The Tattoo Writer

The Tattoo Writer

Akimitsu TAKAGIPascal BAGOT

Publisher: Pascal Bagot

Second Edition

While researching the prolific crime fiction writer Akimitsu Takagi (1920–1995) in 2017, the French journalist Pascal Bagot made an incredible discovery. Takagi, whose 1948 debut novel “The Tattoo Murder Case” focused on a series of murders of tattooed people, was a passionate follower of post-war Tokyo’s underground tattoo scene. Unbeknownst to anyone, Takagi had left behind a treasure of trove of photographs featuring some of the most greatest tattoo artists of the time.

In “The Tattoo Writer”, Bagot makes these images available to the public for the first time. Following members of the Edo Chuyokai, the world’s perhaps oldest club of tattoo enthusiasts, we follow master tattoo artists like Horiuno II, Horiuno III, Horiyoshi II or Horigoro III as they prepare their traditional motifs and ink their subjects in barely lit rooms. Takagi’s images—many of them of tattooed women—capture the almost religious aspect and the dense atmosphere of the process, as well as the undeniable beauty of the finished tattoos.
Through painstaking research, Bagot is able to offer captions and background information for most photographs, with three in-depth essays (by Takagi’s daughter Akiko Takagi, Japanese literature professor Gerald Peloux, and Bagot himself) in the back of the book further illuminating Japan’s tattoo culture as well as Takagi’s passion and connection to the post-war Tokyo scene.

“If photography allows Takagi to satisfy his obsession for tattooing, thanks to it he also carries out a capital work of memory. Photography furthermore provides a pertinent solution to the real threat to this shadow art: oblivion. After all, how can one keep track of an art that is essentially ephemeral? Besides, without memory, what history of art? And without history, what recognition for the master tattoo artists whose works testify to an excellence comparable to that of any Japanese craftsman raised to the rank of ‘living national treasure?’”
― from the publisher’s description

Texts in English and French.


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Book Size
245 × 195 mm
200 pages
Publication Year
English, French

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