Curated by Horiyoshi III (pictured above in his younger years), a renowned master of traditional Japanese tattooing, this private collection is packed with materials related to the culture, customs, history and present-day state of skin art. Here are a few things you’ll learn when you visit:
The word ‘bunshin’, which appears in some of the earliest official records of Japanese history, is the ancient word for tattoos.
Prehistoric clay figurines discovered in the country testify to the fact that primitive-pattern tattoos existed before the Common Era.
While the Edo period gave birth to a vivid tattoo culture described as ‘living ukiyo-e’, several factors led to skin art being viewed in a negative light (hence the banning of tattoos in onsen). These factors include the use of tattoos as a form of punishment, laws banning them, the assumed connection between tattoos and organised crime (which grew out of the ’60s yakuza film boom) and the influence of Confucian morality. Standing against such prejudice, the Bunshin collection shines a light on millennia of tattoo history, as well as on the global tattoo moment of today.