Irezumi Itai (Yori Moriarty, 2015)

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Irezumi Itai, by Yori Moriarty (2015).

Score: a great introduction to the world of traditional Japanese tattoo.

I got my hands on this when my tattooist recommended it to learn more about the mythology and meaning of common Japanese tattoos, and I definitely recommend it to you.

The book opens with a short introduction to the history of teboriduring the 18th and 19th century. Short chapters devoted to common motifs follow, divided in water, mythological animals, real animals, mythological characters, historical characters, flowers, shunga andyokai. It closes with a short epilogue that narrates Moriarty’s meeting with Horiyoshi and Horitake and a gallery of original designs.

The book is just the right size to be comfortable to read and the value for money is extraordinary: the book is printed full colour on good paper, with high quality illustrations and it’s sold for roughly 20 euro. The layout is beautiful, and it is lavishly decorated with ukiyo-e prints that illustrate the descriptions Moriarty is making.

Its only weakness is probably writing. Moriarty’s style is unpolished, informal and sometimes confusing. There are no major spelling mistakes but there are some typos and a lot of punctuation mistakes, so the text could have benefitted from some thorough copyediting.

Definitely worth buying if you have 20 euro lying around and would like to learn more about irezumi.

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