VIDEO SHOWS: FEMALE TATTOO ARTIST TATTOOING A CLIENT / JAPANESE PEOPLE WITH TATTOOS DOING VARIOUS ACTIVITIES AND SPEAKING ABOUT JAPANESE TATTOO CULTURE / MAN WITH AMPUTATED LEG SHOWING OFF TATTOOS / MAN WITH TATTOOS SURFING / MEN WITH TATTOOS IN JAPANESE BATH / PEOPLE WITH TATTOOS AT TATTOO PARTY
WARABI, JAPAN (FILE - SEPTEMBER 4, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
1. VARIOUS OF TRADITIONAL JAPANESE TATTOO ARTIST SHODAI HORIREN TATTOOING WOMAN'S BACK
2. HORIREN TAKING PHOTOGRAPH OF WOMAN'S BACK TO SHOW HER WORK
3. VARIOUS OF HORIREN, WHO HAS ENTIRE HEAD TATTOOED, PREPARING INK FOR TATTOOING
4. VARIOUS OF HORIREN PREPARING NEEDLE
5. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) TRADITIONAL JAPANESE TATTOO ARTIST, SHODAI HORIREN, SAYING:
"A tattoo will absolutely be with you until you die. For example, a house may collapse, you may break up with a lover. Kids grow up and leave. But a tattoo is part of your body and will be with you all your life. That's the appeal."
TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - SEPTEMBER 7, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
6. AMPUTEE HIDEYUKI TOGASHI PUTTING ON SHIRT OVER TATTOOS
7. TATTOO ON TOGASHI'S STUMP WHERE AMPUTATION TOOK PLACE
8. VARIOUS OF TOGASHI PUTTING ON PROSTHETIC LEG
9. VARIOUS OF TOGASHI WALKING
10. VARIOUS OF TOGASHI POSING WITH TATTOOS
11. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) TATTOOED AMPUTEE, HIDEYUKI TOGASHI, SAYING:
"Although I lost tattoos on this part of (my leg), I became mentally stronger thanks to tattoos, so it was quick for me to get over it (the shock of amputation)."
ONJUKU BEACH, JAPAN (RECENT - OCTOBER 4, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
12. VARIOUS OF TATTOOED SURFER TAKASHI MIKAJIRI WALKING TO BEACH WITH SURFBOARD
13. VARIOUS OF MIKAJIRI WALKING ON BEACH
14. MIKAJIRI PUTTING ON WETSUIT OVER TATTOOS
15. (MUTE) DRONE FOOTAGE OF MIKAJIRI SURFING
16. MIKAJIRI SURFING
17. (MUTE) DRONE FOOTAGE OF MIKAJIRI LYING ON SURFBOARD
TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - SEPTEMBER 24, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
18. DOORS OPEN INTO A RARE JAPANESE BATHHOUSE, OR 'SENTO', WHICH ALLOWS TATTOOED PATRONS
19. TATTOO ON MAN'S LEG / MAN COVERED IN TATTOOS
20. MEN IN BATH
21. TATTOO ON MAN'S BACK
22. VARIOUS OF MAN POURING WATER FROM BATH ON BACK
23. MEN STANDING UP IN ROW IN BATH
TOKYO, JAPAN (FILE - FEBRUARY 16, 2020) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)
24. TATTOOED MAN AT PARTY CELEBRATING JAPANESE TATTOO CULTURE
25. MAN TATTOOED FROM HEAD TO TOE
26. VARIOUS OF TATTOOED PEOPLE GATHERING AT PARTY
27. TATTOOED MEN SHOWING OFF TATTOOS ON BACK
28. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) ORGANISER OF TATTOO PARTY, HIROYUKI NEMOTO, SAYING:
"The event is important because usually we hide our tattoos from society, but just once a year we can proudly show off our tattoos and show each other what new tattoos we've got."
29. HIROKI TAKAMURA SHOWING OFF HIS FULL BODY TATTOO
30. (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) FORMER SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR, NOW AUTHOR, HIROYUKI NEMOTO, SAYING:
"At my past job, tattoos were not allowed so I applied foundation every morning to cover it. Before, I was a school administrator."
31. VARIOUS OF TATTOOED PEOPLE POSING FOR PHOTOGRAPHS AND CHANTING DURING PARTY
STORY: Shodai Horiren got her first tattoo on a lark while on a trip in Australia nearly three decades ago. Now she is tattooed from head to foot, even on her shaven scalp, and is one of Japan's most renowned traditional tattoo artists.
"A house may collapse, you may break up with a lover. Kids grow up and leave. But a tattoo is part of your body and will be with you all your life. That's the appeal," said Horiren, 52, at her studio just north of Tokyo.
Horiren belongs to a proud and growing tribe of Japanese tattoo aficionados who defy deeply-rooted social taboos associating tattoos with crime, turning their skin into vivid palettes of colour with elaborate full-body designs, often from Japanese legends.
Banned from spas, hot spring resorts, some beaches and many gyms and pools, they hope the presence of tattooed foreign athletes at last year's Rugby World Cup and next year's Tokyo Olympic Games, postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will help sweep away the negative perceptions.
Tattoos have been linked to criminals in Japan from as long as 400 years ago, most recently in yakuza (criminal gangs) members - whose full-body decorations stopped short of their hands and necks, allowing concealment under regular clothes.
But the popularity of Western rock music, with increasingly tattoo-sporting musicians, began eating away at the bias. A landmark court decision last year that tattoos were for decoration, not medical procedures, helped clarify their murky legal status and may signal a shift in attitude - and lead the industry to regulate itself, giving it a mainstream image.
Referring to them as tattoos rather than the traditional Japanese term "irezumi," as is increasingly common, may also help by giving them a stylish, fashionable veneer.
Tattoo devotees are also celebrating being in the open, meeting at large parties to bare and share their designs.
(Production: Kim Kyung Hoon, Jack Tarrant)