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An Encounter with Legacy: Meeting the Maestro of Tokyo's Irezumi

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April 2023



In the bustling heart of Tokyo, amid the electric buzz and modernity, I recently had the profound honor of crossing paths with Shigeru-san – a virtuoso in the realm of traditional Japanese tattooing, or 'irezumi'. This venerable artist, now in his eighth decade, has been etching history and stories onto the skin of yakuza members for years, his creations becoming emblematic of their unyielding loyalty and unwavering allegiance.

With hands that have been steadied by years of mastery and dedication, Shigeru-san crafts narratives of valor, fidelity, and audacity, each design a symphony of colors and intricate detail. The tapestry of symbols and motifs in his works is not just art; it's a visual chronicle of tales that span generations, capturing the ethos of those who wear them.

Yet, it would be a mistake to merely pigeonhole Shigeru-san by the clientele he serves. Beneath the skin-deep association with the yakuza's enigmatic world lies a man who embodies humility, sagacity, and an undying ardor for his vocation. More than just a tattoo artist, Shigeru-san is a living repository of Japan's rich cultural tapestry and historical lineage.

To stand in his presence, to watch him weave stories with ink and needle, was not merely an experience; it was a privilege. In Shigeru-san, I didn't just meet an artist; I encountered a chapter of Japan's enduring legacy.

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