The British podcast on tattoo culture Beneath the Skin took a look at Akimitsu Takagi and the book the tattoo writer.


Beneath the Skin welcomed Pascal Bagot to its latest show. The French journalist is the editor of the book of photographs of the 1950s tattoo scene taken by the Japanese writer in Tokyo. A three-microphone exchange with the podcast’s authors: Matt Lodder, an English academic renowned for his work on the history of tattooing in the UK, and Thomas O’Mahony.

The Tattoo Murder, first best-selling book

For this podcast, the guests look back at Akimitsu Takagi‘s first book. A seminal work that marked a real turning point in the author’s life. Published in 1948, Shisei Satsujin Jiken was an instant bestseller. On its release, the book sold tens of thousands of copies in Japan. The unemployed former engineer made a sensational entry into literature. His future opened up and he began a career as a writer of crime novels. He would go on to write a particularly prolific series of detective novels over the next 40 years, before his death in 1995.

Gateway to the world of tattooing

This crime novel takes a fresh look at tattoo culture in Japan at the time. The story takes place in a Tokyo devastated by the bombings of the Second World War. There are murders of tattooed people, an old Edo tattoo club and tattoo competitions. There’s also a collector of tattooed skins and cursed designs. Writing the book enabled Takagi to forge links with the tattoo scene of the time. A few years later, using his camera, he documented it, paving the way several decades later for the publication of the book the tattoo writer.

The Tattoo Murder in England, France and Italy

Akimitsu Takagi’s first book, originally published in 1948, was translated for the first time in England by Pushkin Press under the title The Tattoo Murder in 2022. In Italy, Il Mistero Della Donna Tatuata was published the same year by Einaudi. In France, Irezumi was published by Denoël in 2016.

You can find this interview and all the Beneath the Skin podcast programmes on the usual platforms (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, etc.).