As you may have already noticed — I LOVE TATTOOS. I honestly think that tattooed bodies are beautiful and tattooing is art. I remember I have wanted a tattoo since I was, maybe, 14 years old? Just a few months after I turned 18, I got my first tattoos…I’m almost 24, and I’m currently planning to turn my quarter sleeve right arm tattoo into a proper half sleeve. It’s going to be gorgeous.
Where will I get it? I guess I’ll get it done at the same studio where I got other tattoos….
Studio LaRuche in Shinjuku!
Some time ago I decided it was high time for me to get my arm tattoo fixed. I got a kokeshi done a few years back, but, I won’t lie – it was cheap and after 3 years you couldn’t even tell what colours were used. Anyway! I found this magazine called Tattoo♥Girls in some bookstore, I don’t remember the name, but you can get it in Village Vanguard or Kinokuniya. I really recommend buying this magazine if you want to get a tattoo in Japan. You’ll find descriptions of many different studios, not only in Tokyo but also in Osaka and Kyoto. I bought this magazine in July last year, but it wasn’t until December when I decided I should finally get my tattoo re-done. Somehow, LaRuche appealed to me.
By the way, guess who’s going to be in the newest issue of Tattoo♥Girls? Surprise, surprise — me! 😀 I’ll definitely make a blog post about it once I get my hands on the 2014 issue of the magazine, which will be on sale in July!
I sent an email to LaRuche and got a prompt reply. They told me to come to the studio, so we could talk about my tattoo, how we could try to fix it, choose a new design etc. The tattoo artist Betty and her assistant Sekiguchi-san are honestly some of the nicest people on the face of this Earth. They’re really kind and super funny, I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Just look at these little pieces of art Betty created on my body. My arm tattoo design is entirely her idea, I just told her what I wanted and trusted her with everything. She turned my poorly drawn kokeshi into a colourful beauty. I didn’t know what it would look like until the very last session.
At the time when the photo was taken, the tattoo was still really fresh so it didn’t look so good, but trust me, my kokeshi is a total cutie now.
Notice mini-me on the fan ↓
Second tattoo done at LaRuche. A tribute to my childhood – Sailor Senshi planetary symbols.
Who didn’t love Sailor Moon as a child?
I’m crazy in love with my tattoos. I know I can’t remove them, I know I’ll have them even when I’m old and wrinkled – and that’s exactly what I love about them. And if you ask me about having tattoos in Japan…Well, is it really so different than other countries? Here’s a few answers to the most frequent questions I have been asked.
“How did you get a job in Japan? You have tattoos!”
I had qualifications, I passed all the interviews. I didn’t come to the interview wearing a sleeveless shirt, saying “Eyyyy what’s up, look at my tats”.
“Do you hide your tattoos at work?”
Do I…? I have a good understanding of Japanese business etiquette and personally, I don’t find wearing piercings / low-cut tops / sleeveless shirts appropriate either. Even if it was okay, I just wouldn’t show my tattoos. So what do I do with the visible ones? I put some beige tape on them whenever I have to. Sometimes people I meet ask me “what happened, are you hurt?” I answer it’s nothing serious, they don’t ask, I don’t tell.
“How about other people? People on the street? Your friends?”
Honestly? I have never heard any bad words about my tattoos. All I’ve ever heard was “So cute! Adorable! You’re soo cool!”. I think that the fact that I am not a big scary dude driving around in a big black car helps me here a lot. Anyway, my friends love my tattoos, I get compliments from people on the street, some people can’t get their hands off of my kokeshi (*cough cough Shin-Okubo cough*).
People do stare. But is there a country where they don’t? I know that in other countries it might be more common to have tattoos so people don’t even care anymore. But in Japan – it’s a vicious circle. A long time ago tattoos had a really bad image, so you wouldn’t really see them in public. Nowadays more and more young people get tattoos but thinking others will criticize them, they still don’t show them in public – therefore other people think it’s rare – but in fact it’s not – therefore they stare whenever they see tattooed people…. Could ya follow that?
The only situation when I feel uncomfortable is when I’m alone, on the street or on the train, and I wear clothes showing my tattoos. You know that feeling when you can feel eyes on you? Yup. So in the summer I always wear a thin cardigan whenever there’s no friend by my side. Not a big sacrifice, is it?
How about onsen / swimming pool / gym / beauty salons?
First and foremost, I will not go to a public onsen ever again. Let’s say my first onsen experience was quite shocking, because at that time I believed that what they show on TV — people wrapped in towels relaxing in the bath — was true. Needless to say, the reality hit me hard in the face. For someone who would have never imagined bathing with any other person, let alone like 30 other people, that was traumatizing. Naked people. Looking at you. Because you’re foreign. And you have tattoos. And you’re naked too. I managed to force myself to stay there for about 10 minutes.
I think that was one of the worst experiences I have had in Japan so far. No more public onsen for me, nope n o p e NOOOPE. You can always book a private onsen, and trust me, it’s waaaaay better than bathing with a bunch of strangers judging you, while you’re standing there naked and powerless.
Swimming pool? When I stayed in Okinawa last year, I had no problem using the hotel swimming pool, neither have I heard any comments. The same goes for the beach. No problem at all.
Gyms and public swimming pools though, are another story. You can’t attend them if you have tattoos. I hate working out so I’m fine with that. And if you like sports…try jogging maybe? Why pay for a gym?
And yeah…beauty salons. Some time ago I wanted to get a nice professional massage (sitting at my desk 12 hours a day, getting stiff shoulders and stuff). I found a nice place, was about to book an appointment and then I saw a very politely written notice that said something like:
“We’re really really sorry, but we can’t serve clients with tattoos”
But! What I did was finding another Japanese massage place where you just wear clothes like pajamas and they even cover you with a warm blanket, it’s all nice and cozy and nobody cares if you have tattoos or not.
You see, it’s not bad at all. Kokeshi approves.
Getting back on track….
My favourite tattoo studio!
tattoo studio LaRuche
〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku, 5 Chome−9−12
This is what it looks like outside…you can’t miss it.
Notice adorable tattooed Betty Boop ↓
Tattoo prices depend on the size, colour, difficulty, style…everything. They are much more expensive than in Europe…like maybe, 5 times as expensive? But now that I think about it, I realize that’s a good thing. A tattoo is something you’ll have for the rest of your natural life. You get something inked on your body. Does the price really matter?
If you feel you’d like to get something, but you’re not really sure what, LaRuche has countless tattoo magazines (most of them are foreign), beautiful photos of wabori tattoos, picture books full of tattoo ideas and of course Betty, who is a really talented artist.
You can get a fixed price tattoo and choose a design from the “12,000 yen campaign” tattoos. They also have a “5,000 yen small size tattoo campaign” and you can find some really adorable tiny designs there.
Yes, Japanese people often get tribals, butterflies, mysterious shapes, English quotes etc…
This time I decided to get something cute, because I like cute things, and that’s a good reason to get more ink, right?
Choosing the colours I wanted….
Let’s do this!
Yay! My super-duper-adorable tiny hearts. When I put my arms together, the hearts connect into one heart. How cute is that.
↓Betty-san and her assistant Sekiguchi-san. 2 really awesome people ↓
Have you ever seen any cuter tattoo artist?
And Sekiguchi-san, he is the funniest and friendliest Japanese man I have ever met. You’ll love getting your tattoos here.
If you worry about having tattoos in Japan – don’t. Why worry? If you love both, tattoos and Japan, why give up one thing for another? People’s mentality will change eventually.
If you live in Japan and you’re looking for a friendly place to get your first tattoo / get your tattoos fixed or covered up — studio LaRuche is the place to go. Any questions? Leave a comment!
If you’d like to book an appointment at LaRuche, ask them about prices, or need someone to go there with you to translate for you – please contact me!
Thanks for reading