Art & Design

Wabori: The World of Japanese Tattoo Art

14 October 2015, London

Tattooing holds a controversial place in modern Japan. With roots in the darker side of Edo period merchant and artisan society, Japanese tattoo art has from its earliest days been associated with fringe culture and the criminal underworld of the Yakuza. As a result it remains something of a closed world, even to ordinary Japanese. Tonight’s speaker, Manami Okazaki, has gone to great lengths to immerse herself in the world of traditional tattoos, and will reflect on the world of wabori today. Based on her interviews with the masters of the craft, she will discuss the techniques, the contemporary clientele, why people get tattooed, and the place of wabori within modern Japanese society. The cross-pollination between East and West in tattoo culture makes this opportunity of great interest for those curious about tattoos and the transnational spread of culture. This talk will provide a chance to enjoy the value and beauty of what is a rich, highly-skilled, and often under-appreciated artistic tradition.


Manami Okazaki is an author and freelance journalist. She has written nine books on Japanese culture, art, crafts and fashion, which have been widely acclaimed by international media. She specializes in traditional Japanese culture, popular culture, travel, style, fashion, and subcultures.


Her book Wabori, Traditional Japanese Tattoo is reviewed here by The Japan Times and will be available on the night.

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email or submit the online booking form.


Free – booking recommended

14 October 2015, 6.45pm

The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way (Hall entrance on Barter St) London WC1A 2TH

The Japan Society