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Japan Loves & Hates Tattoos

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The Japan Times has a background piece on the Japanese-American National Museum’s “Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World,” opening this weekend: “Such prestigious treatment of irezumi [Japanese tattooing] by JANM—and other international galleries over the past few years—stands in stark contrast to how tattooing is perceived at home in Japan, where many people regard it as synonymous with gangsterism and where those with even small tattoos can be denied entry to swimming pools and public baths. Despite tattooing having fallen out of fashion among many yakuza in recent decades, this stigma against ink in Japan is stronger today than ever; in January, for example, a school clerk in Osaka was docked one month’s pay for having tattoos on her arm and ankle.”  (Pictured, a Kip Fulbeck photo of a Horikiku tattoo.)

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  1. by Sepp Seligmann

    Inscription on a Greek tombstone of 480 BC (Getty Villa):
    “I, Pollis son of Asopichos, have not died a coward, with the wounds of the tattooers”
    The tattooers are believed to refer to the Thracians who fought on the side of the Persians. So they were the enemy.

  2. Even my sons know you never have tattoos that can show, nothing a Tshirt cant hide. One a navy lieutenant, most officers have em but you would never know. my youngest luckily never got anything that would show while he was with the dark side, and now shakes his head at old friends whoa re all tatted up, just showed me an Irish friend with tatts on his fingers. Forever to be counter culture, and never a real job. You are making a statement if you do, and it is received.
    Yakuza had like this girl, open chest and never seen when wearing a robe.

  3. Most cultures have tattoos, the Polynesians the most complicated and so navy guys love em. Only Abrahamic religions ban them.

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