Bushido: Legacies of the Japanese Tattoo

As usual, it took months for me to finish this book, weeks to write this review…but here it goes.

Bushido: Legacies of the Japanese Tattoo, is a well conducted and complete voyage to the world of Japanese tattoing traditions.
It starts with the idea of linking the connecting dots between the samurai and tattoo cultures, which it does, but more than that the book establishes connections between ancestral Japanese art and it’s iconic value in the world of tattoo. The bridges between ancient forms of art and the way they heavily influenced tattooing styles and crafts are well established, rooted in good bibliographic references, with illustrations and photos that accompany the sometimes dense but always interesting texts.

Concerning the Bushido code and its applications in the tattoo culture, the authors elaborate parallels between the tattooer/client, tattoo master/apprentice relationships and the Shogun feudal relations, always contextualized in the Japanese culture of course, and although it may seem a bit exaggerated, it’s well documented with first person reports and descriptions on the life of some of the great Japan tattoo masters. Reading Bushido really makes one understand that, more than anything, the Japanese respect tattooing in a spiritual way and take it very seriously as an art form and a craft.

The book finishes analyzing the actual state of things in Japan in what concerns tattooing, explaining the differences between tattooers that strictly follow tradition and others that have left some cultural changes take place. A comparison is made between American and Japanese tattoo cultures, the way they have connected and mutually influenced each other in the past and still do in the present, particularly mentioning that the American methods and crafts are slowly becoming more present in Japan, fact which will have a serious outcome in the future of Japanese tattoo traditions.

Bushido: Legacies of the Japanese Tattoo is quantic ages ahead of anything I had ever read about tattooing in terms of texts and explanations on the culture itself, and this is probably my third or forth book on the matter of tattoo in general. If you seek knowledge ’bout Japanese tattooing roots and traditions, this is the book for you. Oh, and by knowledge I mean texts, not just pretty pictures of great tattoo works.



3 Responses to “Bushido: Legacies of the Japanese Tattoo”

  1. 1 vanessa 9 December, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    conheço o livro mas ainda nao tive a oportunidade de ler.normalmente os livros que falam sobre a cultura japonesa da tatuagem valem sempre a pena serem lidos.
    nao mencionaste a facto de estar ligada á Yakuza ou no livro nao falam sobre isso?*

  2. 2 WALKtheWALK 9 December, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    achei útil, dada a pertinência da pergunta, fazer um copy da resposta que dei à vanessa no blog dela. aqui vai, para os menos atentos:

    “quanto ao livro, a menção que faz à ligação entre as tatts e os yakuza é mais para explicar o estigma social que ainda persiste na sociedade japonesa em relação à tatuagem…porque no fundo a cena do corpo tatuado daquela forma não surgiu com os gangs, eles é quiseram adoptar a associação de ideias samurai/guerreiro/tatuagem que é explorada no livro.”

  3. 3 tattoo Apprenticeship contract 31 May, 2013 at 1:36 am

    A good beginning is to google for a term like (in case you live in Toronto, for example) “tattoo artist(s) Toronto” or
    “tattoo studio Toronto”. The Company has launched the best blend ink which
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