"Japanese Tattoo Series" Home

Spring 2008

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In this series, by using Native American traditional beading techniques, I express a remarkable Japanese tradition, Japanese Tattoo. It is said that the tradition began more than a thousand years ago. Originally tattoo is a symbol of bravery and manhood and is used among artisans, carpenters, firefighters, and gangs. Now a day, mostly those who rule local communities, gangs and firefighters, have tattoos. They have tattoo as their symbols of their spiritualities. Usually, they do not show of their tattoo except special occasions such as festivals because tattoo is for their own spiritualities.


Still today when people became westernized, they strongly keep cultural tradition in the way of traditional tattooing. In Japanese society, this piece would be controversial because it mainly represents gang society. However, I chose this concept out of respect for a group of people who keep and appreciate our cultural tradition today.

Japanese traditional tattoo is designed with Kimono in order to hide the tattoo by Kimono. The Kimono in “Matsuri-The Festival”, called Happi, is a costume for Japanese Festivals, Matsuri. A Festival is one of rare occasions to show off their beautiful tattoos. Though tattoos, they show their spiritualities only in their spiritual evens.


In “Matsuri – The Festival: Japanese Tattoo Costume”, I express a sacred pair of Chinese lions in Japanese culture. There is an opening mouth sounding “oh”, on the left side of the chest, which represents the beginning of the Universe. On the right side, a lion closing a mouth and sounding “m” represents the end of the Universe. The sounds of the pair of the lions represent a Buddhist term, “Ohm”, the whole Universe.
Also, there are red and orange carps rising up in a waterfall. I depict a scene of a Japanese myth; there are only a few carps that can swim up a waterfall against a flow and become dragons, gods of water.