Japan English

What is "Tebori"?

Tebori is a traditional technique used to ink tattoos into the skin and was the most commonplace tattooing method in Japan before the introduction of tattoo machine technology.

There are only a handful of tattoo artists in the world who have continued this traditional technique and they’re almost extinct. However, this does not mean that the craft itself has in any way died, and it still holds the advantage of injecting color deeper than tattoo machines, and with less fading.

In Tebori the ink is injected rhythmically into the skin using a handle with a needle on the tip. There two techniques used in this style of inking are:

Imotsuki - Where the ink is injected by inserting the needle straight in and out again.
Hanetsuki - Where the needle is held at a slant and twanged upwards to insert the ink.

These two techniques are used for different purposes such as shading, etc.

The latter "Hanetsuki" technique makes a distinct "cha-cha-cha-cha" noise every time that it twangs the skin. Although many people may believe that inking a tattoo with a long needle that makes this kind noise would be more painful than a tattoo machine, it actually causes the same amount of pain, or even less in some cases.

Tebori requires 1.5x more time than using a tattoo machine. However, the ink is injected deeper and there is much less fading than what you would get with a machine.

At Heavenly Maiden Tattoo, we:

So why not experience this Tebori tattooing technique, which is rare enough in Japan and other countries, for yourself?