Book is food, food for soul

Donald Richie might not be a usual name to be heard in the so called “tattoo circles” or experts in the “industry”. If someone is aware about his name, it would be thanks to Ed Hardy’s books and articles.
Mr.Richie is mentioned and truly he deserves the credit. He wrote a very interesting book back in 1980 called simply “The Japanese Tattoo” and I too had the pleasure of reading this book and still have my treasured copy all these years.

If you look at the reader’s review, they say that is not the book for the one’s looking for tattoo photos.
Yes indeed. The book do have some photos illustrating, but mainly is about the text. In my humble opinion, very much interesting than the typical tattoo photo books easily found now days. And I don’t even mean about Japanese tattoos.

From the perspective of being written by a person that did not went through the experience of getting tattooed (as far as I’m concerned), it is a rich documentation of the tattoo culture in Japan. By no means it looks dated or old, information wise.
Many of the peculiarities, relationship between tattooist and customers, the view of society towards tattooing and other well observed details do still apply in the modern Japanese “tattoo mindset” so to speak.

Once again, I am a bit concerned when “critics” and “connoisseur” writes about any Tattoo topic without experiencing the process itself. The difference between this book (or author) with the other ones that did not got the actual tattoos; is the amount of knowledge Mr. Richie had about the Japanese culture. And foremost important, the “mindset” of the Japanese. And in this case I don’t even mean the tattoo one.

It is a wider and broader view of someone that lived all these years in Japan, and without “playing” to be Japanese; but staying on his very character as a foreigner observer of a complex society with many faces and thus intricate and many times obnoxious viewpoints from a westerners perspective.

One’s only can bear the culture, being it folk or classic; when immersing on it. Meaning to not just live, but breath and expelling it. Mr. Richie’s book is a true and I would say sincere look, to this sub genre of Japanese culture. I can imagine it was a big commitment to write such a book, from someone like him; prominent for his film critics and books about Japanese cinema.

Specially on a time when tattooing was not a popular topic as it is today, and as a non-Japanese to gain the access and trust to enter the small and closed tattoo world of that era.

May his soul rest in peace, and thank you for this marvelous book you wrote.


その中で1980年に“The Japanese Tattoo”という本をお書きなっている。






Published by Carlos aus Tokyo

Esoteric International player, attitude holder, natural born rebellious, tattooer of the masses. Owner of hännyahead tattoo

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