Many tattoo connoisseurs consider the Japanese tradition to be the finest in the world for its detail, complexity and compositional skill. Its style and subject matter are drawn from the visual treasure trove of Japanese popular culture, in particular the color woodblock prints of the early 19th century known as ukiyo-e.
This book tells the fascinating story of how ukiyo-e first inspired tattoo artists as the pictorial tradition of tattooing in Japan was just beginning. It explores the Japanese tattoo’s evolving meanings, from symbol of devotion to punishment and even to crime, and reveals the tales behind specific motifs. With lush, colorful images of flowers blooming on the arm of a thief, sea monsters coiling across the back of a hero and legendary warriors battling on the chests of actors, the tattoos in these prints can offer the same vivid inspiration today as they did 200 years ago.