Even today in Japanese culture, tattoos are considered a symbol of the criminal class. in some public bathhouses and swimming pools, anyone with a tattoo is refused entry.
Tattooing in Japan goes back thousands of years, and what they have symbolised has changed over the centuries. Criminals were tattoo during the Kofun period (300-600 AD) as a form of punishment, so others would know to keep them at arm’s length.
Tattoo fashions came and went over the next thousand years, but the stigma lingered, and at the beginning of the Meiji period, tattoos were outlawed altogether. The problem is, once you outlaw something, you only drive it underground, and as the West had a larger influence in the country, tattoos grew in popularity.
As the demand for the skills of traditional Japanese Tattoo Artists increased, the associations with criminality still lingered. The Yakuza, Japan’s infamous mafia, are notorious for their tattoos. This association gave tattoos in Japan a stigma which is still seen today in the bathhouses and swimming pools.
After the war, tattoos were eventually legalised again, but even today a tattoo studio in Japan is difficult to find. The country has a population of 127 million, but only around 300 tattoo artists!
Irezumi is the name given in Japan to tattooing and refers to the many various forms of traditional Japanese tattoos, or modern forms inspired or derived from these. Just to confuse things, the word can be written AND spoken in several different ways, and also translate into several different words, although the most common is literally “insert ink”.
If you’re interested in getting a Japanese style tattoo, then give Chapel Tattoo a call today. We have experienced and skilled artists who specialise in the Japanese tattoo style.