Text: Noah Oskow “Hajichi: the Banned Traditional Tattoos of Okinawa”Unseen Japan. https://unseenjapan.com/hajichi-the-banned-traditional-tattoos-of-okinawa/

Excerpt from the above article:

“I actually learned about hajichi before I began my work in body art,” the Okinawa native told Unseen Japan in a recent interview. “It was around 2012, and I was working as an occupational therapist at a hospital. I had an older patient, near 100 years old, and a small portion of a tattoo was still visible on her arm. That’s when I first became aware of hajichi.” 

Faded ink on the arm of an elder; this is how Mim, born and raised in Okinawa, first met with a traditional Okinawan practice once widespread across the islands of the long-vanished kingdom that now make up her prefecture – Ryukyu. Just more than a century previous, these tattoos – small crosses, dots, sauwastikas, and other minimalistic designs – graced the hands of women from Yaeyama in the south to Amami in the north. 

Then, in 1899, the modernizing Meiji government of Japan, having recently incorporated Okinawa into its polity, banned hajichi tattoos as part of an overall attempt to quash “backwards” Okinawan culture.The hand markings, once ubiquitous, slowly dissapeared. Now, even someone like Mim, only some generations separated from her ancestors on Miyakojima, was able to reach adulthood without ever learning of the old tradition.

However, things are starting to change.”

The article on Okinawan tattoos shows elements of direct (and indirect) knowledge. The article includes information about an Okinawan tattoo artist (Mim) whose knowledge of traditional tattoos could easily fit into the “direct” category. The article also includes a lot of historical information about the tattoos and Okinawa’s relationship with the rest of Japan. This elements of the text focuses less on direct knowledge.