Tebori is the Japanese practice of tattooing by hand. It is usually performed using a rod made of either wood or metal with an array of needles on the end.

To foreigners much of Japanese culture can be seen as a compelling mix of both traditional and contemporary perspectives, values, and traditions. This is certainly the case when it comes to Japanese tattoos: currently the prevailing attitude towards tattoos in Japan is not as negative as it once was and yet the iconography, symbols, and style remain deeply rooted in Japanese religion, folklore, and art history (ukiyo-e). This attachment to traditional Japanese culture is perhaps no better represented than by the tebori (te – hand, bori – carving, inserting) style of tattooing. Although the vast majority of Japanese tattoo artists now use electric tattoo machines, there are still a great many that use both a combination of machine and tebori. The application of tebori is both a significant cultural connection to the traditional manner of tattooing in Japan and, many argue, the only true means to attain the distinct visual style associated with Japanese tattoos.

The application of tebori takes considerably more time and effort than the use of tattoo machine. It is important to keep this in mind when considering how much you are willing to invest into your artwork – both time and money.