From Samurai to Yakuza; From Honor to Stigma:

The Yakuza are a notorious crime syndicate/gang, who have gained world renowned fame. They are as well known for their crimes and behavior, as they are for their colorful tattoos. Indeed they alone, are the main course for the stigma surrounding tattoos, in Japan today.

But the colorful and often quite beautiful tattoos of the Yakuza, actually have quite the interesting story, that not many people know of. The very strict tattoo traditions of the syndicate/gang, originated with the noble Samurai.
Indeed, the tattoos themselves are of quite the high quality and craftsmanship, in keeping with this noble tradition.

The reason the Yakuza have inherited this noble tattoos tradition, is because of their own origin. The Yakuza are historically “descended” from Brigands, who originaly at the start of the Meiji Era, were samurai that had lost their land and status. Thus in order to keep living by the sword and not live in squaller, they became brigands and robbers, in an age where their country rejected them. This is how they became Yakuza.

Keeping A Noble Tradition Alive:

Indeed the Samurai brought their noble tattoo traditions, founded in Japanese folklore, legends and mythology, with them into their brigand and outlaw life. This is why it is no lighthearted matter, when a Yakuza initiate wants a tattoo. The tattoos in these gangs, are earned as rewards for service, given as a testament to ones character and never just spur of the moment.

They also have to be performed, preferably by the gangs own resident tattoo artist. Not only that, but tattoo motives are often decided by the leaders and elders of the gang. All of this is done, exactly in order to keep the noble tradition alive. The Yakuza are themselves perfectly aware, of the noble heritage of their body-art.

One could actually partially attribute the survival of the Japanese tattoo craft and style, to this gang. Without their strict rules and traditions on the matter, much information and culture surrounding it, might have been lost to the ages, after the previous tattoo ban that lasted till after the second world war.

Final Comments:

Japanese tattooing is in and of itself quite fascinating. But it is equally fascinating, to look at their “gang” tattoos. Indeed the tattoos of the Yakuza, are probably the most beautiful and best quality gang tattoos in the world.
They are all artworks on the human skin, which can rarely be said about other gang tattoos.

But to many people’s joy, tattoos are becoming less and less associated with the Yakuza in modern Japan. However, the very conservative government in Japan, still crackdown hard on tattoos, along with a fair bit of the population.

Regardless, we hope you enjoyed this slice of history, please feel free to give us your thoughts. Please keep your eye on Mediazink for more awesome articles. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram (@Mediazink_Official), for more awesome articles and other content.