEVOTION Appropriately, Horikin tattooed his wife's back with the Kwannon Hindu Avalokitesvara , the Buddhist goddess who is the All-Merciful One Surveying the World with Pity, and who rides a...

D M Thomas

The tattoo says, If you approach too closely, beware It is like the Medusa, with snakes in her hair, of Western mythology, and like Keats's snake-woman, the Lamia Eyed like a peacock, freckled like a pard, Vermilion-spotted, and all crimson-barr'd The irezumi's skin, which has borne the tiery pain of the needles, becomes cool, reptilian. The images of dragons, jagged lightning flashes, fish scales, and the ripplings of the moving body that a photograph cannot...

Jealousy By Horiyoshi

Japanese Jealous Wife Tattoo

JEALOUSY An original, Western-influenced rendition by Horiyoshi III of the Japanese traditional concept of the two-horned devil on of jealousy According to Japanese folklore, jealous women grow similar horns. In the wedding ceremony, they are hidden by the bride's white headdress. Many young Japanese today prefer images of generic toughness like these to traditional patterns. PHOENIX Horiyoshi III selected for his wife's back the legendary phoenix, the eternal bird of mythology who rises reborn...

Japanese Mythology Tattoo

Horiyoshi Iii

CARP The subject here is Horiyoshi III himself, as tattooed by his master Horiyoshi II. The scene is a fantasy of ocean waves and wind, eddies and whirlpools, all celebrating the persistence and fortitude of the heroic carp. Note the pierced nipple. Above Horiyoshi III holding his as yet untattooed son. NINJA RAT This subject was born in the Year of the Rat, the first one in the Oriental Zodiac. He chose the Ninja Rat for his back tattoo by Horikin. No one can explain why the rat, a rodent and...

Korean Flower Tattoo

LION DOG When Empress Jingo in A.D. 200 invaded Korea, the king of Korea swore to defend the Imperial Palace of Japan in perpetuity. The mythical Korean dog koma inu , here tattooed by Horigoro III, as well as the Chinese lion kara shishi , whose statues in stone or porcelain you see outside Japanese shrines, graves, and even private mansions, have become symbolic of guardianship, the protectors of sanctuaries. Their fierceness yang is always contrasted with the gorgeous peony flower yin for...

Japanese Tattoo

KABUKI PAIR New narratives were instantly formed as irezumi clustered together. Two separate tattoo scenes from Kabuki merge in this image. A seventeenth-century commoner hero forces open the mouth of a mythical crocodile beast in reality a sorcerer while his courtesan lover seemingly looks on in fright. Note that the woman's obi is worn tied in front, jocularly said to be because she spent so much time on her back. VORTEX Horikin is perhaps the most skilled and knowledgeable tattoo master in...

Horiyoshi Iii 100 Demons

BRAVERY Here Horiyoshi III depicts another tattooed hero from the Suikoden, the famous Chinese novel about the exploits of a band of 108 brave warriors. SPIDERWEB The client requested a delicate and detailed image for his underarm, one of the most painful areas to be tattooed and also one of the most dangerous. The needle pricks are constantly subjected to excretions from the sweat glands. The underarm hair suggested to Horikin the idea of a furry spider's web. The spider in Japan has dual...

Kintaro Horiyoshi

WATER Horikin delights in depicting earthly creatures and has varied traditional themes slightly. Young Kintaro here rides a slippery catfish, a red goldfish swims upstream to spawn, and the Lotus Prayer encircles the left thigh while a whiskered catfish forlornly cuts through the prayer. Opposite Close-up of Kintaro riding the catfish. BLOSSOM Horiyoshi III turned for this full-back tattoo to Utamaro's ukiyo-e series of beautiful women of Yoshiwara's gay quarters, many of whom were themselves...

Jap Tattoos Waves

Japanese Waves

CENTER AND WISDOM This back tattoo is called k me, or tortoise, because it resembles the protective shell on the turtle's back. Again the belly, especially thrust out when posing for this photograph, represents wealth and absence of hardships. Horijin here is the subject and Horishiba the artist tattooer. Horijin started his professional life as a painter but turned to tattooing when he tired of drawing on paper's flat surfaces. FLIRTATION The legs are enveloped in patterns of peonies, waves,...

Kintaro And Maple Leaves

Find Your Way Tattoo

Kintaro again in mortal struggle with the powerful carp. This time he is older, armed, fully clothed, and tied with a bow at the obi in lieu of the haramaki . The maple leaves suggest the passage of time or aging. Horiichi's signature chop, or han, is at the top left of the full-back tattoo. PERSEVERANCE Horijin tells here the famous Chinese story of the iioness mother who tossed her favorite, still suckling cub down a ravine to train and encourage him to climb back to her. It is a legend of...

Playboy Tattooed

KABUKI PLAYBOY Benten Kozo, one of the most popular and beloved scoundrels of the Kabuki repertoire was a thief whose beauty was such that he could disguise himself as a woman and ply his trade to great effect. When he is caught stealing from a dry goods store, he at last reveals himself as a man and undresses from women's clothing to expose a very tattooed man. It is this stage moment that Horijin has captured in this tattoo. The client's spine divides the tattoo the left side shows Benten...

Japanese Clouds Tattoo

Dragon Tattoo Penis

THUNDERBOLT Horiichi has tattooed a series of near abstractions on this client, who asked for the fury of the elements. Here are wind, thunder, lightning, and clouds tossed in turbulence. TABOO These men have been tattooed by Horikin on the left, and Horigoro II on the right. The prayer Nam Myo Ho Ren Ge Kyo Hail to the Lotus Scripture of the Good Law derives from the fanatical Nichiren sect of Buddhism founded in A.D. 1253, whose six million followers today are still much addicted to chanting...