A full body suit can take thirty years to finish
owes much to the man many consider
to be the greatest living master of the Japanese hand-tapped
III. While the Japanese haven't yet
emulated Americans in their rush to be tattooed (tattoos are still
largely considered the mark of the yakuza -- the Japanese
Mafia), the few Japanese masters that practice tattoo art
are in a class of their own. For that reason, Lockhart returned again
and again to the master for the body tattoo he wears with pride.
No one comes to Horiyoshi for superficial reasons.
For one thing, a full body suit can take thirty years to finish
and cost $50,000. Traditional myths are the stuff of the
Japanese tattoo suit. Horiyoshi's clients likely want to bond with
the culture and with the spirit of the design. "Horiyoshi is the
medium," says Lockhart. "Horiyoshi combines the design with
the tattooee to create the mythic power."
Our special access to what remains largely a secret
and hidden world in Japan, allows us to look over the master's
shoulder as he works on an actual yakuza. At 2:00 a.m. we'll follow
Lockhart as he explores the Ginza to find out what commercial
tattooing has become in Japan today.
here for more about Thomas's early meetings with Horiyoshi III
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