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Tag Archives: Luke Stewart

Japan’s Complex Relationship with Tattoo


Japan’s Complex Relationship with Tattoo When visiting Japanese Tattoo: Perseverance, Art, and Tradition, on view at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) in Richmond, Virginia until September 27, you’re struck by the pure artistry. Photo after photo of intricate, mesmerizing designs, breathtaking colors, and symbolic imagery, one interwoven into the other, which would be difficult to render on canvas, much less flesh. There’s a passion and a reverence in these galleries that is almost palpable.  That’s why it’s almost inconceivable that Japan, which has been so instrumental in elevating tattooing to an art form, has also pushed this art form into the shadows, even condemned it for centuries. To understand the seemingly conflicted relationship that Japan has with tattooing, you must carefully unearth the deep roots of Japan’s tattoo culture, which date back to the Jomon Period (roughly 10,500 to 300 BC). That’s when the first evidence of tattooing in Japan was recovered from tombs, in the form of clay figurines with faces painted or engraved to represent tattoos. Fast forward many years later to the Edo Period (1615-1868) and Japanese authorities began using tattoos to mark criminals. According to “Japanese Tattoos: From Yakuza to Artisans, Aesthetes” in the Wall Street Journal, “…convicts were branded with penal markings such as bands on the arms, or the kanji character for ‘dog’ on the forehead.” While this criminal stigma would prove difficult to shake for many centuries, tattooing enjoyed a significant reprieve from the negative connotation at the end of the ... Read More »

Horitaka Talks About the Upcoming Bay Area Tattoo Convention


By Takahiro “Horitaka” Kitamura It’s already August, and the tattoo convention I throw with Roman Enriquez (Strong Tattoo/45s Forever) is coming up soon! This year the convention in scheduled for October 21-23 and we are returning to the SFO Hyatt Regency. Even with last year’s power outage on Sunday, the hotel is perfect for us and we look forward to a great weekend. Here are some highlights of this year’s show… Read More »

Shop Profile: Seventh Son Tattoo Teaser (VIDEO)


[Shop info on expanded page] Read More »

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