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Katsukawa School (1760s-1810s)

Katsukawa School (1760s-1810s)
More prints depicting actors of the kabuki theatre were produced in the Edo period (1603-1868) than all other subjects combined. The beginning of the 18th century saw the popularity of kabuki theatre expanding to the society at large. The dramatic growth in number, variety, and quality of actor ...
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Shoki the Demon Hunter

Shoki the Demon Hunter
Charms and amulets have been a popular means of protection against illness for the longest time. In the past, such a misfortune was considered to have supernatural origin, as well as natural causes. Belief in supernatural forces, such as the evil eye or witchcraft, was deeply rooted into the ...
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The Water of Atonement

The Water of Atonement
Images of water are often depicted within the tattoos of multiple cultures, whether as the ocean, seas or in other forms. Within the West these are often featured alongside ships and sea creatures. While other cultures sometimes opt to use the symbology of water in more abstract forms, a common ...
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The Majestic Lady

The Majestic Lady
Depictions of women are a common feature of tattoos around the globe. Traditionally in the West they are often drawn in a burlesque style as well as mermaids being popular among sailors. Within Japan depictions of females takes on a different form. Historically, there are two common female tattoo ...
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Japan’s Fleeting Beauty

Japan’s Fleeting Beauty
Flora and fauna are widely used within Japanese tattoos, enhancing the design and framing the main image, often overlooked and only appreciated for their visual impact. In Western cultures we also see this use of plants in design, with different plants holding deeper meaning for different cultures. ...
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The Beautiful and Shrewd Fox

The Beautiful and Shrewd Fox
Japanese folklore is rich in stories of creatures, real and mythical, that come to life in tattoo designs. While dragons, tigers, and koi fish are some of the most popular choices for symbolism, none can match the mysterious aura of the fox. Depicting a Japanese fox in a tattoo can be quite tricky ...
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Firemen and Tattoos in Japanese Woodblock Prints

Firemen and Tattoos in Japanese Woodblock Prints
Back in the 17th and up to the 19th century, the city of Edo (today’s Tokyo) was under constant threat of fire. Closely built houses were made of highly flammable materials and the presence of candles, paper lanterns, charcoal braziers and open stoves added to the danger. Frequent earthquakes, ...
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Dragons in Japanese Tattoos and the Oyama Pilgrimage

Dragons in Japanese Tattoos and the Oyama Pilgrimage
In Edo-period Japan (1603 – 1868), dragons had special importance for ‘hikeshi’ (firemen), as they were seen as creatures of the sea and therefore not being affected by fire. In Japanese belief, dragons are associated with koi fish. Legend says that a koi fish’s ability to swim upstream and ...
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Hokusai Katsushika - Master of Drawing

Hokusai Katsushika - Master of Drawing
Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is considered to be one of the greatest artists by the entire art world. He devoted almost all of his 90 years of life to drawing and painting. Never satisfied with one technique or mastering one style of drawing, he always sought to improve as an artist. Every ...
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From Woodblock Print Art to Japanese Tattoos

From Woodblock Print Art to Japanese Tattoos
For the longest time, Japanese decorative tattoos were called horimono (彫り物, ‘carved’ ‘thing’ or ‘object’) while those used for punishment irezumi (入れ墨) which is why tattooists refused to use this term, wishing to distance their art from the rather brutal practice of ...
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