The Other Side

Tā Moko and Tebori: Exploring the Meaning of Ink in Māori and Japanese Culture

Tā moko and tebori: exploring tattoo art in Māori and Japanese culture.

by VICE Staff
16 November 2016, 12:00am

This article is presented by Steinlager Tokyo Dry, a Japanese inspired New Zealand beer. We explored the cultural similarities and differences between Japan and New Zealand in a three-part video series.

Paitangi Ostick is one of the first females to practice tā moko – the Māori art of tattoo. In this episode of The Other Side of Ink, she travels from New Zealand to Tokyo, where she meets Japanese tattoo artist Megumu Kamata to compare notes on their shared craft.

Paitangi and Megumu both have a connection to the traditional styles of their practice, but they also integrate some modern elements into their work. They bond over the mutual belief that tattooing is a privilege, not a right, and that it is an honour to be able to mark someone else's skin.

The pair explore the layered aspects of ink in Japan: the spiritual, the cultural, and the historical. They visit a shrine, where Megumu goes for inspiration; discuss the perceptions of ink in Japan and associations to the yakuza; and observe a traditional Tebori tattooist at work, whose hands-on approach and chisel work is similar to the tā moko style.

Paitangi Ostick
Ta Moko
Megumu Kamata