It was an era in which people did the unexpected, whether that was fashion or art, and the nation’s youth once again started getting tattooed.

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Complete with signs and listed phone numbers, these were walk-in tattoo parlors like those found throughout much of the Western world.

Instead of the back-room studios closely associated with organized crime, these shops provided a far more inviting environment designed to break the intimidating stereotype.

Many of the new generation of tattoo artists eschewed the traditional apprenticeship, picking up their craft elsewhere or even teaching themselves.

Below is an excerpt from said book, which I co-authored with Osaka-based tattooer and otaku clothing designer Hori Benny.

Much of it covers traditional motifs like koi, cherry blossoms, and dragons, etc., but here’s where we geeked out.

Part of what made irezumi intimidating in years past was that you couldn’t walk off the street right into a tattoo parlor.

They were hidden in houses, apartments, and unmarked buildings.

The self-taught Japanese tattooer known as Sabado opened Eccentric Tattoo Shop in Nagoya in 1993, among the first—if not the first—of Japan’s street shops.

“For the year before that, I tattooed out of an apartment, but I wanted to make a shop like I had seen during my travels in the United States and South America,” Sabado explains.