the Japanese art form of full body decorative tattoo,
which developed during the Edo Period (1600 – 1868)-
is practiced by renown master tattoo artist
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):
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):
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):
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.