We're sure you've seen them...not only does this character have a long history within the performing and folk arts of Japan, but he's actually become a cemented piece within tattooing iconography. Immediately recognizable by his skewed face and his polka dot head wrap, these Hyottoko tattoos are portraits of Japan's infamous comedian. Take a trip to Japan and you'll actually see his face everywhere: on folk masks, on bar signs, on t-shirts...he's practically around every corner. An important part of tattooing, we figured we'd bring together these awesome pieces to inspire you!
So where the heck did this lil guy come from? Wiki explains, "In Iwate Prefecture, there is a myth about the origin of Hyottoko. In the story, there was a boy with a bizarre face who could create gold out of his belly button, so when someone died in a house, you would put the mask of this boy at the top of the fireplace to bring good fortune to the house. The name of the boy was Hyoutokusu (ヒョウトクス). This is considered one of the possible names that lend plausibility to the origin of Hyottoko." They go on to describe how he is actually considered to be the god of fire in some places, which explains why some of these Hyottoko tattoos have fire coming out of their mouths!
It's interesting, isn't it? Almost every culture has their own form of famous comedians. These Hyottoko tattoos show off perhaps Japans most famous, the French have Pierrot, within Chicano tattooing we have the masks that are metaphors for the balance between comedy and drama...and there are so many more. Perhaps one of the reasons why people resonate so deeply with these design icons illustrating the many faces of jesters, is that they provide levity within our reality. Sometimes life is tough, right? A little laugh here and there certainly helps.