W earing tattoo is a form of fashion, a legacy of ancient art and also part of a tradition. Since Victorian era till today, the tattoo culture has got a significant change. In the Victorian era, only prisoners used to get inked as punishment and then adopted by people too. Japanese culture also has the similar story. The tattoos were not meant for the ordinary people and getting inked was not even considered legal. In Japan, only Japanese Mafia used to wear tattoos on their entire body and had to hide it under their clothes as flaunting body art was like assaulting the viewers. It was all about human mentality but when it comes to the history of art, tattoo art was the most appreciable thing. Today, almost every country has embraced the tattoo art as the form of fashion, but Japan has its different popular tattoo tradition that has preserved for centuries. Horiyoshi III is a great artist who is working to survive the Japanese tattoo culture by training people and collecting the legacy of historical art in the museum. He has devoted his entire life to keep the Japanese tattoo culture alive and trained people who will work for the same even after him.
Wearing tattoo was not just a fashion, but it also evolved as an art in many Western cultures. Tattoo arts are featured in exhibitions at some of the world's most famous museums and galleries.
In Japan, tattoos are perceived as a sign of intimidation or a connection to the underworld. The fact was once revealed that the Mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, battled to ban tattoos from his city in 2012.
Traditional Japanese tattoos are totally different from other fashionable tattoos. It is usually done in the full body suit, cut off at the neck, wrists and ankles to hide the body art under clothes. The tattoos inked in the whole body have the symbolic meaning. At the era from 17th to 19th century, wearing tattoos on the body was a punishment given to prisoners. After that, Japanese adopted tattoos in their tradition of arts.
This is the picture of members of the Takahashi-gumi Japanese mafia who are celebrating theTokyo's Sanja Festival.
In Japan, if anyone is found showing tattoo art of his body, is considered assaulting his viewers. You can't show your body tattoos in the public place as people would feel threatened and disrespected. This is because only Japanese mafia wear traditional Japanese tattoos exclusively.
A tattoo artist Horiyoshi III spent all his life working for the Japanese tradition. Tattoo art in Japan is the part of the super history art. He disappointingly said that today, Japanese culture is broken, people want tattoos to look dangerous and cool. Tattoo art is going utterly meaningless. He wants to keep Japanese history alive and so he kept continue with the tattoo art.
The tattoo master creates beautiful art with the colorful ink that covers his client's whole body. Horiyoshi III says that tattoo gives him strength. People who truly want the tradition to stay alive pass through an enormous pain to draw tattoos on their entire body.
Horiyoshi III started drawing tattoos at quite a young age. When he was of 15-years-old, his group of friends used to tattoo each other. When he was 21, he met the masters of tattoo art, Horiyoshi I and Horiyoshi II at a convention. They introduced him with the Japanese tattoo tradition and trained him for that. He embraced and continued their legacy with their name. Today, only a few irezumi(tattoo) masters are left in Japan.
He has been carrying the culture of tattoo art since last 40 years. He is now 69-years-old and he owns a pocket-sized studio in which he kept the precious treasures of art. Photographers visit his studio and know about the tattoo tradition of Japan.
Horiyoshi III found a Yokohama Tattoo Museum in 2000. The place contains artifacts, books and photographs that expound the history of tattoo culture of around the world.
Horiyoshi III leaves the remarkable footprints in the world. His devotion of keeping the tradition alive is respectable.
Reinke is the another artist devoted himself for the survival of Japanese tradition. He met Horiyoshi III at the Bologna tattoo Convention and learnt this historical art of tattoo for 16 years. Horiyoshi said that when we train, we learn how to separate the ego from creativity. That attitude helps to keep the legacy alive for longer.
Horiyoshi III, who spent his entire life in preserving the Japanese culture has suffered from liver failure but still he remains extremely active. he continues to tattoo and he is also working on a documentary about Japanese tattoo tradition. He said that tattoo is a way of preserving real Japanese culture.