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More on Japanese Tattoos

I recently saw “Concerning Strange Devices from the Distant West,” a Japanese-themed play by Naomi Iizuka. The wide-ranging play involves everything from photography in Meiji-era Japan to tattoos, and the program gives ample background information about many of these themes, including the history of tattoos in Japan.


The characters 遠西奇器述 break down as distant + west + strange + device + about and don’t form a recognizable word today. Iizuka says this phrase came from the title of a Dutch trader’s book about photography in 19th-century Japan.

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