Jan201029
Guest Blog: The Yakuza Boss
11:12 AM
Here's the third installment of a series of guest blogs by John Mack, an American who has been getting tattooed by Horiyoshi III for nine years. You can read Part I here and Part II here.

By John Mack

4560164655806_1L.jpgIn about 2004, Horiyoshi III was working on my back at the Isecho studio when in comes this Yakuza boss and his, um, assistant. It was apparent from his attitude, speech, and armed escort that he was a really big cheese.

I have mixed feelings about the relationship between the Yakuza and tattoos. I endure discrimination in Japan because of the association.

On the other hand, I owe a debt to the Yakuza for keeping traditional Japanese tattooing alive during that dark century before the current tattoo renaissance.

Anyway, the boss came to discuss a tattoo design with Horiyoshi. After he finished with that business, he turned his attention to me.

"That's a weird looking dragon," he commented.  I suppose he was referring to the acid trip proportions of my dragon.

The boss and his assistant leaned over me to further scrutinize my back. This was alarming, as I would rather not confront underworld figures while lying naked and prone on the floor.  Chuck Norris would never approve.

The boss quizzed Horiyoshi about other tattoos I might have on the front of me. Always eager to meet unusual people, I engaged them in a bit of chit-chat, but the boss was more interested in talking than listening.

After a while, they left. I had survived my encounter with the Yakuza. The only pain endured was that of the tattoo.

__
Horiyoshi's practice is now limited to finishing existing clients' tattoos.  As I have repeatedly witnessed, all new clients are politely referred elsewhere
--

For more on tattoos and Japan's underworld, see this National Geographic video:


12 Comments

Looking forward to your next post! :) This one sounds as 'sensationalised ad the national geographic videos ;)



cooooool!!! I love Yakuza mythology and have been enamoured with Japanese tradition and art since I was 10 years old after my pops took me to see some kabuki theatre and enrolled me in a karate dojo. Stories of the Yakuza, and samurai alike, are so mysterious, the characters always BAD ASS. Their legends, and images of Horiyoshi III's work were the principal inspirations for my Japanese-style tattoos. Can't wait for the next post!

P.S. What movie is that graphic from?



Thanks Marisa for adding the informative video. I believe that the first artist briefly shown in the video is Horitoshi, whom I mentioned in my first post.

The video captures the typical, even sensationalized fear that many Japanese feel toward tattooing via its association with the Yakuza. However, attitudes are changing. I'll take up that topic in a future post.

dub,
The graphic is the DVD jacket for 広島やくざ戦争 (Hiroshima Yakuza War). I chose it for the graphic alone; all I know about the movie is what is written on the jacket.



"This was alarming, as I would rather not confront underworld figures while lying naked and prone and on the floor. Chuck Norris would never approve."

This line is destined to become a classic. Certain things can only happen in a tattoo shop.



"This was alarming, as I would rather not confront underworld figures while lying naked and prone and on the floor. Chuck Norris would never approve."

This line is destined to become a classic. Certain things can only happen in a tattoo shop.



My only excuse is that I'm not Chuck Norris.



http://clientsofhoriyoshi.blogspot.com/



Hehe, I was just coming here to post the same blog that Johan posted. It also looks great!



The clientsofhoriyoshi blog is interesting and authentic.

I sure would like to figure out how to contact MM, the blog's author.



Yes, the blog is really interesting..that's why i post it here. Maybe you can contact the author by email John or may be just put comments on the posts.

Anyway, can't wait for part.4



How to contact the Yakuza directly?



Hello, I found your blog in a new directory of blogs. I dont know how your blog came up, must have been a typo, Your blog looks good. Have a nice day.





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