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 (we finally 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.
Your blog is great! Always been curious what this process is like. It’s crazy to see it’s been 10 years and counting. One thing I was looking to get some insight on is the initial conception process. For instance did you tell Shinji you want a dragon? or did he decide that? How much say do you have in what is included in the tattoo?
Looking forward to more updates!
Thanks for commenting! Glad you like it.
So the actual concept was the result of a couple different factors. When I was 21 and first conceptualized what I wanted for my sleeve, I also inadvertently picked the setting and season of the tattoo. It also narrowed down the possible themes for the whole tattoo. Its also worth mentioning that when I was 21, I didn’t realize I would start going for a body suit. So I told Horishun what I wanted for my sleeve, and he executed that vision without really going over the implications for future work, because he didn’t know what my future plans were.
Once I was ready to start my back, I had sort of changed my thoughts from getting a dragon to getting an octopus and ryugyo fighting. Horizakura explained that that back piece wouldn’t make sense because octopus are from the ocean and my sleeve is freshwater. So my whole body would have to be freshwater. Horizakura suggested the dragon, which I was ok with, but expressed concern that there are lots of dragon backpiece and I would like something a little different. That was when he suggested a winged dragon which I was happy with.
Besides the backpiece, he would never tattoo something I said I didn’t want. But since he is an expert in the content and themes and rules of Japanese tattoo, I have to put my faith in him since he knows what’s best. I often makes suggestions of subject matter that I would like and he either tells me it won’t work or says that we can pursue the idea. Horizakura was very firm about my left leg being all koi and goldfish since the backpiece includes a koi. I initially wanted all kinds of amphibians and reptiles worked into it, but he said I would look like a zoo. I love zoos, but I guess it isn’t a great look for a traditional tattoo. I’m really happy with where things are, and even more excited for where they are going. Thanks again for commenting!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for sharing. It’s progressing fantastically. I have been researching for the past couple of months the possibility of getting a traditional tebori piece. I live in NYC and was having some trouble finding places that do this. I read that Horizakura is no longer at NY adorned, is that so? I am sure there is a waiting list but I am in no rush, good things take time (you are 10 years and counting!) and I am prepared to wait patiently.
How can I get in touch with him? Is it OK to ask for a consultation?
Unfortunately, I am not able to give out Horizakura’s contact info. After all these years, I still don’t have his email address as we only communicate by text. Sorry that I can’t really help in that way. If you are dead set on him, your best bet is to find him at a convention and meet him in person. If you are still open to other artists, I recommend checking out Invisible NYC owned by Troy Denning or Monji at Flyrite Tattoo. Good luck!
Thanks! I understand completely. I will keep researching. Monji’s work looks good.
Thanks for sharing your journey. To be able to scroll trough the whole process is breathtaking.
The description how the fresh water of your initial sleeve influences the design of your suit is interesting.
Were you aware of this when you started with the sleeve?
I’m kind of in the same process now that work on my second sleeve has started. Toying with the idea of a suit has become seriously contemplating.
Reading your blog has made me really curious how far reaching my (uneducated) choices of over a decade a go wil influence this.
Do you ever discuss how many hours of work are left?
Looking forward to the rest of the process.
Thanks René! To be 100% honest, I wasn’t really aware of how much of an impact the choices for my half sleeve would be. I was 21 years old when I started my half sleeve and at the time (2007) it was really difficult to find information about Japanese tattoo online. It was nothing like the wealth of information that is available now. That being said, I do sort of believe that your tattoo chooses you, and so I am of course delighted to have what I have. I also didn’t know that I was going to be getting a body suit at the time. I was 21 and really thought I was just going to get two halfsleeves and move on to different tattoo styles. Horizakura and I have not discussed how many hours are remaining. I think we’re a little more than halfway done. So maybe another 100 hours. Thanks for reading!
Nice work on the site, and thanks for the kind words. Much love to my extended tattoo fam! 🙏🏻
Haha thanks man! I didn’t know that insta account was gonna out me! 🤣 Thanks for checking it out man. The truth is, I would keep doing it even if nobody read it. There have been a handful of times where I have to go back and read about my own appointments!
Found your blog by mistake while browsing and I just love it! Keep up the nice work. Im in the process of learning about irezumi as I want to get some myself. Im gonna start way smaller than you though lol. Im set on a thigh piece for start.
Looking forward to seeing some colour on your pieces!