“My Collaboration with Hokusai”

Back Story

I’ve been excited to write this post for a long time.  If you’ve been reading this blog for the last year or two, you may remember that Horizakura had a few different ideas for what would go on my stomach.  I was receptive to most of them, but nothing really seemed like the perfect fit.  He said it needed to be something big that would stand out.  It wasn’t until after an appointment in July of last year that we discovered the perfect idea.  As I alluded in that appointment’s blog post, I was telling Horizakura a story about my visit to Obuse and the Hokusai Museum there.  It’s a great little museum and one of the paintings on display there is a smaller version of a painting Hokusai did on the ceiling of a temple.  It is called “Ho-O Staring in Eight Directions” and depicts a phoenix and some leaves.  The painting is designed in such a way that no matter where you stand, it appears to be looking at you.  After looking over the painting, I moved on and didn’t really think much more of it for the rest of my time in the museum.

Ho-O Staring in Eight Directions painted on the ceiling of Ganshoin Temple by Hokusai

After I left the museum, I still had a whole day to kill by myself, so I did what I always do in Japan.  Looked for the nearest temple and took a walk over there.  When I entered, I walked over to the main prayer area where there were benches set up.  I took a seat and noticed another painting of the phoenix from the museum, propped up on a easel in the corner of the room.  Next to it was a sign that asked guests to not lay down on the benches or the ground.  I was a little hungover and, for a split second, I was mystified by this.  In all my temple visits throughout my three trips to Japan, there had never been a sign like this.  “Look up you idiot.”  I turned my eyes up and you guessed it.  I was sitting underneath “Ho-O Staring in Eight Directions.”  I had, by complete accident, wandered into Ganshoin Temple, where Hokusai painted the work in the 1840’s.  I was blown away, not only by the coincidence, but by the imposing nature of seeing the work in person.  It was a really amazing experience.  The cherry on top was that as I looked over the rest of the carvings and art in that room, I noticed the archway leading to the main altar was adorned in part with the same dragon turtle that is tattooed on my right leg.

I left Ganshoin amused that I had unknowingly created a great memory for myself.  After telling Horizakura about this experience, he suggested that we use that phoenix as the main subject of my stomach.  He said, “It will be my collaboration with Hokusai.”  I instantly knew we had made the right choice, and I have been waiting months to see it come to life.

Session 71

For this appointment, Horizakura tattooed the first part of the phoenix across my upper stomach.  Pain is different for everyone, and for me, this was just absolutely terrible.  Specifically, where the feathers begin to go over my sternum and follow the rib under my pec was just brutal.  It certainly didn’t help that I was pretty sick for two days prior to the tattoo, but if you took the time to read the back story above, you may have figured out there was no way I was going to cancel this appointment.  In terms of design, you may notice that he has made some changes to the original.  I assume this is to make it a little more tattoo friendly, but I’m not sure.  I’ll have to ask him.  That’s enough words for one post (indeed too many words, but I’m sure you skipped all of them to look at the pictures).

Leaving My Legs Behind Me

That title is stupid, but I don’t care.  With last nights appointment (number 70 for those keeping track at home), Horizakura has wrapped up shading on my legs for the foreseeable future.  In light of this completely arbitrary milestone, I thought I would take some extra photos to give us all a sense of where we are at now.

Looking ahead, the plan is to start my torso outline in two weeks.  My excitement outweighs my concern for the amount of pain staring at me from the horizon.  If starting my torso wasn’t enough, we also discussed the possibility of just outlining the rest of the body suit over the coming appointments.  In the past I think we have rotated between shading and outline so we (I say we, but it’s mostly him.  I just sit there and nod vigorously.) can figure out what content should be added to other parts of the suit.  Besides a couple details, I think we are mostly set for the rest of the content though.  It’s possible that 2020 will be all outline… but we’ll see.  Plans change all the time and getting a bodysuit is no exception.  This has been a very exciting way to begin the New Year, but for now I am back to my usual activity: Eagerly awaiting my next appointment.

My leg is different now!

Session70Watermark-4

And here is a more all-encompassing look at both of my legs:

Session70WatermarkSession70Watermark-2Session70Watermark-3Session70Watermark-4Session70Watermark-5Session70Watermark-6Session70Watermark-7Session70Watermark-8Session70Watermark-9Session70Watermark-11

Nice.

For my sixty-ninth appointment, Horizakura continued shading the background on my right leg.  I’m not sure how common this is with heavily tattooed people (this might sound crazy, but I don’t really consider myself heavily tattooed), but I’ve noticed that any tattooed area that I can’t see daily often becomes a bit of a mystery to me.  When he began working on the side of my leg just above my knee… well I could have sworn that area was already shaded.  It wasn’t.  Then he moved on to the back of my knee which I knew had some unshaded spots, but I really couldn’t remember how much.  It wasn’t until after the wrap came off and I was able to compare these pictures with pictures from previous weeks that I realized what he worked on.  Our next appointment isn’t until mid January and should be the last appointment on my leg before we move to my stomach.  Time will tell!

Since this is my last appointment of 2019, I thought I would also include some photos that show where the year started.

Boom.

Thigh Pun

For my 68th appointment, I have a tattooed thigh and zero puns.  It’s the day before Thanksgiving.  Gimme a break.

Horizakura spent about 1.5 hours shading the background on my right thigh.  Generally speaking this is a pretty easy place for me to get tattooed… and if I’m being honest I actually fell asleep at one point.  The shop was warm and quiet, the jazz was buttery smooth (I was also super tired), it put me right out for like 10 min.  I was a little startled when I woke up and I think I might have kicked him in the leg.  Being the forgiving man that he is, he didn’t mention it.  Consequently, I felt like a million bucks after my power nap and the rest of the appointment was a pleasure.  It looks like there is maybe 2-3 hours of shading left to do on this leg before we’re out of outlines to fill.  We only have one more appointment on the books for this year, so hopefully this means we will start outlining my stomach at the start of 2020.  I’m very excited for that portion of this tattoo and the moment it captures in my life.

Damnit! I could have called this post “The Thigh’s the Limit!”

I want you to want me, I need you to knee me

For this, my sixty-seventh appointment with Horizakura, we finished my right knee.  I will never have to have my knees tattooed again.  Hurrah!  As you can see in the pictures below, Horizakura shaded the last two rocks of the cave and shaded the hollow of the cave as well as the bonji inside.  From what I remember, almost all the shading on my body is using different values of sumi, but for the bonji, Horizakura used pure sumi.  I was really curious how he was going to handle all the shading of the rocks, the darkness of the cave and the color/shading of the bonji.  You can see how raw my skin still is in the pictures, but I am super stoked to see what this looks like when it heals.  Not much more to say here…. 3 appointments without cancelling.  We’re on a spree. #feelsgoodman

Cast thine gaze upon mine naked knees!

 

Bury My Heart at Swollen Knee

During my 66th appointment with Horizakura, he continued thickening the cave lines and shading the rocks.  I mentioned earlier how tedious and time consuming the thickening is.  Well I’m very happy to report that all the lines of the cave have been thickened, so hopefully from here on out the shading will go a little quicker.  I would have to go back and check my previous posts, but I believe my left knee was done, front and back, in only 2 or 3 sessions.

Nonetheless, all progress is progress.  Frankly, I’m just thrilled that we haven’t had to cancel an appointment in 6 weeks.  That’s the first time that’s happened this year!  Anyway, here are some pictures of my swollen knee:

Ice on my chain, Cave on my knee

For my sixty-fifth appointment on October fifteenth, year of our lord two thousand and nineteen, Horizakura thickened the outlines of the cave rocks around my right knee and filled some of them in.  It was an hour and a half, though it probably looks shorter because the process of thickening rock lines is really tedious and time consuming.  When he first outlined that part of my tattoo, I knew this day would come.  A day when he works and works and works but it seems like very little actually gets done.  Pesky rocks!

Nonetheless, I am thrilled that we were able to make two appointments in a row.  There is a good chance we can get another appointment in two weeks from now as well.  Hot dog!

Cast thine gaze upon mine swollen knee: