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The way of the Ink by Valente, Pamela & Bagot, Pascal

Irezumi, the age-old traditional Japanese tattoo art continues to amaze and mesmerize people from all over the world. Journalist Pascal Bagot is filmed during one of his artistic journeys to Japan, filled with cherry blossom, dragons and Kois. He is privileged to have a traditional tattoo artist, a horishi, working on a tattoo covering his back. This film cleverly combines impressive images of the tattoo technique with interviews showing the changing opinion on tattoos in contemporary Japanese society.

Social Interest
In Japan, tattoos have often been associated with the Japanese organized crime, the yakuza. At the beginning of the Meiji period, the Japanese government outlawed tattoos. Even though tattooing was legalized in 1948 and tattoos are gaining in popularity among the younger generation, they still have not shaken off their taboo status. For example, people with tattoos are still shunned from public baths.

Artistic Relevance
The Japanese tattoo art Irezumi implies tattooing by using tebori, the traditional Japanese hand method developed in the late 18th century. This method involves imprinting designs under the human skin with special ink called nara ink. Irezumi is a time consuming technique; having a body suit done can take up to hundreds of hours. The artist or master, called a Horishi, usually has one or more apprentices working for him for a long period of time. The apprentices become a part of the horishis tattoo family.

Valente, Pamela & Bagot, Pascal
Copyright Holder
53 min.
Year of release
English, Japanese

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