The word "Mikiri" in tattooing is derived from a technical term used in the construction industry to refer to the ends of the finishes and their shape and placement in architecture.
A tattoos Mikiri is the shape of the border between the Gakubori and the non tattooed skin . If you don't know what Gakubori is, please check our previous post.
There are several types of Mikiri: Botan Mikiri, Bukkiri, Matsuba mikiri, Jari mikiri, and Akebono Mikiri. Currently, Botan Mikiri and Bukkiri are the most common types. Basically Bukkiri is used for arms and legs, Botan mikiri is used for other parts of the body but this choice depends on the tattoo artist and their Ichimon(tattoo family). The name and shape of the Mikiri varies from Ichimon to tattoo artist.
When applying Mikiri, we must consider the design of the Gakubori, the size of the body, and the curvature of the body.The quality of the overall tattoo work is greatly affected by the quality of the Mikiri. It is easy to understand if you think of it as the decorative frame of a painting.
In the past, we could recognize which tattoo artist belonged to which Ichimon by the shape of the Mikiri or design of the Gakubori. In this we could see the individuality and the talent of each tattoo artist.
The shape of the Mikiri is a result of years of trial and error by each tattoo artist and their respective tattoo family.
However now, with the spread of the Internet, more and more tattoo artists are copying other Ichimon's tattoo styles without permission, which is a shame as each Ichimon and artist hold these designs dear. It is part of their tradition and personal identity.