The cultural appreciation of the Japanese tatto

Miller, Rosemary (2008) The cultural appreciation of the Japanese tatto. MSc dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The west has a very narrow view of what constitutes the Japanese culture. Manga (Japanese comics), computer games and modern technology are seen by many as an attractive view of Japan. The west follows trend in fashion, and in recent years, Japanese tattoo art seems to have grown in popularity. The history of Japanese tattooing can be traced back to the latter years of the Edo period in Japanese history. The symbols depicted on the skin of both men and women have deep intrinsic meanings to the Japanese culture. The Japanese tattoo differs from the western tattoo because it shares a commitment central to the Samurai ethic: “Only from courage and humility does true honour arise” (Alexander 2001) and requires years of commitment (Kitamura 2001 p.7).

    It is subjected to cultural appropriation by the western world, and has gradually become a commodity due to an increased interest in Japanese culture as a whole. Commodification can undermine the role of tattoos in other cultures. Tattoo styles tend to follow fashion, and it is possible this growing interest in Japanese art will be abandoned in the future, in preference of that of other cultures. This may in turn result in cultural ownership being reclaimed, and traditional practices reinstated in Japan. Cultural appropriation harms the appropriated culture, yet it is necessary to cultural growth and development.

    Tattoos may never truly be accepted in the west as a mainstream art form, but should be considered as part of heritage in its varying forms throughout the world. Tattoos are not just images depicted on the skin; they are messages of past and present heritage and it is wise to think carefully before wearing the art of another culture to avoid conveying the wrong message.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: ?? EDAM ??
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2011 16:08
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 11:17

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