Traditional Japanese tattoo art, known as irezumi, is created by repeatedly stabbing a “brush” of needles into the skin, as shown in this video. The artist repeatedly stabs the brush into the client’s skin to create the design, in this case a large koi fish. As you can see in this video, building up a rich shade of tattoo ink in the skin requires time, finesse and patience. The tattoo artist must color over the same area several times to create a darker shade. The hand-poked tattoo method can be very painful and time-consuming for the client.
Irezumi is traditionally practiced by Japanese criminals, especially the yakuza gang members. You can read more about the tradition of hand-poked tattoos in the yakuza gangs in Yakuza Tattoos: Japanese Gang Members wear the Culture of Crime