Getting a Tattoo in Japan:

Getting tattooed in another country can be a daunting experience. Where do you even start? This post is designed to walk you through the steps of getting a tattoo while visiting Japan and make it a little less stressful.

I was tattooed in Japan on June 2nd, 2018, by Hide Ichibay at Three Tides Tattoo in Tokyo.

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If you’re getting a tattoo in Japan, i’m going to assume you’re wanting some sort of Japanese tattoo, whether it’s traditional or just something to remember your trip by. Traditional Japanese tattoos are their own style, but Japanese themed pieces can be done in a few different styles. Such as traditional Japanese, neo Japanese, realistic Japanese, black and grey, and black work.

Once you know what style you want you can start looking for artists. The best way to do this I find, is to look in a specific city. So for myself I started with a simple google search of traditional Japanese artists in Tokyo. I sifted through the first three pages on google, looking at some websites and portfolios and chose my top three shops and a few different artists. Once I had those I looked more at their sites and checked out more portfolios, pricing, and most importantly their hygiene. Lots of artists will also have Instagram accounts, such as my artist, making it easy to see their work.

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Tattoo shops in Japan aren’t regulated like shops are in Western countries since in Japan only someone with a medical degree can legally tattoo. Therefore the shops you’re seeing aren’t regulated by the government, so you want to make sure they aren’t re-using any tattooing instruments that touch blood, and that the shop is clean. Most sites will have a section on this, and if the site is in Japanese and you can’t read it, such as myself; you can always use google translate to get the gist of it. If you’re still questioning it you can also send an email, or just pick another shop.

Once you have a shop and artist picked out you can send an email. Some shops, such as Three Tides, will have a receptionist that you will deal with, rather than the actual artist. You’ll want to email at least a few months in advance (some artists will require more time than that, even up to a year in advance), and request an artist, and give a few different days that would work for you. You should also include some reference pictures for what you would like, include any needed information like if the tattoo will be in colour or not, and how big you would like it and where it’s going on your body. Once that is set up you may also have to include a picture of where on your body it’s going, especially if you have other tattoos in that area that the artist has to work around.

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You may also be required to send a deposit to hold your spot. This is normal and most shops will use PayPal, though if you don’t have PayPal and don’t want to get it you may be able to work something else out such as a direct deposit.

The next step is getting your tattoo finally! If you have tattoos then you know what to do and you’re all set. The only difference may be that you’re used to having a consultation first, and for this tattoo you’ll spend the first thirty minutes to an hour basically doing that. If it’s your first tattoo then you’ll want to make sure you eat something before your appointment, and maybe have a juice box with you incase your blood sugar gets low.

This was my first time getting tattooed in a country that is so hot and humid, but I had gotten some tips from other people who had been tattooed in Japan as well. Most people have their favourite cream or gel that they like to use for healing (mine is vitamin E gel or a cucumber cream) and you can still use that, but for dealing with the heat I recommend using a chilled coconut oil. You can keep it in the fridge (it will harden quite a bit) and use a tiny amount when it’s dry. The coolness feels fantastic in the heat of Japan. Thanks to my new friend off of Reddit for that tip!

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Finally you can enjoy your new tattoo! Have fun being tattooed in Japan and on your trip.

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My healed Japanese tattoo by Hide Ichibay.

If you have any questions about getting tattooed in Japan feel free to leave a comment.

Japanese Frog Tattoos:

Frogs are a common subject in Japanese irezumi. These frogs are often seen holding leaves, instruments, food, or other household items. They are also often dressed as samurai; katana and all.

Alex Henderson Speakeasy Tattoo
Frog with its own irezumi, wielding a meat cleaver. Done by Alex Henderson at Speakeasy Tattoo.
Alex Henderson speakyeasy 1
Another frog by Alex Henderson, directly influenced by Kyôsai.
Henbohenning
A neo Japanese piece done by Henbohenning.
Kye Wolff Blacktide Tattoo :: Melbourne :: Australia
Bright frog done by Kye Wolff at Black Tide Tattoo in Melbourne, Australia.
Pino Cafaro
Bright buddhist frog done by Pino Cafaro.

These frogs are largely based off of woodblock prints painted by Kawanabe Kyôsai. Kyôsai painted a number of frogs, but his most famous piece is called “Fashionable Battle of Frogs (Fûryû kaeru ôgassen no zu)”.

kyosai
Fashionable Battle of Frogs (Fûryû kaeru ôgassen no zu)
AMBER SCHADE Melbourne Australia
Cute frog munching on some ramen. Done by Amber Schade in Melbourne, Australia.
Hide Ichibay Three Tides Tattoo in Tokyo Japan
Frog playing a Japanese shamisen done by Hide Ichibay at Three Tides Tattoo in Tokyo.
Lance St. Vincent Horisumi Tattoo Family. Authentink Tattoo Studio, Sydney
Green frog done by Lance at Authentink Tattoo Studio, Sydney, Australia.
Thomaz Fernando
Bold blackwork frog with its own chrysanthemum tattoo, done by Thomaz Fernando.
Tien Tien 天天 Taiwan
Frog dumping out a jar filled with koi fish done by Tien Tien done in Taiwan.

These frogs are mainly done in a traditional Japanese style, though they can also be done as more American traditional, or neo traditional.

Buda tatuagens Araraquara - São Paulo - Brasi
A brighter frog done by Buda tatuagens Araraquara in São Paulo, Brasil.

They are usually done with full colour, with a similar colour palette to the paintings.

CAIO PIÑEIRO Tattooer since 2003 🇬🇧 SANG BLEU TATTOO LONDON
Bold dancing frog with Japanese fan done by Caio Piñeiro, at Sang Bleu Tattoo in London.
Horimatsu
Angry looking samurai frog done by Horimatsu.
Makoto 🇯🇵Kitakyushu Fukuoka Japan
Dark ninja frog done by Makoto in Fukuoka, Japan.

Some of these frogs even have their own irezumi. Usually flower designs that are simple for the artist to make small.

Fabio Platino Tattoo artist in the city of Naples
Frog ready to do battle, featuring its own hannya tattoo. Done by Fabio Platino in Naples.
Ganji Three Tides Tattoo in Tokyo Japan
Dark monster-like frogs done by Ganji at Three Tides Tattoo in Tokyo.
Jade Rebel Waltz Tattoo
Kyôsai’s frog done by Jade Harper at Rebel Waltz Tattoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Nick Maurypovich FIVE FATHOMS in Vernon BC 1
Samurai frog in full clothing done by Nick Maurypovich at Five Fathoms Tattoo in Vernon BC.
Nick Maurypovich FIVE FATHOMS in Vernon BC 2
Samurai frog head also done by Nick in BC.
Nick Maurypovich FIVE FATHOMS in Vernon BC
A third tall and gangly frog samurai done by Nick.

Which is your favourite?