A Declaration of Intent

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.  Before proceeding, please note:

1) This site may be considered Not Safe for Work.  You can expect pictures of my butt and (mostly covered) crotch region.

2) The only photo adjustments I make are for white balance and exposure.  Contrast, black/white, and saturation levels are never adjusted in an effort make as accurate a representation of the work as possible.

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.

Marching Onward

Titling these blog posts is really difficult for the appointments that are “average.” I can either get really esoteric with the titles or be very scientific and just give them a number. The truth is that none of these appointments are ever average. Even if it’s a quiet two hours where we just focus on the tattooing and don’t chat too much, I have to remind myself how fortunate I am to be in these appointments at all. Not even just that I was able find my way to Horizakura, but that I am able to afford the time and money to get tattooed at all is something to be thankful for. There are lots and lots of people that want to do what I am doing but the financial burden or commitment is just too much at this point in their lives. I think it’s important to remember to be thankful for the opportunity, especially on these “run of the mill” days.

If that lead in didn’t make it clear, appointment 116 with Horizakura was a quiet two hours of tebori on my left shoulder/triceps/armpit area. If you examine the pictures, you’ll see that there are only a few small bits of cloud that are remaining to be shaded on my shoulder. You can also see a line with no shading that completes the area that surrounds my armpit. I’m not sure if Horizakura plans to leave this line as is or if he will add some shading there to bulk out that shape. Otherwise, we’re just about buttoned up with all the shading on my back and left arm. There is a small area yet to be shaded on my chest and another empty wind bar on my stomach, but after that we will need to go back to outlining. I absolutely prefer tebori shading to machine outlining, but even still I’m very excited to be so close to finishing the outline.

Until next time!

First Appointment of 2023

At the time of writing, we are two weeks into 2023 already, so it is technically against my principles to wish you a Happy New year. However, since I didn’t have anything to post closer to the New Year, I’m going to make a small exception and wish you a Happy New Year! My first appointment with Horizakura in 2023 (my 115th appointment) was two hours of tebori on my inner arm and tricep. Record Scratch

When I finished that sentence, WordPress’ spell check told me that tricep is not a word. I immediately flew to google to learn more: “…the triceps brachii is commonly called the triceps. Historically, the plural form of triceps was tricipites, a form not in general use today; instead, triceps is both singular and plural.” Interestingly enough, the spell checker is also flagging the word “tricipites” so I have not only learned a new word, I have also learned that I need to be skeptical of WordPress’ Spell check. This concludes my lexical diversion.

Overall this area was pretty easy. The hardest part is that my left shoulder is a little tight and not as flexible as my right shoulder. There was a little bit of awkward positioning to reach some spots, but not too bad.

I brought Horizakura a copy of “The Tattoo Writer” by Pascal Bagot as a late Christmas present. The only reason I even feel the need to mention this is because I never mentioned the book here previously. I am hoping to do more “Not a Book Review” reviews in the future. In the meantime, I wanted to give the book a little shine as Pascal put a ton of work into it and the context of the project is really fascinating and important to the history of Japanese tattooing. The first edition is totally sold out, but if you visit this site you can send an email to express your interest in a second printing.

I’ve got nothing left to say.

Below are some photos from “The Tattoo Writer” website. Be sure to check it out!

2022 Wrap Up

Since my last appointment of 2022 would have fallen on Christmas Day (and because I would like to stay married) I cancelled that appointment. As such, I thought now would be a good time to do a little photo dump of the whole bodysuit as it stands at the end of December 2022. This year we had 16 appointments that netted about 26 hours of tattooing. This is the most productive year we have had since 2018 (26 hours of tattooing over 15 appointments). I am absolutely thrilled to be getting more than 15 appointments in per year. I would love to be able to hit 20 appointments in a year next year!

Before we get to the photos, I would like to take one last moment to thank Horizakura, Monji, and Haru for the hard work and contributions they have made to my tattoo. It’s easy to forget how lucky I am to be able to actively pursue this bodysuit. I would like to thank you all (there are dozens of us! dozens!) for the time you spend reading my blog or interacting with me on Reddit or Instagram. I’m grateful for all of your kindness and for having people along for the ride with me. This blog and talking to all of you has been a great way to fill in the time when I haven’t been able to get tattooed or if I’m simply in between appointments. Lastly, I want to thank my wife for her continued patience with me while I chase this dream. I was really scared about how the addition of a baby would impact the already perilous juggling act of my work, house, and marriage. It seems as if my fears were largely unfounded as, while babies certainly are expensive, we have been finding a way to make it work. That is in no small part because of my wife’s efforts.

Enough of that. Have a look.

I Would Be a Terrible Journalist

For the second time in only a couple months, I forgot to take pictures after an appointment. Clearly the fast and furious pace of getting tattooed every two weeks is just too much for me to handle. A two week deadline to take some pictures and vomit some nonsense onto the internet and I can’t manage it. I would never make it as a journalist.

I forgot to take pictures and update this blog after Session 113. Just like the last time this happened, the work done during appointment 114 built off of the work from 113, so it would be a bit unclear to just update with current photos. Fortunately, I did happen to take a quick selfie with my phone after session 113, so we are not totally screwed. You can see in the photo below that Horizakura spent about two hours thickening lines and shading the rocks and clouds on my inner left bicep. Overall a pretty easy appointment so there isn’t much to say about it.

Session 114 was two more hours of tebori on the same arm. He was able to finish half of the armpit cut out as well as some of the clouds in the transition onto my chest. The chest has connected to the ribs too. The area above the armpit is one of the only places I don’t dry heal. Using Aquaphor to help keep the skin a little hydrated and flexible goes a long way in not allowing the area to get irritated. It’s especially problematic if you are active in your day to day life. Some background and clouds above Fudo’s head were also shaded. I realized after the fact that I didn’t get a very good picture of that area, but I’m sure you’ll be able to see it in a future update. The last area he worked on was a solitary little wave in my elbow ditch. If you look carefully at the pictures, you can see which parts are still healing. That’s about all there is to say for these appointments. We will be skipping our next appointment as it lands on Christmas Day, so 114 is also my final appointment of 2022.

Wherein I Borrow from Lewis Carroll

After my last appointment with Horizakura, I had expected that we would be continuing to outline the last areas of my chest. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have found the chest to be deeply unpleasant. I was not at all looking forward to it. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday morning giving myself tough-guy pep talks. Upon arriving at the studio, I noticed Horizakura had his tray set up for tebori. O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! No outlines for me! I know procrastination is bad, but I don’t care what you say, I was happy for the chest outline to be Future Jordan’s problem.

My 112th appointment was 2 hours of tebori on my left elbow/inner bicep. Easy, breezy, beautiful. We spent some time discussing travel plans and general life stuff. All in all, it was a great appointment. I can’t say enough how happy I am that we switched to Sunday appointments. I definitely miss seeing Monji and Haru at my Tuesday appointments, but the whole process feels much more relaxed not having to plan around my work schedule. The lower stress and infrequent cancellations have really enhanced the tattoo process for me; I’m finding that I enjoy it even more than I used to. If you had asked me a year ago, I wouldn’t have thought that could be possible.

Can anybody tell me if I used that semicolon correctly? I was feeling very cocky when I used it but now I’m having some doubts.

We Return to Outlining

My 111th appointment with Horizakura was about 1.5 hours of outlining on my inner bicep and chest. Not a whole lot to say here, the pictures speak for themselves. I think the chest is probably one of the worst areas for me… especially as he get close to the nipple. There was a moment when he was tattooing my pec where I actually started to laugh because I couldn’t believe just how much it hurt. Certainly not unbearable, but boy oh boy am I not looking forward to our next appointment.

Speaking of my next appointment, the thought is perhaps another bonji and some cherry blossoms will finish the outline of my torso. I can’t believe how close we are to being done with the outline. Maybe only a few appointments left. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to finish the outline of my right forearm until I have a very, very minor surgery to remove a cyst. I could leave it but it annoys the piss out of me and I don’t want to get tattooed there and THEN decide it has to go. I really wish I could just find somebody in a back alley somewhere that will stab the damn thing and be done with it. I tried to convince the dermatologist to do it and she wouldn’t go for it. Hopefully I can get it taken care of soon so we can actually finish off the outline of the whole suit.

The only other item of note before it’s on to the pictures is that Horizakura shaved about 45% of my chest while he was planning out what and where he would tattoo me during this appointment. After I cleaned up this morning, I took a look in the mirror and realized I looked totally ridiculous with a half-shaved chest. As any reasonable person might do, I decided to go scorched earth on my whole torso. As I finish typing that, I wonder if this is actually even an item of note. Do I actually think anybody cares about the landscape of my chest hair? Would anybody have even noticed if I hadn’t said anything? You will never get back the time you just wasted reading this paragraph. For that, I apologize.

To the photos!

I dun goofed.

I don’t know how or why this happened, but I forgot to update this blog after my second to last appointment. Things have been a little busy at work, but that’s rarely gotten in the way in the past. Even then, when I forget to post I usually have at least taken photos. After my 109th appointment, the only photo I took was a quick selfie while I was in my office. I’m not in the habit of posting photos like that here, but it’s all we have to mark that session’s progress. On the rare occasion that this has happened in the past, I’ve also gotten lucky and Horizakura worked on a different part of the tattoo so I was easily able to capture update photos of both areas after the fact. That was not the case here as both appointments were working on the left side of my torso. Fortunately, this isn’t really all that complicated and you should be able to tell from what photos we do have what was done during each appointment. It’s certainly not a big enough deal for me to have written as much as I already have about it… yet here we are.

Appointments 109 and 110 were each two hours long which, after some very complicated math, totals 4 hours of tebori on my left side. Horizakura shaded portions of the armpit, ribs, hip, and even a couple bars on my stomach that were unfinished. The Sunday appointments have been a real bummer for my football watching, but in virtually every other aspect they are a huge win. This is something like 4 – 5 appointments in a row now, while still maintaining a fairly busy work schedule (including gigs on Tuesday that definitely would have resulted in a cancellation or two). I’ve also found that moving my appointments to noon, which is generally when my energy levels peak, has made the tattooing easier to endure as well. The ribs are generally known to be one of the tougher areas to have tattooed, but I have to say that I haven’t found them to be much of a struggle during these short, midday sessions. This reinforces what many people will tell you: how you treat your body before an appointment really does make a difference when getting tattooed.

A Chapter Ends

Let’s try not to get too excited here, but I was finally able to make two appointments in a row without a cancellation. I wish that wasn’t something worth celebrating, but with the way my schedule has been lately, it is. My 108th appointment with Horizakura was an hour of shading on my right ribs. Overall an endurable appointment and I felt good for the duration. I still had issues getting into the city in a timely fashion. I spent the bulk of my blind-rage commute considering why this could be and I believe the answer is noobs. I’m so used to driving in the city during business hours when the bulk of the traffic is other people who are used to working and driving in the New York City. On a Sunday, the roads are filled-to-bursting with morons who have no idea what they’re doing or where they’re going. They don’t follow any of the unwritten rules of highly aggressive New York City traffic and the result is a slow, grinding chaos. I spent so much time driving in and out of the city under those conditions on Sunday that I feel like I could probably write a dissertation on it. This platform isn’t the place for that, but you can tell that I’m having a difficult time stopping myself.

Though my tattoo appointment may have been bookended with significant (suppressed) road rage, the appointment itself was a little bit sad. Upon entering the studio, I found that Horizakura had cleared out most of the art, photos, books, and furniture in the space as he has begun to move his studio to a new location. I’m sure many of you know how private he is which is why I haven’t really mentioned anything about it here, but at this point it’s so integral to my experience that this blog would be incomplete and inaccurate if I didn’t mention it. He has been planning to move for a few months now and I knew we were getting close, but walking into the studio and seeing it that way made it very real to me. I didn’t expect to feel the way I did about him moving, but up to now, my entire experience has been in that space. I’m not the type of person to shy away from change, in fact one of the things I love so much about getting tattooed regularly is that my body is constantly changing, but the realization that this would be my last appointment on the Lower East Side filled me with nostalgia for it all. Thinking of the restaurants that have come and gone, the route I used to take, my incredibly lucky streak of awesome parking spots right in front of the studio, and every moment of non-tattoo time spent inside that quiet, cozy room makes the excitement of change bitter sweet. Nonetheless, as this chapter comes to a close I find myself eager for my next appointment in the new studio and to begin a new chapter in my tattoo experience with Horizakura.

New haircut not pictured.

Sunday Traffic

I’m still getting used to having tattoo appointments on Sundays. This was only my second time having a Sunday appointment. Unfortunately, I had to cancel my previous appointment because my wife, son, and I all got Covid. Everybody is in good health now though, and I’m am thrilled to be back at it. Getting used to commuting into the city on a Sunday is a little tricky though. The commute from my office was always pretty fast so getting to the studio from home needs a little more flexibility for traffic. I ended up being a few minutes late for my 107th appointment with Horizakura. Fortunately, tebori was on the docket for this appointment so we didn’t lose out on any drawing time like we would if this was an outline session. For a little less than two hours, Horizakura shaded swirling wind on my left side. Overall, this session was pretty easy for me and (being well fed and well rested) I sat way better than I did for my last appointment. It was a really nice session, especially the couple times the record Shinji was playing ended and there was just some light street noise and the shakki of tebori. It was very peaceful.

I’m not sure that I have anything else to say here… We discussed Horizakura’s plan to move his studio and some of the details that are involved with that process. He also gifted me two really nice prints from a couple of tattoo artists, though I will not be posting them here as I prefer to keep them private. At least for now.

I still need a haircut.

Included this picture of me stretching my arm up just because I thought it was interesting how the tattoo moves and changes shape as I stretch.

Sunday Bloody Sunday

It has been two months since I’ve had a tattoo appointment, which is just way too long. Mostly work has been getting in the way a lot, but Horizakura also had a personal matter to attend to that resulted in a cancellation. Scheduling my normal Tuesday tattoo appointments around work has always been a bit of a challenge because I don’t always work a standard 9-5 day. I have always thought that I might be able to be more consistent with my appointments if I got tattooed on a weekend day since I have to work weekends less frequently. Imagine my joy when I learned from a fellow Horizakura client that he would be wrapping up his bodysuit and his typical appointment on Sunday afternoons might be opening up! I had casually broached the subject with Horizakura shortly after the art exhibition opened and he seemed receptive to the idea. A couple months later and it finally got scheduled. This was my first Sunday tattoo appointment. Tattoo Tuesdays are no more. <Moment of silence>

Not having to rush into the city after work was really nice, even though I hit way more traffic on a Sunday than I expected. I had worked a 15ish hour day on Saturday and didn’t get much sleep, so I was a little beat up going into this appointment. I sat like shit. The pain of this appointment (two hours of tebori) was not bad, I just couldn’t seem to get comfortable and relax into it like I normally would. Hopefully that won’t be a recurring issue going forward though. As far as the actual subject of the day, Horizakura shaded some swirling wind bars on my left shoulder and neckline. I think I’ve said this before, but I really do enjoy seeing how the background shading (especially at an end point like the neck or ankle) frames out the tattoo. It feels like it allows me to see the structure of the whole suit and it gets me excited for where we are going.

I am really hopeful that the Sunday appointments will work out better for everyone. I am especially sad that I will not be seeing Monji as frequently (he isn’t in on Sundays), but it’s a sacrifice I have to make in the name of progress!

I need a haircut.