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Did Samurai Have Tattoos?

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  • Did Samurai Have Tattoos?

    ...if so, did they have a function/purpose and what did they depict?

  • #2
    i'm gonna go waaaaay out on a limb and say no.
    1. ain't no time for tattooin' when there's killin' to be done...
    2. don't wanna get confused with yakuza...

    that's my guesses and in this, I'm unanimous with myself!

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    • #3
      Indeed Toshiro Mifune didn't have any

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      • #4
        This is an interesting read:http://www.tattoos.com/mieko.htm

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        • #5
          Did Samurai Have Tattoos?
          ...if so, did they have a function/purpose and what did they depict?
          No. Tattooing was used in old Japan as identification of criminals. This is why the yakuza sport lots of body art. The eta (unclean) were the only ones that had tattoos. If I remember correctly, I did read somewhere that some of the clans would tattoo their members as a means of identification, but I was not able to confirm that this was true, and sort of doubt it due to the Japanese outlook on it at that time.

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          • #6
            That's a pretty interesting link you posted Chris.
            Thanks!

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            • #7
              Yes, thanks for the link. Very comprehensive, Wraith.

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              • #8
                Please don't tattoo "justice, bushido, budo, heart, no mind, love and all that shit" in Japanese, Chinese or any Asian characters... How would you feel if you see a Korean guy tattooed 'Justice' in English on his arm......... dumb ass justice.....

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by rainmaker View Post
                  Please don't tattoo "justice, bushido, budo, heart, no mind, love and all that shit" in Japanese, Chinese or any Asian characters... How would you feel if you see a Korean guy tattooed 'Justice' in English on his arm......... dumb ass justice.....
                  Wouldn't bother me one bit! Although, it might look better tattooed across his forehead....

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rainmaker View Post
                    Please don't tattoo "justice, bushido, budo, heart, no mind, love and all that shit" in Japanese, Chinese or any Asian characters... How would you feel if you see a Korean guy tattooed 'Justice' in English on his arm......... dumb ass justice.....
                    It would depend if it said "justice" or "dumb ass justice". Because the second would make me smile, whereas the first wouldn't make me feel anything at all.

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                    • #11
                      there's a blog of this stuff:

                      http://hanzismatter.blogspot.jp/

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dillon View Post
                        there's a blog of this stuff:

                        http://hanzismatter.blogspot.jp/
                        Great site! Very funny, thanks.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by rainmaker View Post
                          Please don't tattoo "justice, bushido, budo, heart, no mind, love and all that shit" in Japanese, Chinese or any Asian characters... How would you feel if you see a Korean guy tattooed 'Justice' in English on his arm......... dumb ass justice.....
                          I'd be more amused if they told him it meant justice and really had tattooed "Donkey" or something else instead. Ahh the dangers of getting tattoos you can't read.

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                          • #14
                            I think there was a semi-famous magistrate once upon a time (Toyama Kinshiro) who is said to have had a full shoulder tattoo, and this earned him some renown. But the actual person has been pictured in historic movies, historic anime, and the like so many times it is really difficult to find out whether or not he really did have a tattoo or whether this is a fictionalized convention that has been popular with his portrayal.

                            But given the way people are... I would imagine that, yes, there were probably some people - including the samurai - who had tattoos without criminal backgrounds in feudal Japan. But certainly not in any numbers that could be considered culturally significant.
                            Last edited by UnimportantHero; 1st June 2012, 08:34 AM.

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                            • #15
                              I might add that in Buddhism, tattooing is considered defilement of the body.

                              Of course, people can and will selectively choose what part of their creed to adhere to or ignore, social conventions having a stronger effect on people than dogma/teachings. Suicide is also prohibited in Buddhism but seppuku was deeply ingrained in bushi culture.

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