Not a Book Review: World of Japanese Tattooing

I returned from a couple weeks of work travel to a very lovely surprise!  My copy of “The World of Japanese Tattooing” by Iizawa Tadasu was waiting at the office!  It took me a few months to get a copy of this book.  I suspect it would have been much easier if I was able to search for it in Japanese, but the only online option I could find was Donlon Books in London.  It cost more than I would have liked after the conversion to dollars and shipping/insurance, but I have it now and that makes me quite happy!  The book is a treasure trove of classic Japanese style.

Published by Haga Shoten in 1973, the book is composed of a large number of Japanese tattoos by such masters as Horiyoshi II, Horigoro III, Horikin and more.  It also includes an array of ukiyo-e prints and Japanese text that is (sadly) totally lost on me.  There is a brief introduction in English that gives some very interesting insight into how Japanese tattoo and its history was viewed during the time of publication.  It approaches the comparison between Japanese and Western tattoos with a pretty heavy bias, but it is a bias that no doubt existed in the late 1800s/early 1900s when cross cultural exchange of tattoo was beginning to ramp up.  Having gotten the book so recently, I haven’t had time to look through all of it with very much attention to detail, but I am very excited to do so.

All in all, that special mix of consumerism and the desire to collect has made it worth the price of admission.  I am quite proud to have added this book to my collection.  Below are a couple pictures I took:

One Comment

  1. Hi Gaijink,
    My name is Ikkoku, I work for the DoNoEko workshop specialized in Edo Irezumi and based in France.
    We study for some years ago the history of Irezumi and we are looking for this book with a strong interest. I really would like to offer it to the main Horishi of our workshop for his birthday. But impossible to find it on the web, or at the impressive price of 800,00 S.
    I would like to know if you would accept that I pay you a copy of it. That would help us to give a new focus in or study of different patterns between Edo and Meiji styles.
    But I will easily understand that this didn’t offer any interest to you.
    I thank you a lot for reading these words and please apologize my poor English.
    You have he a very interesting website.
    Best regards from France.




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