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:

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Ukiyo-e in Rome

I haven’t had any appointments lately since Horizakura has been traveling.  However, I did have the opportunity to go to Rome for work last week.  During that trip, I happened upon a very non-Italian art exhibit.  While I doubtlessly should have been trying to get into museums to see the works of Bernini, I saw a subway advertisement that informed me of a Hiroshige exhibit nearby.  Despite the fact that the collection is typically housed in Boston (a mere 4 hours from my home), I wasn’t sure when I would next have the opportunity to see it.  It’s a great exhibit with an extensive collection of his works.  They allow photographs, so I thought I would share a few of Hiroshige’s prints that most directly relate to Japanese tattoo in their subject matter.  It’s well known that Japanese tattoo has its roots in Ukiyo-e prints, but seeing some of that influence first hand was a treat.  I have also included a humorous print that depicts a battle between Sake and Rice as well as a poem that specifically relates to the content of my tattoo.  Check it out!