Tattooing in Japan is thought to extend back to at least 10,000 BC and has changed in meaning several times through the ages. Demonized by centuries of prohibitions and rarely discussed today in civilized circles, the citizens of today trace the roots of this negative attitude to the 17th century, when criminals were tattooed as a form of punishment.
In Japan, Tattooing is the most misunderstood form of art. Official prohibitions against tattooing remained until 1948 when they were lifted by U.S. occupation forces. Once again, Japanese tattooists were allowed to work without fear of prosecution and, in the following decades, a number of exchanges developed between Japanese tattooists and their U.S. counterparts.
These exchanges included those of Hawaii-based Sailor Jerry (who traded hard-to-obtain U.S. ink for Japanese tattoo designs) and Don Ed Hardy, the artist often credited for popularizing tattoos in the United States, where today approximately one-fifth of the population is inked.
As of yet, Japanese people’s tattoos remain largely out of sight. However, a day may come soon when a great wave of ink washes aside outdated discrimination and people can embrace again one of their oldest — and most persistent — forms of art.
2022 Calendar Dates:
- February 21st, 2022 – February 25th, 2022
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