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It should be noted that the tattoo art had a very negative connotation associated with it for the vast majority of the Japanese people.
The earliest traces of the art of tattooing belong to the Ainu people who were amongst the early settlers of Japan.
The highly advanced Chinese neighbors of the Japanese thought that the practice of tattooing was in fact a barbaric art. It was during the Edo period that Japanese tattoo art really begin to flourish as part of the floating world culture. It was in the 18th century that tattooing became an official punishment for those who transgressed the law.
Such a punishment was giving rise to a new class of outcasts that were looked down upon by society. Today however we find that the concept of tattooing has drastically changed from what it used to be back in those years. This turnaround has come as the result of many silver screen flicks that have portrayed tattoos to be something fashionable. We would like to thank Horimyo for taking the time to talk to us and for allowing us to film his very personal work.
If you would like to know more about Horimyo, see more of his work, or even talk to him about possibly creating a tattoo for you the next time you’re in Tokyo, please check out his official website. 1K Films is a full production independent video company working in both the US & Japan.
Tattoo designs can be a great source of inspiration for creatives, from small ornamental ink to meaningful tribal tattoos. Sign up below to get the latest from Creative Bloq, plus exclusive special offers, direct to your inbox!
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Read on to discover the legacy associated with Traditional Japanese tattoo art.The art of tattooing has a long and rich history in Japan. With the transition of Buddhism from China to Japan they too adopted the same perception for the art of tattooing.

Prostitutes would use tattoos to adorn themselves in order to attract their potential clientele. Amongst the most common criminals of those times were the ronins; the master less samurais.
Although it continues to have a negative connotation for the majority in Japan it is increasingly being taken as a means of making a fashion statement. The hip hop culture of the west has inspired a large number of the youth from these countries to get themselves tattooed as a means of making a fashion statement. While most tattoo artists today use tattoo machines, all of Horimyo’s art work is applied by his own hands.
Tattoos have become very popular and it’s nice to see other people that have the same interest. You can unsubscribe at any time and we'll never share your details without your permission. The practice of making tattoos has been a prominent part of the Japanese culture although the perception of the art form has changed over the years. Traditional Irezumi is the practice of tattoo making on large parts of the body such as the back. In Japan having a tattoo means that you are either part of the Japanese mafia known as Yakuza or a low class macho man. A ring tattoo on the forearm was placed for every offense and in other cases a character tattoo would be drilled on the criminal’s forehead.
This outcast clan formed the basis of the Japanese mafia as they had no other choice but to organize themselves in gangs and conduct crimes. The Japanese, being masters at the art are now cashing in on the practice although they themselves by and large detest it. In recent years, many younger Japanese people have begun embracing tattoos as fashion statements, like people do in many western countries. He also took time to tell us about why he strongly believes in traditional Japanese tattoo and the power of art made by hand.
In Japan, the indigenous Ainu people used facial tattoos as membership symbols to their clans.
However, there remains a group of traditional Japanese tattoo artists who look at body art as something more than fashion – something spiritual and deeply personal. Even today, they are associated with the yakuza, the Japanese mafia, and if you have a visible tattoo you are often forbidden from entering a sento - the bath houses that form an integral part of Japanese community life.

But while they have negative connotations for the older generation, a younger generation are keen to explore their heritage through creating beautiful tattoo art. Here we've gathered some beautiful and inspiring examples of Japanese tattoo designs, created by some of the greatest studios across the Asian nation. Horitata Horitata's work echoes the Edo period, the golden era of Japanese tattoo designBased in Tokyo, Horitata is a huge fan of American design, but his work is mostly inspired by the Edo period (1600-1868), the golden age of traditional Japanese tattoo design.
The character here really stands out from the background, making it instantly recognisable, even from a distance. Yellow Blaze Although influenced by tradtional Japanese designs, Shige has created his own original styleThe dragon tattooed on this skull was created by Shige, a self-taught tattooist based in Yokohama who is the founder of Yellow Blaze Tattoo. While the basis of his work is Japanese history and traditional culture, Shige has created his own original style, which he describes as a never-ending work in progress. En En gives traditional Japanese tattoo designs a modern lookEn works at Genko Studio in Nagoya, which is well known for his modern spin on traditional Japanese tattoo designs. This illustration features a koi - a symbol of love and a recurring element in traditional Japanese tattoos.
Horiyoshi III Horiyoshi III continues the irezumi tradition of full-body tattoo designsThis tattoo is a good example of Japanese tattoo design in the irezumi tradition: a full-body tattoo, covering arms, back, upper legs and chest.
Horiyoshi III, an artist specialized in this approach, is so famous that there's even a museum dedicated to his art in Yokohama. Although not entirely traditional in his approach - he works with electric needles - Horiyoshi III tries to stick to traditional classical motifs such as koi, dragons and peonies.
Gakkin Gakkin's work mashes up traditional styles with manga, graffiti and graphic designGakkin, who works at Harizanmai tattoo studio in Kyoto, takes a new approach to traditional Japanese themes, strongly influenced by manga, graffiti and graphic design. But although his tattoos are defiantly 21st-century, Gakkins still follows many of the traditional rules of Japanese tattoo design, such as: "Never put momiji [message dolls] and sakura [cherry blossom] in the same drawing", and "Tigers should always go with bamboo".
While the background of this design is reminiscent of traditional Japanese prints, the colourful maple and the steaks of bright red on the koi makes it stand out as strikingly modern.
Food art: jaw-dropping examples of culinary craft Brain-scrambling examples of trompe l'oeil Beautiful examples of spirit bottle labels Have you seen a Japanese tattoo design that made you go 'wow'?

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