Q Why do the yakuza like to be tattooed?

A From designs on earthenware vessels, it is assumed that tattooing was carried out in Japan during the Jomon period (ca.l 0,000 BC-ca. 300 BC). There are references to tattooing in the Kojiki (712 Record of Ancient Matters), Japan's oldest extant chronicle and in the Nihon Shoki (720 Chronicles of Japan), the oldest official history of Japan.

From the seventh century until the Muromachi period (1333-1568), no mention was made to tattooing in the various literature, but it was assumed to have been secretly carried out.

It spread rapidly in the latter 16th to the 19th centuries. Because convicts were tattooed as punishment during the Edo period (1600-1868), not many people chose to be tattooed.

As an ostentatious display of themselves, society's out-casts took up tattooing of themselves, as indeed it was with the gangsters and the yakuza. Their tattoos were vivid in color and profuse in design. The technique of tattooing in the Edo period was regarded as the best in the world.

The Meiji government in 1872 banned tattooing altogether but it still continued to be immensely popular and continued to have a strong following among the yakuza and plucky artisans.