japanese tattoos

Interesting facts about Japanese Tattoos

Did you know that in some Japanese bath houses, anyone with a tattoo is refused entry? Seems a bit harsh, even for a conservative country like Japan, but the reason goes back hundreds of years…

Irezumi is the name given to tattooing in Japan, and refers to many different forms of traditional Japanese tattoos, or modern forms inspired or derived from them. Just to confuse things, the word can be written AND spoken in several different ways, and also translate into several different words, although the most common is literally “insert ink”.

Japanese tattoos date back thousands of years, but their meaning and role in society fluctuates with different time periods. It was around the Kofun period (300-600 AD) that tattoos began to take on negative associations. Criminals were tattooed as a form of punishment, so others would know they had committed a crime.

Tattoo fads came and went over the next thousand years, but the stigma lingered, and at the beginning of the Meiji period, tattoos were outlawed altogether. Of course, when you outlaw anything, you only drive it underground, so tattoos were now officially the cool thing to have, and as Japan opened up to the West, many came to seek the skills of traditional Japanese Tattoo Artists.

The connotations with criminality still persisted, with many associating tattoos with the Yakuza, Japan’s infamous mafia. This gave tattoos in Japan a stigma which is still seen today in the bath houses and other Japanese businesses. Japanese tattoos were legalised again after the war, but even today, a tattoo studio is hard to find. It is estimated there are around 300 tattoo artists in Japan; an incredibly small percentage considering its 127 million population.

If you’re interested in Japanese tattoos, then come see Tom at Sunset Studios. He's spent years studying Japanese tattoos and is always up for a chat about any design ideas you have.

A brief history of Japanese tattoos

Did you know that in some Japanese bath houses, anyone with a tattoo is refused entry? Seems a bit harsh, even for a conservative country like Japan, but the reason goes back hundreds of years…

Irezumi is the name given to tattooing in Japan, and refers to many different forms of traditional Japanese tattoos, or modern forms inspired or derived from these. Just to confuse things, the word can be written AND spoken in several different ways, and also translate into several different words, although the most common is literally “insert ink”.

Japanese tattoos date back thousands of years, but their meaning and role in society fluctuates with different time periods. It was around the Kofun period (300-600 AD) that tattoos began to take on negative associations. Criminals were tattooed as a form of punishment, so others would know they had committed a crime.

Tattoo fads came and went over the next thousand years, but the stigma lingered, and at the beginning of the Meiji period, tattoos were outlawed altogether. Of course, when you outlaw anything, you only drive it underground, so tattoos were now officially the cool thing to have, and as Japan opened up to the West, many came to seek the skills of traditional Japanese Tattoo Artists.

The connotations with criminality still persisted, with many associating tattoos with the Yakuza, Japan’s infamous mafia. This gave tattoos in Japan a stigma which is still seen today in the bath houses and other Japanese businesses. Japanese tattoos were legalised again after the war, but even today, a tattoo studio is hard to find. It is estimated there are around 300 tattoo artists in Japan; an incredibly small percentage considering its 127 million population.

If you’re interested in Japanese tattoos, then come see Tom at Sunset Studios. He's spent years studying Japanese tattoos and is always up for a chat about any design ideas you have

Introducing the tattoo artists here at Sunset

At Sunset tattoo studio, we have put together a team of dedicated, varied and talented tattoo artists. From home-grown talent to artists from the other side of the world, everyone here has their own style and speciality, making it easy for you to find the exact tattoo you’re looking for.

Let us introduce Sunset’s tattoo artists

Tom McMillan

Tom opened Sunset Tattoo in 2014 after working around the world as well as in some of New Zealand's best tattoo studios. He has been tattooing for over a decade and specialises in his own unique take on western traditional and Japanese tattoo styles. Tom switches easily between large-scale, full body tattoos to palm size one-shot tattoos, and is always on the lookout for new, original design challenges. If you’re looking for a Japanese style tattoo, give Tom a call.

 

Tristan Marler

Tristan is of Te Rarawa descent, from the Hokianga in the far north. He is trained in Whakairo Rakau (traditional wood carving). He has been blending his knowledge of carving and Maori art over to the art of Tattooing. Tristan is now tattooing full time, and specializes in Ta Moko, Blackwork, pattern work, geometric and dot-work tattoo styles. If you’re interested in a Maori tattoo, Tristan is the man to call.

 

Fabian Bidart

Growing up in Santiago, Chile, Fabian was initially drawn to tattoo artistry through the local music scene, and soon started working from a friend’s shop when he was still just a teenager. From working with and learning from other tattoo artists in Spain, Fabian finally settled in New Zealand in 2007 where he continues to refine his art. If you’re searching for classic traditional tattooing, Fabian is your man!

 

Jacob Cross

Jacob Cross does a regular guest spot at Sunset Tattoo. He is always available for consultations. He is fast becoming one of New Zealand's best known Traditional tattoo artists. His no-nonsense, bold, bright, traditional style has its roots firmly in American and European tattoo history.

Japanese Tattoos

Did you know that in some Japanese bath houses, anyone with a tattoo is refused entry? Seems a bit harsh, even for a conservative country like Japan, but the reason goes back hundreds of years…

Irezumi is the name given to tattooing in Japan, and refers to many different forms of traditional Japanese tattoos, or modern forms inspired or derived from these. Just to confuse things, the word can be written AND spoken in several different ways, and also translate into several different words, although the most common is literally “insert ink”.

Japanese tattoos date back thousands of years, but their meaning and role in society fluctuates with different time periods. It was around the Kofun period (300-600 AD) that tattoos began to take on negative associations. Criminals were tattooed as a form of punishment, so others would know they had committed a crime.

Tattoo fads came and went over the next thousand years, but the stigma lingered, and at the beginning of the Meiji period, tattoos were outlawed altogether. Of course, when you outlaw anything, you only drive it underground, so tattoos were now officially the cool thing to have, and as Japan opened up to the West, many came to seek the skills of traditional Japanese Tattoo Artists.

The connotations with criminality still persisted, with many associating tattoos with the Yakuza, Japan’s infamous mafia. This gave tattoos in Japan a stigma which is still seen today in the bath houses and other Japanese businesses. Japanese tattoos were legalised again after the war, but even today, a tattoo studio is hard to find. It is estimated there are around 300 tattoo artists in Japan; an incredibly small percentage considering its 127 million population.

If you’re interested in Japanese tattoos, then come see Tom at Sunset Studios. He's spent years studying Japanese tattoos and is always up for a chat about any design ideas you have.