It was summer when we last caught up with Taiki Masuda, a tattoo artist based out of Osaka, in episode 6 of The Tattoo Shop. While Chris Garver tattooed a wild boar on his arm, Masuda described his fight against the court for an unfair ruling. After his studio was raided in Japan, a place where tattooing continues to be illegal, Masuda was found guilty of violating medical law in late September of 2017. However, rather than pay the fine, he decided to take a stand for the art form of tattooing. Considering the cultural and historical importance of tattoos, particularly in Japanese culture, it was time that someone finally spoke out.
While tattooists the world over waited with baited breath to hear the final judgement, the 14th turned out to be a day for celebration. As Masuda and his defense lawyers reasoned, tattooing is a fine art of self expression. Considering it a medical practice is not only incorrect, it hinders artists like Masuda from doing what they love; it ties their hands and prohibits their life's calling. But the hard work of Masuda's team of lawyers, and his own determination to protect and preserve Japanese tattooing, paid off and Masuda was given the ruling of "innocent". Via Japan Times, "“The tattooing procedure is not relevant to medicine and it does not constitute a medical act controlled under the medical practitioners’ law,” said presiding Judge Masaki Nishida in handing down the ruling on tattoo artist Taiki Masuda’s case."
For tattooers, this is an incredibly exciting victory. Although societal perceptions and expectations take time to change, this is an awe inspiring turn of events that sheds a positive light on tattooing in Japan. The art of Irezumi is not only a juggernaut of influence on modern tattooing the world over, but should be considered a craft of national pride for the country. When wielded masterfully, Japanese tattooing embodies the spirit, aesthetics, legends, and history of a country that is one of the oldest on earth. Congratulations to Masuda and his team for their grand leap towards a more affirmative and free future for Japanese tattooers.