Horimono (彫り物, 彫物, literally carving, engraving) is a word used to describe irezumi (Japanese Tattooing ) or to describe the carving of images into a sword blade.
As the power of the common people of Japan grew in the latter half of the Edo period (18th and 19th century CE) horimono, or traditional Japanese tattoos, began to flourish as an art form. Based on images from watercolour paintings, woodcuts and popular picture books of the time, the ultimate reward for the long endurance of pain would be a tattoo of immense beauty. To fully understand Japanese horimono it is important to understand their history and background, and it is equally important to continue to preserve the tradition behind them.
The Japanese word irezumi (入れ墨, 入墨, 文身, 剳青, 黥 or 刺青) refers to the insertion of ink under the skin to leave a permanent mark, in other words, tattooing. The term irezumi traditionally refers to marks made to indicate a convicted criminal. Such marks are not the skillful designs known as the Japanese style tattoo, so while both terms are often used interchangeably, horimono is generally considered the more polite term.