Reformed Japanese Gangster Inspires Change Through Tattoos
An ex-gangster is looking to end the discrimination in his native country by giving residents full-body tattoos.
Horiyoshi III, a former member of the yakuza crime organization in Japan, was angered at the hostility that tattooed people faced in the country. The gang is known for their familiar tattoos and because of that tainted reputation, those who have tattoos that aren’t associated with the yakuza are often faced with prejudice.
“Tattoos have a bad image everywhere,” Horiyoshi said, “But particularly in Japan they are associated with violence and yakuza, even if that is a simplistic view.”
He decided to give people “suit” tattoos that reflected the beauty of Japan, like its landscapes and its rich mythical history. Horiyoshi uses a metal version of a bamboo stick needle when applying his tattoos. Using the full-body as a canvas, the detail in his work is seen in a pristine state.
Because of the stigma often placed on them, those who have tattoos that aren’t associated with a life of crime find themselves as members of “tattoo clubs”. They will meet up with others to talk about their designs and to find a common bond that they wouldn’t find anywhere else.
“Usually, a group that is tattooed by the same master kind of forms a little club by themselves,” said Alexander Reinke, who is an apprentice to Horiyoshi, “Like here today where everybody who is meeting has been tattooed by Mr. Horiyoshi and is just having a good time.”
Together with his customers, Horiyoshi is breaking barriers with his tattoos.
Source: The Daily Mail