Histori of traditional Japanese tattoo designs - Yakuza tattoo
Irezumi, Horimono or Tattoo?
So what do we call a tattoo? Of course here in the west it is a very simple matter as we only have one word for tattoos and it is universally understood what is meant. However, in Japan the word tattoo can be written in a vareity of ways. Two of the most common ways are Irezumi and Horimono. Irezumi has become the most accepted word to designate the art form of tattoos. Irezumi litterall y means "insert ink" So while here in the west you will most often ehre the word"tattoo" when referring to Japanese tattooing you might come across the word "Irezumi".
Early Japanese Tattoo History
It is not 100% clear when tattoo first became part of the Japanese culture. However, many scholars have noted a very distinct "cord" like marking on the face of early men dating back to 10,000 BC. This is still being debated if it was inf act a tattoo most scholars today believe this was the first apperance of tattooing in Japan and many other countries.
Early Japanese Tattoos: The Yayoi Period
Sometime between 300BC and 300 AD the neighboring Chinese started entering into Japan. Many of these early explorers noted the exsistence of tattoos ont he Japanese. The Chinese thought that these markings or tattoos were a combination of status or class symbols and also had some spiritual significance.