The writ woman : portrayals of tattooed women in Japanese society



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Tattoos, or irezumi, in Japanese culture are closely associated with the Japanese crime group known as the yakuza. It is these negative associations that have made it difficult for anyone with tattoos in Japan to be viewed positively, especially women. This paper hopes to alleviate some of this stigma by providing more research and information on tattoos in Japanese society, This paper looks at the historical significance of tattoos and their diffusion among different groups of Japanese society. Popular representations of the tattooed female body are also analyzed and how the “type” of tattooed female portrayed is dependent upon the gender of the author. Male authored works tend to focus on the tattooed female as overly sexual with a troubled past. Female authored works more accurately represent the female’s motivations for getting tattooed and that women feel liberated by them. Interviews of present day tattooed women show that many women now see tattoos as fashionable and that the younger generation is letting go of the negative perceptions associated with tattoos.