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the Japanese art form of full body decorative tattoo,

which developed during the Edo Period (1600 – 1868)-

is practiced by renown master tattoo artist

Horiyoshi III.


His artistry is internationally celebrated

and clients come from across the globe to be inked

by the legendary master.

Horiyoshi III has exhibited his drawings / paintings

in galleries around the world.

He has also donated several of his artwork to

Buddhist temples throughout Japan.


(image from japansubculture.com):

Yokohama tattoo musuem, horiyoshi discussing his work on lady's back japansubculture.com

Horiyoshi III, discussing his work on body canvas

The fundamental of the iconography employed by Horiyoshi III

is of traditional Japanese imagery-

executed with an elegant, detailed hand.

Yet, Irezumi is not readily embraced

by the greater portion of Japanese society

for it is has been historically associated as a mark of the “Yakuza”-

the Japanese crime gangs / families.

Many with Irezumi tattoos are prohibited from

entering certain business venues

(restaurants, offices, sports centres)-

and are even denied job / career opportunities as a result of a general

conception of tattoos as symbol of gang / criminal affiliation.

Master Horiyoshi III, himself once part of Yakuza

has undertaken to change these long-established negative beliefs.

His intention is to elevate fully Irezumi as an art form,

worthy of appreciation of its merit as such.

To this end, in 2000 he founded

The Yokohama Tattoo Museum (Yokohama, Japan).


(image from pinterest):

yokohama tattoo museum, pinterest

The collection is composed of pieces from Horiyoshi III’s

personal acquisitions and own drawings / paintings

as well as items of traditional Japanese

tattoo accoutrements (instruments of the art)

and prints from various historical periods.

All pieces displayed serve to chronicle the history of Japanese tattoo art.

In addition, there are works by other noted

internationally recognised tattoo artists

including Ed Hardy, among others.


(image from japantimes.com):

yokohama tattoo museum, illustraion of foreigner tattooeed in Nagasaki 1882,

Illustration of a foreigner getting tattooed in Nagasaki, Japan (1882)

on display at Yokohama Tattoo Museum

His is a seemingly daunting task,

for although tattoo artistry is greatly admired in the West,

officially the Japanese government remains suspicious

of this sub-cultural movement.

However, Horiyoshi III appears determined to bring acceptance of

Irezumi into the mainstream.

His eponymous fashion label, Horiyoshi III

is definitely a solid step in that direction.