As the practice of Yakuza tattooing evolved, it became deeply integrated into the culture, playing a ceremonial and symbolic role.
Being tattooed became an initiation ritual for new members. Even today Yakuza tattoos are done by hand instead of with a motorized needle. The pain of this arduous, slow procedure is seen as a test for initiates. They are expected to show no feeling, to stoically endure the process as a sign of their courage and toughness, and willingness to sacrifice themselves. Given the size of Irezumi tattoos, sometimes covering the entire body, it can take many years to complete, and the Yakuza member's ability to handle the pain wins the respect of his fellow members.