When i was in college, the little anime twits would trot up to me, make small talk, and then after introducing myself as Sako, they asked me what my real name was.

“Fusako.” But you’re white! “Not as white as you. My father is japanese.” And then they’d kiss my feet and apologize, but i’d already been offended. It’s always bothered me that my culture has become a fad, even more so now, no thanks to adult swim,  and now i’m noticing that yakuza-style tattoos seem to be becoming a fad.

I am third generation soka gakkai buddhist, and was raised that way. Once upon a time ago, my father, my sister and i all pondered the idea of getting massive buddhist-themed tattoos as a family. My father wanted a dragon, my sister wanted a kitsune, and i wanted kiirin, and they’d all have some kind of underlying, uniting buddhist theme to the decorations, and maybe some quotes from the gosho.

We thought we’d ask my dad’s mother, my namesake, for her opinion on the idea.

She shit a brick. “NO. We are SAMURAI. Tattoos are for gangsters, for Yakuza. They mean you have no family, and need to deface your temple to feel like you are part of something. There is no honor in it, and you would disgrace our bloodline if you did that. No.”

The three of us were taken aback, and respected her wishes by not getting them, but it doesn’t keep me from thinking about it again from time to time.

This Julian Meagher Ink Butter did a lovely series on tattooing, Yakuza style included.

If you’d like to see more, you can via The Art of Julian Meagher Ink Butter™.

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