I don’t have any pictures of my back after my second session. You can blame Mike and Allie’s wedding for that. I may be at fault too, but it’s easier to point fingers. Below are pictures after my 3rd session. This brings the total to roughly 5 hours on my back.
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.
In 2007 I went to Japan for work. Before going, I called NY Adorned to speak with Horizakura and ask where I should go to get my tattoo. His assistant gave me the phone number for Tattoo Soul in Ikebukuro. Once in Japan, I had the concierge at the hotel set up an appointment at Tattoo Soul for me. The shop arranged to have an English speaker there to translate. Upon arriving at the shop, I met Horishun who would be doing my tattoo. He spoke almost no English at the time, so we worked through the translator. The plan was to do the outline on this trip and then begin filling in color on subsequent trips (the project I was on was meant to have multiple return trips to Tokyo). Horishun voiced his concern that I would get the outline finished in Tokyo and have somebody else fill it in once I arrived home. I gave him my word that I wouldn’t let anybody else work on the tattoo. As misfortune would have it, I would have to keep that promise for 8 long years.
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. One last note, this site may be considered Not Safe for Work. You may not want to browse in places where the naked male form is considered offensive. I’m serious. You’ll see my butt.