8 Best Japanese Tattoo Books 2023

Which are the best Japanese Tattoo Books?

Japanese tattoos have captivated people worldwide with their intricate designs, vibrant colors, and profound cultural symbolism. Rooted in a centuries-old tradition, these body artworks are a fusion of artistry, history, and spirituality. 

Whether you are an enthusiast seeking inspiration or someone eager to delve into the cultural significance behind Japanese tattoos, a good book can serve as an invaluable resource. 

In this article, I present a carefully curated list of the 10 best Japanese tattoo books that explore the captivating world of Japanese tattooing.

List of Top 8 Japanese Tattoo Books

I hope this helps you gain knowledge and insight if getting a tattoo is on your bucket list. Keep reading..!

1. Japanese Tattoos: History * Culture * Design (2016)

Japanese Tattoos: History * Culture * Design” by Brian Ashcraft and Hori Benny serves as a comprehensive exploration of Japanese tattooing, offering readers an in-depth understanding of its history, cultural context, and stunning designs. 

From the ancient origins of irezumi to contemporary styles and techniques, this book covers it all. Richly illustrated with vibrant images, it showcases the intricate artistry and symbolic meanings behind Japanese tattoos. 

The book also features interviews with renowned tattoo artists, providing valuable insights into their creative process and the cultural significance they imbue into their works. 

Get the book here: Japanese Tattoos

2. Bushido: Legacies of the Japanese Tattoo (2000)

In “Bushido: Legacies of the Japanese Tattoo,” author Takahiro Kitamura delves into the profound connection between the samurai code of Bushido and the art of Japanese tattoos. 

Drawing on his extensive knowledge of traditional Japanese tattooing, Kitamura explores the historical and cultural contexts that shaped the symbiotic relationship between Bushido and tattooing. 

Through captivating narratives, he elucidates how the ideals of honor, loyalty, and self-discipline embodied in Bushido found expression in the tattoo designs of samurai warriors.

Get the book here: Bushido

3. Tattoos of the Floating World (2003)

Tattoos of the Floating World” by Takahiro Kitamura showcases the influence of ukiyo-e, traditional Japanese woodblock prints, on the motifs and compositions found in Japanese tattoos. 

Kitamura reveals the interconnectedness between these two art forms, highlighting how iconic images from ukiyo-e, such as mythical creatures, legendary heroes, and beautiful courtesans, have been reinterpreted and integrated into Japanese tattoo designs. 

The book presents a visually stunning collection of tattoo artwork, juxtaposing traditional ukiyo-e prints with corresponding tattoo renditions. 

Get the book here: Tattoos of the Floating World

4. The Japanese Tattoo (1987)

With “The Japanese Tattoo,” acclaimed photographer Sandi Fellman offers readers a visually captivating journey into the world of traditional Japanese tattooing. Through her expert lens, Fellman captures the artistry and craftsmanship behind these timeless body artworks. 

The book features a collection of striking photographs that showcase the intricate details, vibrant colors, and dynamic compositions of Japanese tattoos. 

Fellman’s images are accompanied by insightful interviews with tattoo artists, providing a deeper understanding of their techniques, inspirations, and the cultural significance they strive to preserve. 

Get the book here: The Japanese Tattoo

5. The Japanese Tattoo (1989)

The Japanese Tattoo” by Ian Buruma takes readers on a captivating exploration of Japanese tattoo culture, shedding light on its social, historical, and artistic dimensions. 

The book delves into the rich history of Japanese tattooing, tracing its origins from ancient times to the present day. 

Buruma examines the cultural and social contexts in which Japanese tattoos have flourished, providing a nuanced understanding of their significance within Japanese society.

Get the book here: The Japanese Tattoo

6. Tattooing From Japan To The West (2004)

In “Tattooing From Japan To The West,” renowned tattoo artist Horitaka showcases the works of influential tattoo artists, providing a comprehensive overview of Japanese tattoo culture.

The book features a wide range of stunning tattoo designs, from traditional motifs to contemporary interpretations. 

Through exquisite photography and detailed descriptions, Horitaka celebrates the artistry and technical skills of Japanese tattoo artists, offering readers a firsthand look at their remarkable creations.

Get the book here: Tattooing From Japan To The West

7. Japanese Tattoos: Meanings, Shapes, and Motifs (2018)

Delving into the profound symbolism and meanings behind various motifs in Japanese tattoo art, “Japanese Tattoos: Meanings, Shapes, and Motifs” by Yori Moriarty offers a deeper understanding of the cultural and spiritual significance embedded in these intricate designs. 

The book explores a wide range of motifs such as dragons, cherry blossoms, koi fish, and more, unraveling their historical, mythological, and symbolic contexts. 

With detailed explanations and visually appealing illustrations, readers gain insights into the underlying stories and messages conveyed by each motif.

Get the book here: Japanese Tattoos: Meanings, Shapes, and Motifs

8. Horikazu (2012)

Horikazu” by Miho Kawasaki is a captivating book that shines a spotlight on the life and work of one of Japan’s most revered tattoo artists, Horikazu. 

Through intimate storytelling and stunning visuals, the book offers a deep and personal exploration of Horikazu’s extraordinary journey as a master tattooist.

The book delves into Horikazu’s background, tracing his artistic lineage and the influences that have shaped his unique style.

Get the book here: Horikazu


What are Japanese tattoos?

Japanese tattoos are a form of body art that originated in Japan and are characterized by their intricate designs, vibrant colors, and rich symbolism. 

What is the cultural significance of Japanese tattoos?

Japanese tattoos hold deep cultural and historical significance in Japanese society. They are associated with various themes such as bravery, loyalty, spirituality, and protection. 

What are some common motifs in Japanese tattoos?

Japanese tattoos feature a wide range of motifs including dragons, koi fish, cherry blossoms, geisha, samurai, phoenixes, and waves.

Where can I purchase the book “Horikazu”?

“Horikazu” by Miho Kawasaki can be purchased from various online retailers, such as Amazon.

Do these books include English translations of the text?

Yes, these books are typically available in English translation.


Exploring the world of Japanese tattoos through literature can be an enriching and captivating experience. 

The books mentioned in this article offer a diverse range of perspectives, from historical and cultural insights to stunning visual representations of this ancient art form.

Whether you are a tattoo enthusiast, an artist seeking inspiration, or simply curious about Japanese culture, these books provide valuable resources and a gateway into the captivating world of Japanese tattooing.


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