Tattoo in Japan


Fans of Japanese culture and of tattoo art will find much to enjoy in this large format photobook exploring the diversity of Japan's tattoo scene.

Tattoo in Japan is divided into four chapters dedicated to different geographic regions: Tokyo, Chubu, Kyoto, and Osaka. Each area is known for a distinct style of ink art. They are presented here in rich color images accompanied by essays on the history of tattoo art in this country, and its contemporary expression.

The book profiles traditional tebori artists (and the rituals of respect that surround them), along with street shop inkers (for whom Western musical influences like punk and rockabilly reign).

After the jump, an exclusive Boing Boing image gallery of favorite photos from the book.


In Japan, the choice to adorn your body with ink is not without stigma: for instance, you're not allowed to enter a public bath (onsen) in Japan if you have tattoos. Boing Boing's resident Japan expert Lisa Katayama blogged earlier about a book on a yakuza boss' daughter and her tattoos over at Tokyomango. For the woman whose life was the subject of that book, tattoos were a way to reconcile her difficult childhood experiences with a self-determined identity. That same melding of history, culture, and individual spirit also manifests throughout Tattoo in Japan.


The volume contains some 250 photographs, on more than 300 pages, and weighs nearly seven pounds. It ends with notes on how and where one might go about getting a really nice tat in Japan, and by the time you reach the end, you'll be tempted. My coveted review copy will be occupying prime real estate on the living room table, right next to a related title also published by Edition ReussBlack Tattoo Art: Modern Expressions of the Tribal.

Tattoo in Japan: Amazon Link | Publisher website (Thanks, Marisa, images courtesy Edition Reuss)

Update: Colin from Last Gasp says,

We are the US distributor of Tattoo in Japan. For whatever reason, Amazon doesn't have the book listed as "available" from them although we regularly ship them this book. Unfortunately we're closed for inventory for the next few days. We can ship this book beginning Jan 4. If you like, you can order directly from Last Gasp online here, or by phone: 1-800-848-4277 M-F, 9am-5pm PST. Or special order through your local independent retailer. The book is $165.
We'll give you free ground shipping (Continental US) if you mention you heard about it from BoingBoing.