Irezumi is the Japanese term for "inserting ink" under the skin in a decorative and permanent way.
It is possible that the Japanese have been tattooing since the Paleolithic period. There are records from China from the Yayoi period (300 B.C.-A.D. 300) of tattoos with spiritual or social status motifs.
Later, for centuries in Japan this word had a negative connotation because it was used as a form of punishment for prisoners or to identify people of low social rank. For this reason, it was rejected by tattoo artists to define their work.
During the Edo period (1600-1868) tattooing began to develop. Specifically with the rise in popularity of engravings, when the genre ukiyo-e reached its maximum expression. Tattoo artists began to use these prints made with carved wooden plates as a reference, and tattooing became a more elaborate art form. The style adopted then endures to this day.
Nowadays, the word irezumi is used to refer to any type of Japanese tattoo..