Year End Party with Horimitsu The Tattoo Master of Yokohama… aka wabori galore!

(I want to praise myself for not using  a clickbait title here as I totally could)

July 2013, Kitasenju, humid summer night. On my way back home from work I stopped by my favourite bookstore and found Tattoo♥Girls — a magazine about tattoos targeting Japanese women. At the time I was thinking about touching up my arm tattoo, so I was quite thrilled to see a nice catalogue of studios in Tokyo. After browsing a bit, I bookmarked the page introducing studio LaRuche.

December 2013, Studio LaRuche in Shinjuku. I had my first tattoo session with Betty. She turned my poorly drawn kokeshi into a little piece of art and I came back to studio Laruche many times after that, to get new ink or just to say hi to Kazu-San and Betty.

May 2014. I started blogging and decided to share some information about having tattoos in Japan and where somebody should get tattooed in Tokyo. I was also featured in the 2014 issue of Tattoo♥Girls. I started receiving e-mails from people and a heap of them asked me for help with bookings, some information on tattoo prices, advice etc. With time, it turned into a somewhat regular thing and I currently help the studio create their website in English, manage their Facebook page, answer inquiries in English and manage bookings for foreign people looking to get tattooed at LaRuche.

December 2015, Yokohama. Kazu-San and Betty asked me if I’d like to join a very special end-of-year party organized by the famous hand-poke tattoo master Horimitsu (http://www.horimitsu.jp/). Every year he invites his clients to a private party and presents his artwork to a very closed circle of people. And on top of that, Betty was his apprentice and I just had to see the person who helped her develop her mad tattooing skills. Of course I had to be there!

I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that I’d get to see things not many other people get a chance to see in their whole life.

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I guess you could say it was a regular company end-of-year party at first. Maybe a bit more casual since only a few people were wearing suits.

I sat at one table with the LaRuche crew — Betty-san and Kazu-san and for the first 30 minutes everyone was busy devouring the delicious top quality shabu-shabu beef the restaurant owners had prepared for us. Just look at it! Never in my life have I tasted meat so bursting with flavour and so amazingly tender!

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Special thanks to Betty-san and Kazu-san for inviting me to the party!♥

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Betty’s hand tattoos

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And then it began. Master Horimitsu gave the guests a sign and they started leaving the room in groups of three. When they returned to their seats they were wearing nothing but fundoshi — an article of traditional clothing worn as underwear (and barely covering the secret bits ), I just couldn’t help but stare at their intricate tattoos in awe. 

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It was simply amazing. I would never have thought that one day I would be sitting somewhere in Yokohama, feasting upon the finest beef in Japan, surrounded by Japanese people with fantastic full body tattoos. It was such a rare view, I didn’t know what to lay my eyes on. Media in Japan, and the whole country in general, likes to pretend that Japanese people don’t have tattoos and it’s the weird foreigners who come here and plant strange ideas in the minds of the poor Japanese. It is simply incorrect and…Okay, I prepared a few more fancy adjectives to put here, but to be honest I’m tired of the whole *OMG tattoos* discussion so let me stop this train of thoughts right here. If you think otherwise — cool, good for ya. Let’s agree to disagree. I happen to have attended a party for people with traditional tattoos which of course might be associated with particular groups of people (hence photos of those tattoos only), but these days young (not only! you’d be surprised) people get more Western designs, cute one-point or lettering tattoos. And they all look badass. 

Getting back on track…!

It was amazing, but also really intimidating. I kinda realized why people with traditional Japanese tattoos are banned from entering certain places (though that affects pretty much everyone with any type of tattoo). I believe I am one of the few people who got this chance to see this with their own eyes, so trust me here — it is hella intimidating. There was something different about the men, they seemed really confident, not afraid to tell you off if you stared at them too much (which didn’t happen, but I got the impression it could have happened). 

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I myself would probably be seen as a person with many tattoos if I only decided to show them off (though I don’t so you can’t really tell), so you might be surprised I claim that the whole experience made me feel like a 1st grader who accidentally entered a clasroom full of high schoolers. I cannot find the perfect words to describe it, but elegant hand-poke body suits with traditional Japanese designs do make one look powerful and yeah, I’ll say it, scary in a way. 

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One of my favourite photos. The woman was the wife of one of the men. You cannot see it here, but she covered herself with a white towel and the men couldn’t turn around when she was in the room, so no worries.

We chatted for a while and she complimented my tattoos. Many Japanese people I met did that too (if any part of my tattoo was showing which is rare), but you can never tell how honest they are really and I have my reasons to think it’s all lip service so don’t get too excited if a Japanese person comments positively on your tattoos.

I knew that she meant what she said and that was really, really nice.

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Master Horimitsu asked all of his customers to pose for him one by one and diligently took detailed photos of all the art he has created.

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(One of my favourite shots 🙂 )

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Men in the photos I took are so different from the businessmen with serious faces I see everyday going back home after hours of overtime.

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One last thing…

I feel like I need to specifically include this information as I’ve received lots of comments on Instagram regarding this matter and you were probably looking for it in this post anyway. Are those men members of the infamous group that does illegal things? I honestly DO NOT KNOW, but I know for sure that most of the attendees were just regular salarymen in love with the art of wabori — whether you believe me or choose to stereotype them is entirely your business. I DO NOT have any associations with the said group, I DO NOT have any special connections as some seem to think judging by their comments on my Instagram. I got a chance to see this hidden part of Japan and I took it. That’s all.

I hope you enjoyed this mini-coverage of the very special end-of-year party I attended. Oh, and if you’re OCD about the inconsistent logos — that’s a prevention measure I had to take to stop people from stealing my photos (so don’t steal my photos, yo).

Thanks for reading! ♥

Tattoos in Japan: Garyō the Tattoo Artist

I got my very first tattoos at the age of 18. To be precise, it was the 15th of November 2008, (←I have a good memory) I was much chubbier than now and I had a shaved head. Yes, everyone has gone through that weird phase in their life, when they did everything they could to look the least attractive as possible. Anyway, I decided to get two simple stars on my hipbones, nothing original. 3 years later I got a maneki neko ‘beckoning cat’ tattooed on my back. Then a kokeshi, then some more stars, and a cherry blossom… I’m turning 25 this year. I don’t regret any of my tattoos. Looking at them is like looking at some sort of a vivid picture book of my life. They all connect to some particular events in my life, for better or worse. 

I have written about my experiences as a tattooed person in Japan ( →here), but just in case you missed it or it’s the first time you’re here, I can assure you: It’s no big deal! I’ve never experienced anything really bad because of them, neither have I heard any rude comments. But this is my personal experience — the experience of one foreign girl living in Japan for just over 2 years now. What about heavily tattooed Japanese people? How is their life in the country considered to be extremely hostile towards body art? This January I had the pleasure of being tattooed by an amazingly talented artist — Garyō. He created a real work of art on my body. To be honest, I’d been thinking of getting the outline alone, but Garyō suggested getting it filled with a background that would give the crane life, give it texture, make it look real. He chose the best design for me and I trusted him entirely. Needless to say, I couldn’t be happier with the outcome! Okay, it’s high time I stopped blabbering and gave the floor to Garyō, whose stories and experiences will tell you what it is really like to be a tattooed person in Japan. 

Enjoy!

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Interview with Garyō the Tattoo Artist

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 How did you realize that tattooing was something you wanted to do in life? Was there any event in your life that made you think “This is it!”

 I was born in Akita, but I spent my teenage years in Sendai. I guess that many of you may not know that, but at that time Sendai was “the rocker town”. Yes! Not Tokyo, not even Osaka, but Sendai. I was into punk rock — Black Flag, Misfits, Circle Jerks etc. and so were the other guys I met there. I guess you could say we were like ‘bad boys’ you may have seen in some Japanese movies. We definitely were not like bosozoku gang guys, but we were also not what you would describe as typical junior high school students. You know, at that time we didn’t have the Internet, music magazines, DVDs… All we had was cassettes and CDs with our favourite music. Each one had a small album attached, same as it is now, with song lyrics and some photos of the band. We couldn’t get any bigger posters, so that had to suffice. Although the photos were very small, I could see my favourite musicians, I saw their tattoos and all I could think was “I wish I could be like them”. Without even thinking about it much, I decided to get tattooed. I was 16 at that time — and I realize that it wasn’t the best way to do it — but because in Japan you can only get tattooed when you reach the age of 20, somehow I managed to get a fake ID… And this is how I got my first tattoo. It was an oni, a demon. It might have gotten a bit out of control and by the time I was 18 I had both of my arms tattooed. And suddenly, when I got to that age when you kinda have to decide what to do next, get a job and all that, I realized… “How do I get a job NOW?” Long story short — there was no other choice than to become a tattoo artist. Funny thing, I never even knew I could draw. I would do nothing but practice all day, from early morning till late at night. I tattooed my whole legs, all I could reach. I found a tattoo master, who accepted me as his apprentice. Under his supervision I started practicing the art of tattooing. For many years I worked with my master in Gunma and Saitama prefectures, gathering experience, polishing my skills and preparing to be an artist on my own. When I was confident of my skills, I left for Tokyo and started my own tattoo studio.

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In English, your profession is called a “tattoo artist” — how about Japan? Do you consider yourself to be an ‘artist’?

I admit it feels good to be called an artist. Tattooing is art, I do think so. But it wasn’t considered such in ancient Japan — tattoos had one special use at that time. People like fishermen, fire fighters and all those people doing all kinds of dangerous jobs, got uniquely designed tattoos, so that in the case of a horrible accident their bodies could be easily recognized. Not very artistic, is it? Anyway, there are special words in Japanese that perfectly describe our profession. We call ourselves 彫師 horishi, we are craftsmen. We ‘carve’ permanent images into our customers skin. It is a craft, that requires us to be very precise. Rather than tattooing designs our clients bring with them, as it is often the case for Western tattoo artists — we talk about the design, add some ideas, give advice, sometimes it’s us who chooses the best design and our customers trust us. We are craftsmen and artists — treating human skin as canvas, making it beautiful.

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What kind of tattoos do most of your clients get? Who comes more often, men or women? Is it difficult to find Japanese clients these days?

You should know that here, at my atelier, we never do the same design twice. I treat each design individually, turn them into projects. I like big designs, body suits, back pieces, illustrations that tell a story — that’s what I’m good at, and that’s what people come to me for. Of course I can create original designs for my clients, if they have special requests, but as a tattoo artist with 16 years of experience, I can confidently say that free hand designs are what I am best at. I tattoo mainly men, my clients’ average age is about 30 and I admit, they’re mostly foreigners visiting Japan — thanks to my lovely wife, who’s a very active promoter of my services. I used to tattoo more Japanese clients, but they don’t come so often these days. From time to time I tattoo rock band members. People ask me if I tattoo mafia members… I’m professional, I don’t ask — they don’t tell. Which means I might have tattooed some of them in my 16 years of tattooing career. I guess I won’t know that for sure. 

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Do strangers on the street compliment your tattoos?

 Yes and guess what —  it happens quite often! What might surprise you, it’s mainly older women, who compliment me on my ink. Sometimes on the train, they exchange a few words with me and then say something like “Wow, your tattoos are really cool! They look great!” etc. And actually, it happens really often in South Korea. As I was walking down the street in Seoul, many people would stop me and say mixing English with Japanese “Japan? Tokyo? Yeah? Awesome tattoos! Looking cool!”. Even a customs officer at Incheon Airport once told me “Your tattoos are so cool, I want a tattoo too…” I felt kinda sorry for him since tattoos in South Korea are illegal, at least officially.

And how about strangers, whose comments about your tattoos are not exactly on the nice side? How do you react to them?

 Those, who actually think badly about tattoos, are usually scared of us — tattooed people, so they never even say anything. They might glower at me, give me the look of disapproval, but that’s about the worst it gets. I’m 39, I have my life experience. I understand there are people who like and don’t like tattoos. Each to their own. So why should I get mad or upset? I just shrug it off. It is not illegal, it is my passion, it is what I do for a living. Some people say “I think you should hide them”… But why should I? It is hot in the summer and I’m just a regular person — of course I’ll choose a t-shirt or a tank top on a hot day. It’s not that I show my tattoos. They are showing, that’s normal. It’s still the same skin as any other person’s in the world. Nothing’s really different.

In Japan is it more socially acceptable for men to have tattoos? Do women get criticized for getting inked?

Unfortunately — yes. They often hear “What will you do about your wedding dress when you get married? Will you even be able to find a boyfriend if you have tattoos? And what will you do when you have kids?” I know of cases, where a girl with small tattoos met a guy, they started dating and he literally forbade her to get any more tattoos, because… “tattoos are not for girls”. I admit to have had thoughts like “Is it really okay?” whenever I tattooed a girl before, who hadn’t had any tattoos yet. “Will she be okay? Will she not regret it?” But not any more. We’re all free to do whatever we please with our bodies, regardless of gender. 

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What are things you cannot do in Japan because of tattoos? Is there anything you wish you were able to do?

 Yes, there are quite a few things tattooed people can’t do here. Can’t go to some hot springs, public baths and even beaches — most of them in Tokyo, Osaka and other bigger cities. Some hotels don’t allow tattoos. If I’m correct, capsule hotels don’t allow them either. Sport centers. Kyabakura clubs. There’s that popular robot restaurant in Shinjuku and apparently you can’t go there if you have visible tattoos. We can’t donate blood. No pool allows tattoos bigger than 10 centimeters, and I guess that’s the only thing I wish I was able to do. They have those water slides, they look fun. I can go to any aquapark, whenever we visit my wife’s motherland — France, so I’m not missing out on anything. In Japan we just think shouganai = It can’t be helped. Japan is my country, I respect the rules. In fact I don’t mind covering my tattoos, whenever it is required. Sometimes I go out to dinner with my family, and want to save them from looks and comments and I wear long sleeve shirts. I’m fine with that.

Are there any onsen (hot springs) where you can have tattoos?

 Despite the common belief — YES! There are actually many places, where it’s not frowned upon. You won’t find them in Tokyo though. Go somewhere else, Tohoku, Kyushu. Onsens in mountains, small towns, villages — these are the places to go. There’s Kusatsu onsen in Gunma prefecture, not that far from Tokyo. People tend to be more laid-back about things there. Although, during peak times, they might politely tell you that you might want to come later when there’s less people, as there always might be someone, who might give you a hard time about it.

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Do you think that Japanese people are slowly changing their attitude towards tattoos? Is it getting better?

It is changing, yes. It may sound insensitive, but the people, who actually associated tattoos only with Yakuza are… no longer here. Younger generations think that tattoos are cool, fashionable, or just okay. And if for some reason they don’t like them, it’s not like they’ll be vocal about it. And grandmas and grandpas…Well, they might not like it, they might not understand it, but they had to accept that times have changed.

What was the best and the worst thing that happened to you during your tattooing career? 

 I can tell you with all honesty — I cannot recall a single bad thing. Sometimes clients make an appointment and never show up — that’s about as bad as it ever gets. But there’s definitely been a lot of great things going on. What kind of things? Collaboration with a French clothing brand CELIOCLUB, 3rd Prize in the Asian Tattoo category at the 16th International Tattoo Convention in Prague in 2014… Oh, and definitely one of the biggest things — I had the pleasure to tattoo Jim Root, the guitarist of Slipknot. It was so surreal, all these years I had been listening to Slipknot when tattooing other people, and suddenly, Jim Root came to my studio to get a tattoo! He was so tall, about 2 meters! Basically I draw my designs a bit bigger and then print them out in smaller versions, but this time was special — Jim got the original size tattooed on his arm, I hadn’t expected him to be so tall! He was the nicest person ever and we even got invitations to their concert in Tokyo last year, but since my wife and I are expecting a baby now, we couldn’t attend it.

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The best thing that happened? A few years ago I met my wife, Myriam. We met through friends and I know how it sounds, but it really was ‘love at first sight’. She caught a bad cold right after we met, and I went all the way to her house to bring her medicine. Since then, there was not a single day we spent separately. Yes, there’s definitely been a lot of good things going on in my life, ever since I decided to be a tattoo artist.

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CELIOCLUB x GARYO clothing line collaboration

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Thank you for reading! ♥


Tattoos in Japan: Tattoo ♥ Girls vol.13

Muggy July night, 2013. I finished work at about 9 PM and went back to Kita-Senju, where I lived at that time. There was one bookstore I liked to visit. I rarely bought anything, I was just one of the many people browsing through magazines in silence. That night I saw a magazine called “Tattoo♥Girls” and naturally, it caught my eye. Well, I’m a tattooed girl, let’s check it out. I bought it, went back home and placed myself comfortably on the couch. Okay, let’s see what this magazine has to offer. My first impression? Actually…I was a bit disappointed. I imagined a magazine like some of the European ones, with beautifully styled models covered in tattoos from head to toe, posing professionally. I thought I’d find lots of ideas for half-sleeves, full body wabori designs etc. What I was looking at was a photo collection (well, locally called a mook actually, magazine + book) of girls I saw everyday. With the only difference — they had tattoos. The tattoos though… Most of the designs were tiny and hidden. Anyway, I’d like to say thank you to whoever came up with the idea to publish a magazine like this. The idea is brilliant.

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I rarely saw tattooed people on the streets of Tokyo, and if that actually happened, they usually happened to be Japanese guys or foreigners. Tattooed girls in Japan — do they even exist? I am really glad I bought the magazine that night. I saw cute snapshots of Japanese girls and their lovely tattoos. Well yeah, like I said,  most of them were very small, so-called ‘one point’ tats, but each to their own right? The magazine gave me a great insight into the tattoo culture of Japan. You won’t find wabori tattoos here, no. You’ll find cats, dolls, stars, quotes, butterflies, cherry blossom petals. Lots of initials of beloved people, dates of some memorable moments, pet names, places. All kinds of lovely stuff.

I would have never thought that counting one year from that night, I would find myself on one of the pages of “Tattoo♥Girls”.

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/translation/

Tattoo designs: stars, cherry blossom, Sailor Moon planetary symbols, maneki neko, kokeshi

Studios where I got them: Tattoo Studio LaRuche, tattoo artist Betty; studios in Poland

“I love Japan so I got a lot of Japanese designs tattooed on my body♪ Recently I got this Sailor Moon tattoo! Looking at it takes me back to the time when I was a child. My favourite tattoo is the kokeshi one! I’m planning on adding a goldfish and a daruma tattoo to my quarter sleeve kokeshi tattoo soon!”

(let me just tell you that I’ve told them quite a lot about my tattoos, it was kind of an interview. They asked me many questions like “When did you get your first tattoo? Why? Why did you choose stars for your first tattoos?” or “What advice could you give to other girls who want to get a tattoo?” etc.)

I thought I could translate the page dedicated to LaRuche — so you could see for yourself why I chose them among others.

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“Tattoo Studio LaRuche — a cozy and welcoming studio, frequently visited by girls thinking “I want to be beautiful!”.

In fact, about 80% of clients choosing LaRuche are female! In the shop we can see photos of beautiful tattoos previous customers got, showing us that every girl can be a model. What tattoo will make you shine? An exquisitely balanced tattoo created by Betty, who gets her inspirations from everything around her and who is well-aware of the anatomy of the human body — which is significant for a tattoo artist.

“The tattoo outline, the colour that matches your physique and highlights its beauty can change your attitude towards yourself, it can make you feel better” — she says.  “I think that the sense of balance is important in tattoos. In the Japanese art of tattooing, the way the customer sees the world — their point of view – is what we give our thoughts to the most”. It is not only about bringing a photo of a design you want — describe how you imagine it, tell Betty what feelings should your tattoo convey and it’ll serve as an inspiration for an original tattoo. Taking it from there, she will create a unique design only for you.

Moreover, Betty is talking about unconventional tattoos and colour combinations for those who want to express more through their tattoos: “While drawing on paper is limitless — the human body has its limits, therefore we always try to suggest unique colour gradation to make your tattoo vividly charming; using white ink we can make your tattoo so bold that it’ll seem to pop out in 3D. What is more, there are many clients who want a fashionable tattoo and of course, before we choose the right place for the tattoo we think it through very thoroughly” — the way your tattoo will cooperate with your fashion is of the highest importance here. You can also have a proper photo shoot in the studio as an added bonus! Looking at the photos, you will see very clearly how beautiful you have become. It’s an ‘if you go there once, you’ll definitely be back’  kind of studio!

You can read more about my tattoos and my experience with Tattoo Studio LaRuche →here ←

Also! 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!

⇓⇓

shichijyuuni.gmail.com

or here

tattoo.laruche@gmail.com

..and if you’ve ever wondered what tattoos are popular / common in Japan — here’s the answer! I shared only a few snapshots though, not to reveal too much of the magazine contents — it’s worth reading so get your own copy ASAP (if you get a chance and if you’re interested in the topic of course!). It’ll be on sale until July 2015, so you’ll have the whole year to get your hands on “Tattoo♥ Girls”!

Some common designs

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My personal favourites

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Tiny and cute — what most Japanese girls get inked

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Thank you for reading! ♥

(by the way, I made a Facebook page for my blog — like it for updates, sneak peeks and extra stuff! → Shichijyuuni Blog)

Tattoos in Japan / Tattoo studio LaRuche in Shinjuku

 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.

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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!

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 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 ↓

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 Second tattoo done at LaRuche. A tribute to my childhood – Sailor Senshi planetary symbols.

Who didn’t love Sailor Moon as a child?

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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”

….

ALRIGHTY THEN.

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.

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Getting back on track….

My favourite tattoo studio!

tattoo studio LaRuche

〒160-0022 Tokyo, Shinjuku, 5 Chome−9−12

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This is what it looks like outside…you can’t miss it.

 Notice adorable tattooed Betty Boop  ↓

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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.

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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…

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 Tattoo time!

 

This time I decided to get something cute, because I like cute things, and that’s a good reason to get more ink, right?

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 Choosing the colours I wanted….

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Let’s do this!

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Yay! My super-duper-adorable tiny hearts. When I put my arms together, the hearts connect into one heart. How cute is that.

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↓Betty-san and her assistant Sekiguchi-san. 2 really awesome people ↓

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Have you ever seen any cuter tattoo artist?

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 And Sekiguchi-san, he is the funniest and friendliest Japanese man I have ever met. You’ll love getting your tattoos here.

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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!

⇓⇓

shichijyuuni.gmail.com

or here

tattoo.laruche@gmail.com

 Thanks for reading

♥♥♥

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