FEMALE and TAKEN --- Another Mustachioed Ainu Babe in OLD JAPAN

While walking the length of Tokaido

I somehow wound up in Hokkaido.

I said "How did you do"

Then kissed her Tattoo.

Now ? Three kids, and a doggy named Fido.


An Ainu babe named Baboo

Had a handle-bar mustache tattoo.

It hurt when she kissed

But I had to insist

That it pained me to pucker up, too.


Circa 1910 Collotype Postcard.





  • Latoia Patton 6y

    her mustache is a bit low. its more like. . .weird lipstick
  • Thomas V. 6y

    these picture are so rare, thanks for sharing.

    Seen on your photo stream. (?)
  • • Charl Malan • 6y

  • songbird516 6y

    can you explain more about this? did the women generally wear these mustaches?
  • Okinawa Soba (Rob) 6y

    Hi Songbird ! Do you mean to tell me that my limericks were not enough ?

    Ok. I'm not hurt (...sniff...)

    Try this :


    Yes, generally and universally, the Ainu women wore the "mustache tattoos".

    Although not all films would pick it up clearly, perhaps you can detect some more amongst the women seen in my AINU set.

    Use the ALL SIZES button, and you will see quite a few from photo to photo.

    ALSO, tons of great pics here : images.google.com/images?q=ainu+tattoo
  • songbird516 6y

    That's really interesting. I guess the Japanese did a similar thing to what the English settlers did to the Native Americans- just acted like there was no one on the land, called them barbarians, and pushed them off to some small settlement?
  • Okinawa Soba (Rob) 6y

    Exactly. And like the Europeans did to the Native Americans, the Japanese originally fought with the Ainu, and killed off a lot of them, leaving only the small remnant in Hokkaido.

    Here's a nice one : media.photobucket.com/image/ainu tattoo/Auroraplasticmonster/ainu_tattooed_moustache.jpg
  • Eileen 姿勻 Mao 6y

    a tattoo? i thought it was just something painted on. a rather odd choice. however, rly creative and RAD indeed
  • Okinawa Soba (Rob) 6y

    Nope. Not painted on. Tattooed under the skin by puncture and cutting techniques. Pain and Blood were involved.
  • Valentina 5y

    Beautiful picture and subject.
    Ainu female used to tattoo their upper lips and sometimes, their arms. The lips had to be tattoed when reaching puberty. It was rarely done in a day, the tecnique of tattooing usually took up to one month to be finished, in order to let the wound heal up. Daughters of village chieves usually took lesser time to give good example to all the other girls.
    During the execution of a tattoo, the women had to abide to some rules, like eating only vegetables and drinking oftenly. This was in truth done because it was believed it helped wounds healing sooner.
    The tradition of the tattoo has a long history in ancient Ainu customs. Apparently, before 500 b.C. or so Japaneses from the main island used to tattoo their bodies as well.
    However, it was commonly believed that tattoed lips made Ainu women more attractive and those who refrained from doing so running away from it were banished from the village. The point actually was, "How are you supposed to bear child labours if you can't even bear a needle puncture?"
    I'm sorry for the extensive comment and the weird English. I simply love Ainu culture and tradition. :)
  • Okinawa Soba (Rob) 5y

    FATINA PHARLEN --- Wow, that was a great comment. You certainly know more about this specific lip-tattooing thing than I do. Thanks for the interesting information. I have many more old Ainu photos that I hope to post someday.

    One time, I hung out with a group of nearly pure-blooded Ainu who were visiting Okinawa from Hokkaido. They were all in blue jeans and T-shirts....and no lip tattoos ! ;-)

    In spite of the old cultural folk-reasoning of "...How are you supposed to bear child labours if you can't even bear a needle puncture?....", I personally feel that parents should not be doing decorative tattooing or body piercing of their kids. Let the kids decide what they want when they become adults.

    In any case, forced or not (and all reasons aside), once the deed was done, and the lips were tattooed, it certainly did not detract from any natural beauty that was underneath. Bone structure and eyes are everything ! ;-)

    SNIDELY WHIPLASH'S LONG LOST DAUGHTER --- One of the Last of the Mustashioed Ainu Beauties of OLD JAPAN by Okinawa Soba (Rob)
  • Valentina 5y

    Wow you're perfectly right :) I really love your insight about this, heheh.
    Yes, unfortunately this custom has died out now, so you don't see women with tattoed lips anywhere anymore. That's too bad, painful or not, it's still part of a culture.
    I am pretty keen on some aspects of Ainu life because I've always been in love with this folk (in fact my college thesis was on Ainu lecterature in modern Japan), and lately I'm growing more and more fond of Ryuukyuu Islands traditions. I'm reading a book about Okinawans in Hawaii right now. :)
    Anyways, if you wish to know further about the ancient Ainu customs, I recommend you "Ainu Minzoku" by Honda Katsuichi, studies by Mr. Munro or any book from Kayano Shigeru. :)
  • Okinawa Soba (Rob) 5y

    FATINA --- Thanks for the book refernces. There are a lot more people reading these comments than just you and me, so information like this will be very helpful to those wanting to read more about the Ainu. Thanks again for posting...and...have fun with your dolls !!! ;-)
  • Phoebe Baker 4y

    It makes her look powerful, and does not detract from her beauty in any way, in my opinion. Beautiful photo.
  • Okinawa Soba (Rob) 4y

    I agree. Now, if it was a REAL mustache, it might be a different story ! ;-)
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