Results tagged “Yakuza”
Onna yu ("Bathhouse Women") by Torii Kiyonaga (1752-1815) via Wikipedia.
Last week, a bunch of new outlets worldwide picked up the story that a bathhouse in Hokkaido, Japan refused entry to a Maori woman because of her Moko. As MaoriTelevsion.com notes, the woman, Erana Te Haeata Brewerton, was in Japan to attend an indigenous language conference, "staying with a group of Ainu people indigenous to Japan whose ancestors wore tattoos similar to the traditional chin tattoo."
The tattoo bans at bathhouses throughout Japan are nothing new and not really news to many in our community -- it's almost become a joke to pack a long-sleeved wetsuit when traveling to the country if you want to take a soak. The bans are based on the association of tattoos with the Yakuza crime syndicates, and designed to keep the bad guys out. Indeed, Yakuza are heavily tattooed (and often beautifully so). But so are a lot of people who aren't in the Japanese mafia.
The reason this incident is getting media traction is because Japan was just awarded the right to host the 2020 Olympics, which means a lot more tourists, including the tattooed. At the press conference for the Olympics announcement, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stated that "it is important to respect the cultures of foreign countries, considering we will host the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and expect many visitors ... to come to Japan."
Perhaps, we won't have to pack our wetsuits after all.
An interesting slideshow and videos on tattoos of the Yakuza, Japan's criminal underground, can be found on National Geographic's "Crime Lords of Tokyo" investigation. The short stories behind the tattoos discuss the transformation, pain and symbolism of the motifs; for example, this backpiece on the daughter of a Yakuza boss, shown above, is described as "Prostitute in Hell." The presentation also makes mention of Shoko Tendo's Yakuza Moon: Memoirs of a Gangster's Daughter, which is an excellent read.
Thanks, Niall, for the link!
Ok, this story is going to dwarf our tee and print giveaway, but hell, I'll share:
A 46-year-old mixed martial arts trainer from Liverpool, Australia ended up winning a full dragon backpiece (shown above left) modeled after that of a video game character (shown right) in the SEGA Yakuza franchise. SEGA Australia held the contest about a year ago to promote the new Yakuza 4 game, which drops today along with the tattoo unveiling.
The backpiece was tattooed by Josh Roelink, of Tatudharma Studios in Sydney, over six months in four-hour sessions with three-week intervals. See images of the tattoo process here.
Josh did not design the artwork for the game -- Horitomo of State of Grace did -- but Josh got his approval to re-create it. There's a great interview with Horitomo from a few years back in which he discusses the design work for SEGA but also his tattoo art and thoughts on Japanese tattoo culture. Worth a click.
For more on Horitomo, check this profile excerpt in Tattoo Artist Magazine. And for more on Josh, watch his interview with BMEtv.
For my fellow toy collectors, gadget geeks & nerdists, behold Mimobot's tattooed flash drive, "Yakuza" designed by Scott Lee. While the new Star Wars series has everyone's light sabers in a bunch, this Horimono homeboy remains my fave functional toy and has accompanied me to many a convention to help collect and store tattoo photos from artists.
A capacity of 4GB will cost about $35. You can also get 8GB for $55 & 16GB for $80.
For more wonderful and weird flash drives, check Hongkiat's (oldie but goodie) Top 50 list. [I also own the Humping Dog thanks to Brian Grosz.]
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
In 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: