From July 1 to December 3, 2023

The art of Japanese Tattoo is considered one of the world’s finest body adornments. Before popular acceptance, the practice had its roots in the Edo period (1603-1868) with oath tattoos made for love and with the infamous marking of criminals. The path towards extremely elaborate ornamentation covering large parts of the body remains unknown to the public. 

For two and a half centuries, this evolution was nourished by the cultural life of the ukiyo, this “floating world” in full effervescence despite the censorship imposed by the Tokugawa shogunate.

Support for silent protest, the body became a means of expressing strength and courage for the common people. This social phenomenon became part of the culture of Kabuki theatre, woodprints and books, then passed from light to relative shadow with the prohibition of 1872 thus erasing parts of this memory.

After the end of the prohibition in 1948, especially during the 1960s, the cinema seized on this heritage and associated its image with the yakuza criminal groups that engraving, photography and manga perpetuated. In Japan, this lasting representation fuels the negative perception of tattooing and further limits free access to certain public places.

This exhibition retraces more than three hundred years of history of this ephemeral art, which only lasts a lifetime, whose codes of yesterday inspire those of today. It questions our gaze on the commitment that such an approach requires and on the social identity of the people who mark their bodies.

Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900) Actors Bando Hikosaburo V, Kawarasaki Gonjuro I, and Nakamura Shikan IV (from right to left), from the series "Flowers of Edo: Five Young Men,"


Edo Period (1603-1868), 1864

Polychrome woodblock print on paper

©Xavier Durand Collection


Workshop “Tattoo-lino”

This exhibition explores the link between woodprints and Japanese tattoos. During this workshop, the participants will learn the technique of linocut to create traditional tattoo designs, to be printed on your skin!

Dates :

  • Wednesday 19 July at 2.30 p.m.
  • Friday 28 July at 2.30 p.m.
  • Wednesday 9 August at 2.30 p.m.
  • Wednesday 30 August at 2.30 p.m.

Price : 10€/ 5€

Reservation : Atelier "Tattoo-lino" (



During this bodypainting demonstration, the artist François Rose will create a temporary artwork inspired by traditional Japanese tattoos. Iconic motifs such as dragons, cherry blossoms, and koi fish will come to life on the model's skin, providing visitors with an understanding and visualization of this ancient Japanese art.

Date :

  • Saturday 16 September from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Free access


Ink Ceremony by David Cardoso

David Cardoso, who has received training from the esteemed Japanese master Honda, is specialized in the art of traditional Japanese tattoos. In this special event, he will showcase his expertise through an Ink Ceremony, followed by an interactive discussion session with the audience.

Date :

  • Saturday 28 October at 11 a.m.

Price : 10€/ 5€

Reservation : Tatouages du monde flottant - Département des Alpes-Maritimes (