Fukushi Masaichi

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Fukushi Masaichi
Native name 福士政一
Born January 30, 1878
Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan
Died June 3, 1956(1956-06-03) (aged 78)
Citizenship Japanese
Education Nippon Medical School
Occupation Physician, pathologist and professor
Known for Study of tattoos
Children 1

Fukushi Masaichi (福士 政一, 30 January 1878 – 3 June 1956) was a Japanese physician, pathologist and Emeritus Professor of Nippon Medical School in Tokyo. He was the founder of the world's only collection of tattoos taken from the dead.[1] Fukushi Masaichi and his son Fukushi Katsunari are known in Japan as "Irezumi Hakase" (刺青博士, approximately: "Dr. Tattoo").


Fukushi Masaichi studied at the Tokyo Imperial University Medicine. After studying in Germany, he began in 1914 at the Medical college Kanazawa University Kanazawa. He was chairman of the "Japanese Pathological Society" (日本病理学会, Nihon Byori Gakkai, lit. "The Japanese Society of Pathology"). The focus of his research was initially that syphilis caused aortitis and thyroid disease. [1] He became interested in tattoos when he noticed that the tattoo ink in the skin killed the skin lesions of syphilis. Fukushi Masaichi himself was not tattooed. [2]

His research on the subject of human skin (from 1907) brought him into contact with many people that had tattoos. He therefore became interested in 1926 in the art of Japanese tattoo (Irezumi), led autopsies on corpses, removed the skin and did research on methods to preserve the skin. [3] In the following years he collected an archive of about 2000 "hides" and 3000 photographs which were lost in 1945, during World War II.[4]

Masaichi put some of his unique collection of tattooed hides and groomed skin that had been outsourced in the early 1940s in an air raid shelter. Since they were protected from the effects of war they survived the bombings. These skins are all that remains of his collection. [5]


  1. ^ a b Hardy 1988, p. 74
  2. ^ LIFE 1950, p. 14
  3. ^ Hardy 1988, p. 75
  4. ^ Quigley 1998, p. 152
  5. ^ Beeler 2005, p. 79