Long time readers may recall how, over the years of working on this tattoo, our plans for the next appointment would frequently change. I had a habit of writing here what I expected would happen during the coming appointments and, more often than not, I was wrong. Tattooing exists at the crossroads of craftsmanship and art. As such I try to always remember that the tattooer might need to change the plan based on how they are feeling on a given day. This is especially true when you’re pursuing a large scale project as there is usually no shortage of areas to attack. Do you continue the outline? Add shading? Maybe decide to go back and add some color or tighten up and tune work from previous sessions? I have always taken the view that it all needs to get done eventually, so no matter what Horizakura decides to work on, it’s progress towards our goal.
You may have noticed that, despite a return to outlining on the last appointment, I made no predictions for appointment 118. Horizakura usually prefers to outline and shade in increments instead of outlining a lot and then going back. Even though we only had a very small amount of space left to outline on my torso at the end of the last appointment, I wasn’t certain that he would continue that outline on this appointment. Lo and behold, he did. My torso is now totally outlined and I’m beyond thrilled! Horizakura spent a little less than an hour outlining the remaining neckline and the area under the hikae by Horishun. Some of the area around the nipple and the area along my collarbone were predictably heinous, but other than that I didn’t experience anywhere near the amount of discomfort I felt during our last appointment. The spot where he added the two cherry blossoms was particularly easy… I could have sat there all day if he had more to do! It’s so peculiar to me how sometimes it only takes a 1/4″ to transition from falling asleep to a white-knuckled hellscape. Bodies are weird.
Horizakura will be doing some travelling in the coming weeks so we will be skipping our next couple appointments. We did discuss what is coming up next time we meet. The plan is to finish the outline completely, meaning we will be outlining my right forearm and connecting to my halfsleeve. I’m not entirely sure what the content will be. We had discusses a ryu-gyo at one point but I think it’s also possible we just keep it simple with rocks and water. No matter what he decides, I’m extremely excited for our next appointment!
Sorry there is only one picture. I realized the full-torso shot I took was totally out of focus so this is all you get for now.
On Sunday, during my 117th appointment with Horizakura, I saw a bright light and heard the beckon call of my ancestors calling me into the afterlife. At least, that’s how it seemed while he was outlining my chest for a little over an hour. The last time I had outline done on my chest was in 2007 when I started my half sleeve in Japan. It turns out the chest is particularly unpleasant for me and I think I died a little. Unpleasantness notwithstanding, I am incredibly happy with the results of this appointment. Not only in terms of coverage, but also in terms of Horizakura’s choice to keep things simple with a cherry blossom branch and wind. The understated chest will let the phoenix on my belly take center stage on my torso. There is now only a very small area on my chest that is left to be outlined! After that is done, all that remains of a fully outlined body suit is my right forearm! We are so very, very close!
I noticed a long time ago that when Japanese and Korean people say my first name (Jordan), they have a tendency to drop the “r” and say Jo-dan. I never thought much of it until an appointment about a year ago. Horizakura was drawing on my stomach and kinda mumbled “Jodanjanai” two or three times to himself. Haru started laughing and explained that jodan is the Japanese word for “joke.” Jodanjanai means “not a joke.” While I was certainly appreciative that Horizakura was invoking the contrary, it feels awfully fitting that my name would be synonymous with a joke. It fits nicely with my sometimes rye sense of humor. Anyway, with that context in place, during this appointment Horizakura hit me with the gem “No Jodan, No Life.” I live my life with an ego that is always on the precipice of being too large to tolerate. Now that I have been blessed with the kind of life affirming phrase usually reserved for bumper stickers and Live Strong bracelets, my wife may soon find me absolutely impossible to live with.
If ever you should find your life at a crossroads, just remember: No Jordan, No Life.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.