ANCIENT ART OF THE JAPANESE TEBORI TATTOO MASTERS | INK IN HARMONY

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Taking off from JFK today for a two week trip that will take me on a quick stop at Tokyo, then on to Korea, China, and finally Hong Kong.  The zen and artistry of Japanese tattoo has long fascinated me, and with this trip, this post seemed only fitting.

“Oguri, known in Japan as Horihide, his tattooing name, is a famous artist and highly regarded as the pioneer that brought Japanese tattooing to American tattooists, like Sailor Jerry, and subsequently Ed Hardy, after World War II. Thus setting the stage for large Asian body suit tattoo design to change the face of western tattooing in the last half of the twenty first century. Here in his own words is his story~

“In old days, Japanese tattooists worked at their own houses and ran business quietly. They didn’t put up a sign and list telephone numbers on the book. The practice of tattooing was forbidden in Japan (until the end of World War II). The customers used to find the tattoo shops by word of mouth.

When I was an apprentice, feudal customs still existed in Japan. The apprenticeship was one of the feudal customs called uchideshi in Japanese. Normally, pupils lived with their masters, and were trained for 5 years. After 5-year training, the pupils worked independently, and gave the masters money that he earned for one year. The one-year service was called oreiboko in Japanese, the service to express the gratitude towards the masters. The masters usually told new pupils about this system, 5-year-training and 1-year service, when they began the apprenticeship.”

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Mid 20th century, Japan ~ A group of traditionally tattooed gamblers. Umezu (c), the chief of gambling, sits among them. ~ Image by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection

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“I slept at the master’s workplace when I was a pupil. I wanted to be a great tattoo artist as soon as possible. In the middle of the night, I picked up the needles from the master’s tool box, sat cross-legged and practiced tattooing on my thigh without the ink, remembering how my master performed. I continued to practice tattooing without using the ink. I used a thick bamboo stick for sujibori (outlining), which was about 20 cm long. The edge of the stick was sharpened, and 6-7 needles were put in order and tied up by silk thread. The length of the tip of needles was 3-4 mm. I wanted to workas a tattooist soon, and practiced incising both my thighs with the bamboo stick every night after work.I did not know how to use the tattooing tools and how to adjust the angles. Sometimes I penetrated the skin very deeply with the needles, and the skin bled and swelled. I could not tattoo by using the bamboo stick as I wanted.During the daytime I did chores. If I had no work during the day, I would sit down on the left side of my master and watch his work from the distance.

Every customer came to the master by appointment and got hitoppori. Hitoppori in Japanese means to get tattooed for 2 hours each day. If a big tattoo was to be done, the customer came by every third day. I used to keep sitting straight for 2 hours and just watching my master’s hands learn his tattooing skills. The master would say to me, ‘I’m not going to lecture you. You steal my techniques by watching me work.’ Watching is the fastest way to learn, rather than listening to the lecture, if people really want to learn something. Even though I was full of enthusiasm, my skills were not improved easily. I couldn’t see any progress at all.”

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1946, Tokyo, Japan ~ A Japanese tattoo artist works on the shoulder of a Yakuza gang member. ~ Image by © Horace Bristol

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“One day, the master’s wife asked me to split wood. (Pupils normally call the master’s wife ane-san or okami-san. The master’s wife looked so happy when I called her ane-san. So I called her ane-san during the apprenticeship.) One day while I was splitting wood in the back yard, I got hotter and hotter. I was in a sweat, and took off my shirt and trousers. Ane-san came and asked me to take a rest. She brought a cup of tea for me. Then, Ane-san happened to see my traces of the needles on the thighs.

She was surprised and said to me, ‘How did you get scars on the thighs? Do you practice tattooing by yourself?’

‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘but I cannot tattoo well like the master does.’

‘Have you ever seen my husband’s legs and ankles?’ she asked again.

‘No.’ I said.

She continued, ‘His whole legs are covered with tattoos. You know what I mean? He told me that he practiced tattooing on his legs with the ink when he was a pupil. That’s why his legs are all black. He also told me that a tattooist needs to learn by tattooing his own body to become a professional tattooist. There is nothing to replace human skin. So you have to learn tattooing by using (tattooing) your body.'”

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BEST IN CLASS FOR BUILT TO LAST | CHIPPEWA BOOTS

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Circa 1939, Ola, Idaho — Farmers turned Loggers with a load ready to go to their self-help cooperative sawmill, started with a Farm Security Administration loan.

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

The thing about great American design is that, for the most part, function is the driving element.   It’s this functionality that’s ultimately the true spirit of what MADE IN AMERICA stands for.  It ain’t about being pretty; it’s about being tough and working the way it’s supposed to.  A lot of it harkens back to a time when Americans toiled long and hard outside, with their hands, and demanded gear that could hold up to their hard-scrabble lives, and unforgiving the elements.  The gear was simple, honest, and true.  You got your money’s worth.

Our forebears would probably be more than slightly amused by the fact that many of today’s American workwear brand purists are not loggers, miners, and metal workers– however, the quality, core values, and classic designs behind these brands still resonate deeply within us.  I believe down inside, most of us value the dignity of hard work, quality goods, and simpler times.  There’s something honest and pure that’s sadly missing in the daily gadget grind of our increasingly disposable lives.  It’s like some of us have a primal itch that we just can’t scratch– so we gird our loins with garb from days gone by, to pay tribute to a life and times we’ll never know, but long for so badly.

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Circa 1908– Lumberjacks in Northern Minnesota –Image by © Minnesota Historical Society

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Recently I had the honor of sitting down with Clark Perkins, brand manager for legendary Chippewa Boots.  Full disclosure– I am not exactly Charlie Rose, I am a cultural observer and men’s wear guy who gets excited about a lot of different things, especially product I use and love.  I traffic in hyperbole, but in this case everything I pen about Chippewa boots is 100% true!  Ok, maybe a little opinion is thrown in there, but when I interview brand managers, merchants, and design folks I admire, I melt into the form of  a 13 year old girl watching Twilight than an objective observer, but what the hell.  When you’re talking about ‘best in class’ products, respect is due.

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Circa 1930s– Loggers (or Lumberjacks) working every muscle in their body, and living off the land.

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Tell me a little about the Chippewa Story?

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“IVY LEAGUE TODAY” 1975 | VINTAGE RALPH LAUREN POLO

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Heavy Tweed Jacket has one of the most amazing archives of vintage Ivy menswear publications, catalogs, etc. anywhere. Hands down.  It’s a daily read for inspiration, education & nostalgia.  Last week HTJ ran an amazing vintage spread on Ivy Today – 1975 via “Men’s Club” magazine. The pics are truly priceless– including a great ad for the then relatively young brand, Polo Ralph Lauren (est. 1967).

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men's club magazine 6-1975

Vintage 1975 Polo Ralph Lauren ad

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A young Ralph Lauren, via Men's Club 1975

A young Ralph Lauren, via Men's Club 1975

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The Fashion Eye of the Rising Sun | STYLE from TOKYO

I keep pretty regular tabs on STYLE from Tokyo just to see what is going on with the everyday Japanese street scene.  Every so often you’ll see some pretty amazing interpretations of Americana & Ivy looks, with the added bonus of just crazy-arse fashionistos who let it all hang out.  The added ESL captions (which I’ll include unedited) are charming and at times priceless, and can usually coax a much appreciated grin to my face– even on the worst of days.  Heck, I know I couldn’t do any better translating to Japanese, so I give ‘em credit and respect for putting it out there.  

Without further ado–

style from tokyo

at the exhibition...showroom MAGNUM

He’s designer of ‘HIROSHI TSUBOUCHI’.
So kindly gentleman,I really like him!

Thank you so much showroom MAGNUM.

 

style from tokyo

on the street ,harajyuku

Thay are student of collage of photograph.

I love this big smile!

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Samurai 15oz 10 Year Anniversary Jeans

Samurai 15oz 10 Year Jeans

The S0510XX uses 100% Texas cotton which is famous for being a “rough” cotton due to it’s high amount of short fibers.  Normally, the short fibers are removed to make a smoother fabric, but Samurai adds more short cotton fibers to make the yarn even rougher.  The result is a yarn that is highly uneven in size, making the woven fabric very “slubby” (irregular).  Moreover, while most jean manufacturers mix different cottons from various areas, Samurai uses only 100% Texas cotton in the S0510XX.  Even the thread is made of 100% Texas cotton.  This creates a jean that captures the essence and spirit of this tough Texas denim.

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Like all Samurai jeans, the S0510XX uses 100% pure indigo with no fillers, using the maximum amount of indigo that the yarn can hold.  Weighing in at 15 ounces, Samurai also maximized the tension of the weave, so that after washing, the denim actually becomes even more stiff and the weave even tighter resulting in a jean with unprecedented “atari” (fading). 

Link to buy at Blue in Green

Junya Watanabe Spring 2009

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Junya Watanabe’s (of Comme des Garcons) Spring 2009 collection is a very fitted & fresh mix of American menswear “classics with a twist”.  Collaborations with iconic prepster brands- Brooks Brothers, Levi’s, Lacoste and Baracuta made for some funky updates to familiar models, patterns and fabrics.  What also makes it youthful is eye-catching denim pieces and cool hats thrown in.

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ROGUES, SAILORS & ANCIENT MARINERS A HISTORICAL VIEW OF NAUTICAL TATTOOS

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In the early 19th century, as more and more sailors returned from distant lands, tattooing had become highly popular in the British Navy. It spread even to the British admiralty, which has for a long time included certain royals who obtained rank. Field Marshal Earl Roberts is rumored to have expressed the opinion that “every officer in the British army should be tattooed with his regimental crest.” It not only boosted morale among the ranks, but it proved useful when identifying casualties. The Prince of Wales was tattooed with a Jerusalem Cross after visiting the Holy Land in 1862. Then, his sons, the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of York (later King George V) were tattooed by the Japanese master tattooist, Hori Chiyo.

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Tattoo you.

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Although much of maritime tattooing took place on board ship, sailor to sailor– the craze spawned an industry of tattoo parlors in port cities in Britain and the United States, and indeed, around the world. Many of the proprietors of early tattoo shops were sailors who had come ashore. Famed British tattoo artist George Burchett learned his craft with an early stint in the service. By the end of the 19th century, it was estimated that ninety percent of British and American sailors had tattoos, according to some sources.

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The anchor remains the favorite tattoo of sailors, and is still one of the most popular designs worldwide– usually placed on the upper arm, just like Popeye.  Tattoos of a sailor’s ship were like a badge of honor that proudly displayed his feelings of patriotism and comradery.  Roosters tattooed on the foot were a common motif in the early days– they acted as charms to protect against drowning.  And of course, Images of naked women were a major hit too– that is until the brass issued their ‘obscene’ warning.  After that, naval applicants could have their hopes dashed by showing up with too much ‘skin’ on their skin. Tattoo artists did a booming business covering the scantily-clad hula girls with grass skirts.

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Samurai Jeans Limited Edition 10th Anniversary Shogun Model.

Samurai 17oz S5000 Natural Indigo Jeans - $665

 

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Details:

  • 300 pairs produced / Serial Numbered
  • 100% cotton 17 ounce Japanese selvage denim
  • Raw Unwashed / Shrink to Fit
  • Natural Indigo warp threads Interwoven with Bamboo Ink dyed weft yarns
  • Dyed by KaseZome Technique (20 Dying Repetitions)
  • Gold-plated Steel Tack Buttons
  • Gold Leaf embossed Deer Leather patch
  • Red Line Selvage intertwined with Gold and Silver Lamé threads
  • Silk-screened Cotton/Hemp fabric pocket bags
  • Comes Boxed with Small denim Carry pouch
  • Made In Japan 
  • $665- Insane.