The art of the Japanese tattoo has fascinated people across the world for decades, but in Japan they are taboo since traditional full body tattoos are associated with the Japanese mafia – the Yakuza. Few organizations are as feared as the legendary Yakuza. They have an impact well beyond Japan, in real life as well as in popular fiction. Yakuza Tattoo offers a unique insight into the dragons, fish and gods that form the identity of the Yakuza. While the motifs are inspired by the structure of the organization, Japanese history and mythology, younger members tend to add a contemporary touch to their body art. Andreas Johansson is an academic and one of a small number of persons that have been allowed to photograph and interview members of one of the world’s most secretive organizations. The book includes detailed images of widely different Yakuza tattoos. At one stage, right in the middle of a gang war, Johansson frequented the shady nightclubs, bars, restaurants and back streets of Yokohama in the company of a Yakuza boss. He also visited the homes of members of the Yakuza, documenting Yakuza symbols and body art.


Andreas Johansson did what any first-rate photojournalist does – go into the field and immerse himself in the world of his subjects. Guided by the yakuza’s most famous symbol, the tattoo, Johansson offers a revelatory look inside the culture and mythology of Japan’s extraordinary underworld. Essential reading for anyone concerned with Japanese organized crime.David E. Kaplan, co-author, Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld.


Our current favourite page flicker Yakuza Tattoo combine three of our favourite subjects, by deftly covering the noble art of tattooing, the scary world of organized crime and unique ways of Japanese culture in one superb book. – Proper Magazine 


Andreas Johansson without a doubt achieved something incredible. His book too has achieved something awesome, giving a most detailed insight into a gang, that is as famous for its infamous brutality as it is for its tattoos. This book is definitely one to wish for this upcoming Christmas. – Media Zink


You can  order the book here



Exhibition at Linnéuniversitet,  Café Astrakan, Växjö. 23 March – 29 May, 2017.

Book release & exhibition at Kafé De Luxe, Växjö April 7, 2017

In Lunds universitets magasin, LUM, Fotograferade japanska maffiatatueringar, Unik inblick i japanska maffians kultur (in Swedish),  Unique glimpse into the culture of the Japanese mafia (in English)

Smålandsposten, 2 April, 2017  Andreas skildrar japanska maffians tatueringar i ny bok

Morgonpasset i P3, Sveriges Radio, 4 April, 2017 Allt om den japanska maffian

P4 Extra, Sveriges Radio, 4 April, 2017 Andreas har fotat den japanska maffians tatueringar, 6 April, 2017 Unique glimpse into world of Japanese mafia tattoos

SVT Smålandsnytt, 20 April, 2017 Andreas kom japanska maffian in på bara skinnet, 20 April, 2017 Växjöbo släpper bok om maffian

Gomorron Sverige, SVT, 21 April, 2017, SVT play

Book launch at the Centre for East and South-East Asian Studies, Lund University, 4 May 2017

Mariestadstidningen, 11 May, 2017 Maffian in på bara skinnet

Proper Magazin 23, Summer 2017, ”Murder Ink”

Allt om Stockholm, 21 August, 2017, Ställer ut unika bilder av Yakuza-tatueringar

Mitt i, 22 August, 2017, Ställer ut bilder med Yakuzans tatueringar

Kulturnyheterna, SR P1, 24 August, 2017, Fotobok ger inblick i japanska maffians kultur

Exhibition at Stockholm Ink Bash Tattoo Convention, 25-27 August, 2017

Presentation of Yakuza Tattoo at Stockholm Ink Bash Tattoo Convention, 25-26 August, 2017

Gods, Dragons and Guns: Photographing the Yakuza and Their Tattoos, the EASR Conference, Leuven, Belgium, 2017

Exhibition at Rock the Dot, Växjö, 2 October – 2017

Mötet med den Japanska maffian,  Bokmässan i Göteborg, 1 October, 2017

Gudar, Drakar och pistoler, Bokmässan i Göteborg, 1 October, 2017

Z Tattoo, 39, 2017, Boknyheter – Yakuza Tattoo

Media Zink, 8 September, Yakuza Tattoo; An Insightful Book By Andreas Johansson

Fotografen, October 2017, Intervju med Andreas Johansson

Sveriges Radio P3, PP3, 25 January 2018, Yakuza Tattoo.

Förmiddag i P4 Kronoberg. 19 April, 2018  “Yakuzan”. 

The Outsider: your average Yakuza wouldn’t recognise himself in this movie” in The Conversation. March 2018.