My purpose here is to keep track of my experiences with Japanese tattoo. My perspective isn’t completely unique (many non-Japanese people have or appreciate the art), but it will be unique insofar as it is happening to me and to no one else. It is my hope that I will be able to provide not only a journal of my experience and updates on the evolution of my tattoo, but also interesting cultural anecdotes, information, or articles about this art. I will not discuss the cost and I cannot help you get a tattoo appointment. One last note, this site may be considered Not Safe for Work. You may not want to browse in places where the naked male form is considered offensive. I’m serious. You’ll see my butt.
This blog is inspired by and dedicated to Mike, a man I have never met. Mike’s blog Munewari Minutes served as a constant source of inspiration early in my tattoo journey. His blog was a touchstone for my goals and an assurance that what I wanted was worth patient pursuit.
Last night I had my very first appointment of 2019. Horizakura spent an hour drawing and about an hour tattooing a bonji inside a cave around my right knee. I am happy with the results and feel his idea of putting the bonji inside a cave is pretty unique. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen it done before. He also added water and waves at the top of my shin and the sides of my knee as well. I returned from Japan two days ago, and I have to say the exhaustion from jet lag made this harder than it needed to be. Overall, not too bad, but a good reminder of why a good night’s sleep before a tattoo is important!
Speaking of Japan, I did get to visit the Yokohama Tattoo Museum. I’m not sure that I have much more to say about it that hasn’t been said in other places around the internet. My personal favorite parts of the collection were the very old photographs of tattooed people. I really love seeing how the techniques and motifs have stayed the same or changed through the years. It sort of gives me a sense of connection to something larger than myself and this personal experience. There are lots of pictures of the museum online, and I didn’t see any signs in there saying not to take pictures, so I will add a couple of my favorites here as well. If you’re into this stuff the way I am, I highly recommend checking it out if you ever find yourself in Tokyo. Yokohama is an easy train ride and worth the time. Get some ramen too!
My trip was great but I am really glad to be home and back into my day to day. Coming home to a tattoo appointment was a great way to cap the trip off.
Take a look, in a book!
This appointment concludes my third full year of getting tattooed by Horizakura. It feels like it has been much longer than that, but I suspect that has more to do with how much has happened in my life in the last three years than it has to do with the tattoo process. If the start of this journey was a snapshot of my life at that moment in time, I am glad for the realization that things have generally only improved since. It’s been fast and furious, but it’s been good. I’m sorry I started this post with a retrospective, but you’re the one sitting there reading it so I feel like you are partly to blame. On to tattoo things!
Below are pictures from my 54th appointment with Horizakura. You will see he added some cherry blossoms, water, and waves around the sides and back of my knee region. After uploading the photos to my PC, I realized I forgot to take a picture from the front to show how the waves on each side sort of wrap towards each other… we’ll call that a little manufactured suspense for my next post. I did, however, have the presence of mind to take a picture of both legs to show how he designed the waves to create a natural symmetry between each leg. I am really pleased with how it looks!
Christmas is right around the corner and I will be in Japan for 10 days, so our next appointment is set for mid January. The trip is not tattoo related, but I am hoping to maybe visit the tattoo museum in Yokohama if I have time after my work is done. Perhaps I’ll have something interesting to write about here afterwards. Until then, look upon my works ye mighty, and despair.
Last night’s appointment was a quick 1 hour tebori session. Horizakura finished filling in the rocks on the back of the turtle and thickened the lines near my ankle. EZ PZ.
Next appointment is in 2 weeks and the plan is to do more outlines on my leg. Can’t come soon enough!
My most recent 2 hour appointment came with more rocks and some new plant life for my tattoo’s ecosystem. You can see the turtle is now standing on some rocks and we have some seaweed-y type plant life waving around. I love it! It may seem a little odd to love weeds so much, but with such a consistent water/cherry blossom background, I really enjoy little additions here and there to give variety. Also, if you look at my left leg in the photos below, you can see the line Horizakura drew around my ankle in order to measure the border for my right leg. I didn’t even notice it until I reviewed the pictures. I guess I forgot to scrub it off. Let’s pretend it was on purpose for a “behind the curtain” look at the process.
Horizakura and I discussed what comes next. Looks like we’ll do another bonji on my knee with some fire around it, then the head of a dragon will be on my inner thigh with its body extending up to my torso. I am beyond stoked. I am also beyond furious that I already had to cancel my next appointment because of work.
Cry havoc and let slip the turtles of war!
Forgive me father for I have sinned, it has been 1 month since my last appointment.
I had to cancel an appointment due to a work trip, but we’re back baby! Hopefully no more cancellations, but due to the nature of my work, it does happen. During this appointment Horizakura spent 2 hours thickening the lines all around the rocks on the turtles back (compare them to the weight of the other lines to see how they started) and then filled in with some shading. Not much else to say here. Back of the calf is EZ-mode as tattoos go. The plan is to continue with the outline on the next appointment.
Exciting results from my 50th appointment! Horizakura began outlining my right leg! “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!” For my right calf, he drew up a Dragon Turtle. You can see the shell of the turtle is covered in rocks and plants, and of course he has a dragon’s head. You may also notice that the poor guy is an amputee. I’m pretty sure Horizakura is going to add the fourth leg later on, or perhaps it will be covered by water or waves. We’ll see! I’m really jazzed up on this design though. It has kind of a hard or rigid look to it compared to the goldfish on my left leg. As for the rest of my right leg, Horizakura has a couple different ideas but still hasn’t decided on the layout. There is a possibility that whatever is on my right thigh will be an extension of the dragon he wants to put on my torso. Or maybe there will be something else altogether up there. Either way, I’m just happy to be here.
As my most recent post was more about “playing catch up” with my progress, here is the most recent work from my 49th appointment with Horizakura. The primary focus here was the back of my knee. I think about a third of this was already done on appointment 43. As I said in that post, the back of the knee was not as bad as I was hyping myself up for it to be. This whole appointment was pretty easy breezy. You will notice in the picture of the inside of my leg, the only unshaded portion left is that wave under the Koi’s chin (do fish have chins?). I am not sure if my appointment this Tuesday will be shading that or if Horizakura will begin outlining my right leg. Either way, I’m super pumped!
We have started talking about the content for my right leg, but considering we live in a culture of immediate gratification, I’m going to make you wait. HA! Check back in a week.
Without further ado…