Monmon Cat Tattoos:

Monmon is a Japanese term for tattoo, and a monmon cat is a cat with tattoos. They were designed by Horitomo, a Japanese tattoo artist well known for his hand work (tebori) and his monmon designs. He published a book entitled Monmon Cats and has inspired other tattoo artists around the world.

cat Amber Bananafish at Bananafish Tattoo Parlour
Sassy looking cat with skeletons by Amber Bananafish at Bananafish Tattoo Parlour.

Monmon cats are usually done in traditional Japanese style, and usually have their own Japanese tattoos. They can also be done realistically, in black and grey, and have other tattoos such as American traditional, flowers, and skulls.

cat Ash Valentine
Realistic cat with rose by Ash Valentine.
cat by Simina at Old Bastards Tattoo Shop in Romania
Samurai cat by Simina at Old Bastards Tattoo Shop in Romania.
cat Heather Sinn at Tattoo Room in Simi Valley CA
New school cat with geisha back piece by Heather Sinn at Tattoo Room in Simi Valley, CA.
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Matching foot monmon cats by Horitomo at State of Grace tattoo in Japantown SJ, CA.
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Another by Horitomo with American traditional tattoos.
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Stomach cat by Horitomo with peony tattoos and a fun ball of yarn.
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Full sleeve with monmon cat also by Horitomo.
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More matching monmon by Horitomo with mean looking Oni!
cat Jason Rose
Monmon cat doing its own tebori tattooing by Jason Rose.
cat Jamie Negro at Behardcore Tattoo
Large monmon with koi fish and cherry blossoms by Jamie Negro at Be Hardcore Tattoo.
cat Kika Blunt
Monmon with waves by Kika Blunt.
cat Luana Cavalcoli
Monmon with cloud and wind designs and cherry blossoms by Luana Cavalcoli.
cat Sarah Baldwin at Control Tattoo in Florida
Monmon drinking sake with a wicked dragon tattoo and flowers by Sarah Baldwin at Control Tattoo in FL.
cat Sebastian Giraldo Nieto
Cute cat with peony flower tattoos by Sebastian Giraldo Nieto.
cat Steph White at Cock A Snook Tattoo Parlour in Newcastle
Blackwork monmon cat with skull inspired by Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre by Utagawa Kuniyoshi done by Steph White at Cock A Snook Tattoo Parlour in Newcastle.

Monmon cat tattoos are a must for cat lovers!

Artist of the Month: Horiyoshi III

Horiyoshi the third (Nakano Yoshihito) is a tattoo artist from the Yokohama area of Japan. He is a legend to many in the tattoo world, as well as an intelligent, thoughtful, and charming man.

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Horiyoshi III with sword.

His interest in the art of tattoos first started when he was 11 years old after seeing a tattooed man at the public bath, and developed further when as a high school student he found a book with illustrations and engravings of tattooed men.

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A young Horiyoshi III showing off his tattoos.

At age 22 he got his first tattoo, a full back piece, from the great Horiyoshi II. He later became a pupil under Horiyoshi II at age 25, as he needed to learn more about the art in order to become a tattoo artist.

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Tattooing with a machine.

Horiyoshi III is not only an amazing artist, but has a full body suit done in traditional Japanese style, which took 12-13 years to complete. His tattooing is also large scale pieces, often full body suits, back pieces, or leg or arm sleeves.

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Body suits, finished, and unfinished.

Irezumi, or traditional Japanese tattoos are often associated with the yakuza (Japanese mafia), because members used to have intricate body suits to show their status. Horiyoshi III used to tattoo many yakuza members, back when tattooing was much less common than it is now, but says about 10% of his clients are still yakuza members. Yakuza members have actually started lasering off their tattoos, or hiding them more, as well as not encouraging new members to get visible pieces, because it is such an easy way to identify someone. Instead, Japan is slowly moving towards tattoos being more accepted and about the art again.

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Full torso irezumi.

Horiyoshi III originally learned tattooing with the tebori method, or “tebori you no nomi”, which means “the hand digging tool”. This is a tool that is shaped like a stick, with needle points at the end, which is then dipped into ink, and jabbed repeatedly into the skin. It is a much slower way of tattooing than the modern machine now, but can still create intricate and detailed pieces of art. Horiyoshi III is also skilled with the tattoo machine, which he learned how to use later in life.

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Tebori tool refined by Horiyoshi III.

Horiyoshi III says there are four steps to the perfect tattoo. The drawing, outlining, shading, and finally colour. He then compares these steps to life. He says outlining is like planning your life, clarifying your ideas. That tattooing can be compared to life because every needle stroke counts, just like every second counts. That every line must be done with care, that life must be cherished.

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Bright and colourful full body suits.
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Suits like these can take hundreds of hours, and years to complete.

What is your favorite Horiyoshi III tattoo?