Do You Think Tatto Is Art?

Do you think tattoo is art? I know it is a very controversial topic for us. My Texan friend and I discussed it a couple of weeks ago. While he showed me some very artistic tattoos, he said that if he would have a tattoo, he wanted to have a Japanese tattoo. When I listened to his story, I imagined that he became a Japanese mafia, something called ” Yakuza “. ( I am very sorry, Matt, lol )

In my country many people have very strong negative feelings to tattoos. Having tattoos is not cool here. If people have tattoos, they cannot enter public bathes, summing pools, sports gyms, and they cannot show their skins on the beaches. Tattoo is taboo in Japan.
We don’t want to hung out with people who have tattoos, especially Japanese type tattoos. It means they are related to Yakuza ( Japanese mafia ). In the Edo era because of distinguishing normal citizens, criminals had a specific mark on their arms. They were so-called tattoos.

However, it is becoming more popular to have one point Western tattoo among young Japanese people. I guess, since Japanese society is very conservative, even if it is becoming a bit of popular, it is still difficult for us to accept it.

Since I was a child, I am used to the thought that tattoo is taboo, even if I look at very artistic tattoos, I cannot think that it is beautiful.

On the other hand, when I was eating curry with my Michigan friends, Gay and Bas in America, we also discussed tattoo. We enjoyed talking about the topic loudly, a man who has a lot of tattoos on his body joined our conversations. He told us that he had many cool tattoos in Japan. I was shocked! I didn’t know that we have such a business for people from over sea. He also said that in Western culture, Japanese tattoo is so unique. The designs are cool, and in addition the colors are brighter than Western tattoo. After lunch, Bas took Gay and me to a book store to show many tattoo magazines. I was also shocked because there are so many tattoo magazines  in America. It was a part of American culture. I still couldn’t tattoo was art.

My Texan friend also said the same things to me. Although I thought for Western people it is kind of ” the grasses always seems greener on the other side of the fence “, what do you think about that? I think if we cant find beauty in the art, we cant call the think as art. Art gives us inspiration, and we appreciate it, admire it and we are inspired by it. I think that is art. So, I cannot appreciate tattoo. What do you think about tattoo is art?


16 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. WC
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 12:28:34

    Absolutely. Any free expression of creativity is art. Movies, paintings, music, tattoos and video games are all art because they are expressions of creativity.

    Art doesn’t have to be beautiful to be art.

    Tattoos are definitely widely considered to be art in the US. That isn’t to say there is no stigma attached, though! Much like Japan, some people in the US look down on people who have tattoos. Especially if they go to extremes.


    • yumi
      Jul 30, 2011 @ 12:48:42

      Hi, William-san. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, for some reasons we can say that tattoos are art. However, I still dont want to think that tattos are art. Thanks for telling me about American cutlrue. Your comment was very interesting for me!


  2. Michael
    Jul 28, 2011 @ 13:17:54

    Tatoos may be an art form. But I do not care for them especially on women. The only ones I can say are ok are if you are a sailor like Popeye and have an anchor on your forearm haha. Eva does not like them either. All the weird body piercing I dislike also. Maybe just for some ear rings is ok by me… Those are just my personal feelings. My son has a tattoo on his chest … A scroll held by 2 hummingbirds written on the scroll are the names of the grandfathers and grandmothers and his parents hmmm….


    • yumi
      Jul 30, 2011 @ 12:52:21

      Hi, Michael. Thanks for the comment. I agree. I also dont like tattoos and weird body piercing. I think stunning is a part of Western culture, and having tattoos or wearing piercing are kind of to stand out to others. Thats why compared to Japanese people the number of people who have tattoos or pirecing are bigger than ours.

      Anyway, your sons tattoo sounds very cool! I would like to see the tattoo even if I am not interested in it.


  3. Jane
    Jul 31, 2011 @ 06:06:51

    Hi Yumi, I am with you and the Japanese. I don’t like tattoos. Even though I think some of the art for tattoos is interesting, it always reminds me of comics. I just worry about all the young girls who have marked their skin in this way realising one day this was not such a good idea. Buy some canvas or drawing books is my suggestion.


    • yumi
      Aug 02, 2011 @ 12:24:03

      Hi, Jane. Thanks for the comment! I am happy that you are with me! I also dont like tattoos. In my case it always reminds me of Yakuza- Japanese mafia, hahaha. In your contry can you see many young people who have tattoos here and there? How people think about tattoos in your contry?


  4. hajike
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 09:09:20

    Wow – I had no idea that tattoo was so taboo in Japan. I understand about the mafia association, in California a lot of criminals have tattoos – usually of poor quality however as they are given in prison. But you can always tell the criminals – you won’t see too many criminals walking around with $8,000 worth of Japanese tattoos on their bodies usually.
    Find a piece of art you particularly like and imagine that art drawn/painted on a person… is the art any less beautiful just by having been placed on a person?
    In a way, it’s no different than putting on lipstick/makeup or coloring your hair… just lasts longer. I really love Japanese art, here in California it’s very popular to have Japanese style tattoos. Culturally, it used to be very similar in the US as well. From what I understand in the 1950’s having a tattoo was considered quite a rebellious thing. It’s much more widely accepted now.


    • yumi
      Oct 02, 2011 @ 16:57:27

      Hi, hajike. Thanks for reading my blog entry and leaving the comment. Yeah, in somewhere people have tattoos as cosmetics. In Korea, having tattoos on eyebrows is common. Some of my friends go to Korea and to get the tattoos on their eyebrows. I think that it seems to be wired for me. Actually, the tattoos are not permanent. After around six years, it will be gone.

      If having tattoos make me to see more attractive, I will try, hahaha.


  5. arie
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 18:52:00

    i will do i


  6. Gist
    Oct 29, 2012 @ 12:56:44

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  7. Yume Nox
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 10:06:46

    Hi !
    Your blog is very interesting ! I didn’t know about the taboo in japan !
    Of course it is a question of “grass greener on the other side” like always… and it is logical that tattoos are associated with mafia.
    In France /UK as much as i can say, they are “assiociated” to punk/rock/rebel movement in people’opinion. So people look at tattooed people just the way they would look at someone dressed particularly or so…
    But anyway, I have a tattoo and i know that people always complimented me about it, in the subway, in the street and all ! All of my friends think “It is very pretty, i don’t want to have one personally but it is really ok on you”. (i also have friends who actually have tattoos of course ^^)
    I think tattoos are becoming so much common that nowadays people would just think “ah, she has a tattoo” and stop the thinking here.
    There is absolutely no “segregation” against tattooed people in France/UK : with mine i worked in child keeping, i was employee in bars in the UK and i am going to be a vet now. I always was alowed to show it.
    I admit it is better if you hide your tattoo when you don’t want to risk to be juged (like for a job interview for example), just like you won’t wear a miniskirt or party-make-up at this job interview, right ?
    Tattoo IS art ! It is called “Body art” . You may not like it of course and it is your perfect right (just like i don’t like “contemporary art” for example :D) but it is art are denying it is just pointless… They exist since so many times, in so many cultures which first made them for pride ! (Mahori, Maya … for example). I think the question is not “Is tattoo art?” but “Do you like it?” because the first one is obvious. Thing is people who don’t like something won’t refuse to call it “art” because it is a positive qualification.
    A lot of people have them done to say something about themselves, to be prettier or else. Mine was personally designed and i do not regret it.
    Well i hope my comment will open you heart/opinion in favor of tattoos ^^



    • yumi
      Mar 28, 2013 @ 09:51:14

      Hi, Yume Nox!

      Nice to meet you! Thanks for the comment, and I really enjoyed reading it! I’m sorry for the delay because I was in America for a while. I hope you visit my blog again and leave a comment!



  8. HideNGoShauna
    Apr 10, 2018 @ 04:57:00

    Very interesting. I do think tattoos are art myself- I recently got my first tattoo and it is quite large on my arm. It took me a long time to decide on what to get, and to choose a tattoo artist that I loved. My mom, dad and sister all have several tattoos each, and they were excited for me to get my first tattoo, even encouraging me to get it! I live in Canada.

    I love Japan very much- I have only visited once but I plan to return some day for sure. Even when I was getting my tattoo the only regret I had was thinking “now I can’t visit some onsen” but I understand Japanese culture is very different than my Canadian culture and I respect that.

    It is funny because one time I heard a saying and I think it might be true: as far as westerners go, it’s more unusual for someone NOT to have a tattoo than to have one!


    • yumi
      Apr 17, 2018 @ 00:03:26

      Hi, HideNGoShauna

      Thank you for stopping by my bog! Thank you for the comment. Actually, I wrote about the blog entry long time ago, and Japan has changed since then. You can go to some onsen even though you have tattoos on your bodies.

      I hope some day you can come back to Japan! Japan is waiting for you!


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