Japanese Yakuza Tattoos Meaning

The traditional Japanese tattoo is very negatively connoted in Japan, because of its history related to crime and the underworld. The Yakuza, members of the Japanese mafia, are indeed descendants of the Japanese criminals of the Edo era, who were tattooed punitively by the authorities.

Yakuza Tattoos image

This banning of society led these criminals, who were able to distinguish themselves and recognize each other, to unite, to structure themselves and to create highly influential criminal organizations in Japan, called “Boryokudan”. The yakuzas call themselves the losers, the good ones: the syllables Ya (yattsu, hatchi, 8) – ku (kyu, 9) za San, 3) means 8-9-3- or 20, which represents a losing hand of the Oicho-Kabu, a Japanese card game similar to Baccara, and linked to the Bakuto world

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Yakuza tattoos are an institution within these occult organizations, as well as the practice of the cut finger, inherited from the “Bakuto” (professional gamblers who control the games of chance). The tattoos were originally made on the Bakuto at each committed crime. This practice has become an honor for the Yakuza and an initiatory rite. Members of the same clan will have motives with similar meanings, often symbolizing the alleged virtues of these criminals: blind loyalty, loyalty, courage, strength, obedience.

Each member gradually has tattoos on the whole body, which represents a life of suffering, the traditional Yakuza tattoos being normally done by hand without the use of electrical machines, according to Tebori technique, mastered by a very limited number Master tattoo artists using needle bundles, a bamboo handle and coal ink with colored pigments, the traditional Japanese tattoo being generally very colorful. An Irezumi, the integral Yakuza Tattoos, can represent approximately more than 30,000 euros in total: this is an honor for these Yakuza groups

Today, paradoxically, the Yakuza are becoming more and more discreet and less and less tattooed, abandon traditional criminal channels to invest the financial circles for example, and use an inverse strategy by becoming more subtle, without necessarily Tattooing, even though it is estimated that 3/4 of the Yakuzas wear Irezumis. Young yakuzas now prefer, like their honest congeners, Western tattoos and motifs