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Glossary of Japanese tattooing words, terms and phrases

By Joshua Mayhem

  • Irezumi (also pronounced bunshin) -- tattoo (noun or verb)
  • Horimono (literally carving, engraving) -- tattoo. This is another word for traditional Japanese tattoos.
  • Horishi -- a tattoo artist.
  • Bokukei, bokkei -- punishment by tattooing.
  • Tebori (Literally to carve by hand) -- describes the technique of tattooing by hand.
  • Hanebori (literally to carve with a feather) -- a hand-tattooing tecnhique employing a feathering motion.
  • Tsuki-bori (-- a hand-tattooing tecnhique emplying a thrusting motion.
  • Kakushibori (literally hidden carving) -- tattooing near the armpits, the inside of the thighs and other "hidden" body areas. Also refers to the tattooing of hidden words, for example among the petals of flowers.
  • Kebori -- the tattooing of fine lines or of hair on tattooed figures.
  • Sujibori -- outlining, the outline of a tattoo.
  • Shakki -- the sound needles make when they puncture the skin.
  • Irebokuro -- from ire or ireru, which means to insert, and bokuro or hokuro, a beauty spot
  • Yobori -- "Yo" (European) tattooing. The Japanese-English slang term for tattooing done with the Machine.
  • Sumi -- The ink used to tattoo, traditionally mixed by the apprentice
  • Hikae -- Chest panel tattoo
  • Nagasode -- Arm tattoo, to the wrist
  • Shichibu -- Tattoo 7/10ths of the sleeve to the forearm
  • Gobu -- Tattoo 5/10ths of the sleeve to above the elbow