Guest Blog: Horiyoshi III on Tattooing Women
02:34 PM
John Mack continues his weekly guest blog post on his experience getting tattooed by Horiyoshi III over the course of nine years. Check out his previous posts:  Part IPart II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII and Part IX.

horiyoshi iii female backpiece.jpgIn all my time at Horiyoshi III's studios, I have seen a female client just three times.

The studios have no private room.  My appointments were always in the afternoon, so initially I guessed that perhaps women's appointments were in the morning when somehow greater privacy was afforded them. 

As I've already told you, there was often a squad of male apprentices and tattoo enthusiasts present.  Undressing and getting tattooed in front of them would surely give pause to most women.  It certainly intimidated me at first.

I avoid talking about other clients, so I did not ask about it for many years, but in 2009, I finally inquired with Horiyoshi about his female clientele.

"John-san," he said in a slightly incredulous tone.  "Now, how often have you seen women in my studios?" 

I admitted that most of the women I had seen were journalists.  I asked why he had so few female clients.

"They just don't come here.  It's hard for them to undress; it's uncomfortable.  Personally, that's better for me.  Frankly, I would rather not tattoo women."

Horiyoshi's practice is now limited to finishing existing clients' tattoos, and we all keep him really busy.  As I have repeatedly witnessed, all new clients are politely referred elsewhere.


"They just don't come here. It's hard for them to undress; it's uncomfortable. Personally, that's better for me. Frankly, I would rather not tattoo women."
I think that is kind of bizarre. I wonder how pervasive that attitude is among other practitioners of horimono?

It never quite occurred to me that having to tattoo women would be the downside of a career in tattooing. I too found this surprising.

The market in Japan for smaller "one point" tattoos probably has a female/male ratio similar to other countries. However, I think that Japanese clients who seek large, traditional Japanese tattoos are mostly men, irrespective of the tattooists' preferences or facilities.

I feel compelled to mention that I have never witnessed any sign of disrespect for women--this seems to be nothing more than a professional preference.

i appreciate his honesty

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