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.
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.
Below you will find photos of my white hairy man thigh. Once your eyes adjust to the glare, you will notice that the waves around the koi fish have been shaded! The other thing you might notice is a different background. In between my last post and this appointment, my wife and I bought and moved into our first house. I’m hoping to have a better lighting situation for these photos going forward, but in the meantime this office is what you get.
My last post mentioned there would be a substantial gap between posts because of some cancelled appointments. This appointment was actually from July and the large gap in appointments has passed as well. I had an appointment last night and I have another scheduled for next week (to make up for lost time), so you can expect two more posts very soon.
For session 47, Horizakura continued on his merry way up my leg shading water and waves. The longer I’m in this process, the more enjoyment I get out of seeing the background come together. It’s amazing how a dynamic background can elevate the subject matter in the foreground. If I was a more artistic person, I’m sure I would find a way to apply that.
Artistic theory aside, getting my knee tattooed was just not any fun at all. The memory of pain fades with time, but I’m pretty confident the ass hurt worse for me. Probably due to the delicate nature of the skin over my knee cap as compared to the “ample” areas of my butt. My understanding is that thicker areas require more force to saturate with color/shading. This might be specifically for tebori… I don’t know anything about applying a tattoo, so I should probably just shut up.
The good news is, my knee is done and besides for some flower petals, I won’t ever have to get tattooed there again. The bad news is, I have another knee.
Of course, no matter what, I’m stoked with the progress! This will be the last update for a few weeks since I had to cancel my next appointment for a work trip. See you in late July nerds.
I have an appointment on the books for tomorrow June 19, but due to a chaotic couple of weeks, I did not have time to update from my last appointment. This appointment was pretty chill, only 1.5 hours. It’s a little hard to tell what’s new vs. newish vs. oldish, but it’s there.
You may notice that left kneecap looking pretty roasted. That is due to driving my Jeep with no doors…. I didn’t even realize it until a few days ago when I looked at my knees side-by-side in a mirror. Whoops. Now I apply sunblock before driving, although I really do need to get on a better SPF skin care regimen.
I had an extremely busy few weeks, but we’re finally back at it. Nothing much of note here, Horizakura spent 2 hours working from my ankle to just under my knee. It’s funny that even after 45 appointments I’m still surprised how much the background changes the way the outline looks. All those lines just look like chaos until it starts getting filled in and really becomes something. The change is almost as drastic as the change from bare skin to outline is!
Also, the tripod plate for my camera was left at work, so human tripod credit goes to my loving wife Christine. My sincerest thanks for interrupting your morning routine to help out! (She demanded credit.)
I returned from a couple weeks of work travel to a very lovely surprise! My copy of “The World of Japanese Tattooing” by Iizawa Tadasu was waiting at the office! It took me a few months to get a copy of this book. I suspect it would have been much easier if I was able to search for it in Japanese, but the only online option I could find was Donlon Books in London. It cost more than I would have liked after the conversion to dollars and shipping/insurance, but I have it now and that makes me quite happy! The book is a treasure trove of classic Japanese style.
Published by Haga Shoten in 1973, the book is composed of a large number of Japanese tattoos by such masters as Horiyoshi II, Horigoro III, Horikin and more. It also includes an array of ukiyo-e prints and Japanese text that is (sadly) totally lost on me. There is a brief introduction in English that gives some very interesting insight into how Japanese tattoo and its history was viewed during the time of publication. It approaches the comparison between Japanese and Western tattoos with a pretty heavy bias, but it is a bias that no doubt existed in the late 1800s/early 1900s when cross cultural exchange of tattoo was beginning to ramp up. Having gotten the book so recently, I haven’t had time to look through all of it with very much attention to detail, but I am very excited to do so.
All in all, that special mix of consumerism and the desire to collect has made it worth the price of admission. I am quite proud to have added this book to my collection. Below are a couple pictures I took: