I just noticed that all the photos I’ve been posting from my camera have the metadata included. I don’t know why, but that makes me feel more vulnerable and exposed (pun!!) than showing my butt on the internet… Awkward.
Due to a work trip and a vacation, below is the only work I’ll be getting in February. Horizakura added the tail with a claw reaching out from behind down my right leg. I was well hydrated and rested for this appointment and it definitely made a difference. Not much more to tell. There will probably only be one appointment in March as well. I believe Horizakura has some travel plans during the month. Behold! (please pardon heinous lighting in my living room)
Session 5 brought more butt and leg tattooing. This session was particularly rough because I wasn’t well hydrated or well rested. I have learned that those things are a major factor in my personal ability to tolerate pain. Session 6 (which is currently healing) took place in similar areas, but I drank lots of water and got a good nights sleep beforehand and it was much, much easier to deal with.
Horizakura added a lot more around the koi on my leg and some water and crashing waves on my tush. It was unpleasant, but looking at it now, I’m certain my butt has never looked so good. Behold!
With the fourth session, Horizakura migrated south to my leg and ass. So far, getting my ass tattooed has been the least pleasant tattoo experience I have had. This seems like maybe a good time to discuss the content of my back piece. I had a couple ideas in mind for what I wanted, but was pushed in a different direction. My initial idea was to have a Ryu-gyo (a koi fish with a dragon’s head) fighting an octopus. Horizakura told me I could not get an octopus because I have a fresh water tattoo and octopus are from the sea. Furthermore, Ryu-gyo do not make for appealing backpieces as they don’t look great as a large piece. I was understanding of these points. You do not approach a person foremost in their field and tell them how to do their job. The reason I wanted Japanese tattoo to begin with is because it adheres to specific thematic elements and cohesion. I am bound by the laws of the art itself. To me, that is a crucial understanding of accepting a Japanese tattoo. Its rules are rigid and slightly inflexible, but that is what makes it what it is. Horizakura suggested a dragon should take center stage on my back and the Ryu-gyo could be on my left arm. I agreed, but asked that there be something unique about the dragon. Dragons are a fairly common theme for backpieces and I was hoping to have something a bit more unique. He thought maybe a dragon with wings would be different, and I have to say I personally have not seen many traditional Japanese tattoos that feature a dragon with wings. I suppose even in adhering to tradition, there are ways to push the envelope. Additionally, as seen below, he said there should be elements on the back of my legs to balance out the dragon. He asked to add a koi to the back of each leg and I was more than happy to consent. I love the chaotic, highly detailed nature of this style and adding additional content and forms really elevates that.
Anyway! Below is the fourth session, bringing us to the 7 hour(ish) mark.
Before we proceed, I feel that it is really important to give two people credit for helping me finish my half sleeve. My friend and colleague Carl and his wife Kyoko were instrumental in setting up my return trip to Japan. Horishun’s English has improved tremendously since my first appointment with him 8 years ago, but without Kyoko to translate our emails back and forth with each other, I’m not sure I ever would have been able to organize it. Kyoko and Carl have both become the patron saints of my tattoo. Beyond helping me organize my trip to Japan, Carl also opened the door to my first appointment with Horizakura.
In between starting my half sleeve in 2007 and finishing it in 2015, I had numerous occasions to ponder beginning work on another part of my body. I desperately wanted to continue my tattoo, but was slowed by a few factors. First and foremost, I was very aware of the unfinished tattoo on my arm. How could I even begin to ask another artist to commit to a large scale, long term tattoo project with me when I had yet to complete the first tattoo I started. The idea didn’t sit well with me. That, coupled with the fact that I had no opportunity to get an appointment with the artist I wanted, forced me to wait longer than I would have liked.
Finally, in the summer of 2015, Carl was able to personally introduce me to Horizakura at the NYC Tattoo Convention. We scheduled a time for all three of us to meet at Horizakura’s studio. This made me happier than I can possibly explain here. Consider how you would feel if you spent 8+ years hoping for something and finally learned it would become a reality.
After our meeting, Horizakura and I scheduled some appointments, the first of which resulted in this:
This was about 1 hour of work. This photo was taken after the first time Christine cleaned it for me, so there is still some residual ink and goop there. Apologies for the shit quality, many of these early pictures are from my phone.
In February 2015, I returned to Japan with the primary goal of finishing my tattoo (Christine and I did sneak in quite a bit of vacation as well). The first 3 appointments were back to back, about 4-5 hours each. During those 3 days, Horishun put in pretty much all the black. This marathon was really rough. By the time day 3 was over, I felt drained and had the chills. By the next morning I was feeling better, but I did lay low in my hostel for a day or so to relax. After a week and change of sightseeing, I had two more appointments to get the last of the color in. For ease, all the photos are combined into a single gallery. Disclaimer: I took most of these by myself with my phone. Healed, higher quality photos will be in the next post.