Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Trend Our top 10 Tokyo tattoo parlors for the young and fashion conscious

apan is home to a rich tradition of tattooing. Despite the widespread discrimination towards people with tattoos, with rules that prohibit tattooed people into hot springs, golf courses and gyms, it is still one of the best places in the world to get the best quality ink jobs.

Although nowhere near the scale of LA or NY, Japan is slowly opening up to the idea that tattoos are fashionable. Led by celebrities such as Amuro Namie and Hamasaki Ayumi, the notion of getting skin art is hardly as taboo as it used to be, with its stygian yakuza associations.

Tokyo Tattoo Shops
Japanese Girl With Tattoos Cute Japanese Tattoo Japanese Robot Tattoo Japanese Neck Tattoo

Whilst traditionally getting tattoos was predominately the pastime of men, women are also taking an interest in fashionable skin art and have a strong presence in the tattoo industry. Many of the top artists are female, the editors of the tattoo magazines are also typically women, and the pseudo fashion magazine Tattoo Girls features models from agencies shot by prominent photographers such as Hiromix…although strangely enough, they are all sporting fake tattoos.

Osaka’s Nattsu at Chopstick Tattoo tells me, “I get lots of girls, girls working in the fashion and beauty industries, and gay guys,” and her portfolios are filled with super cute tattoos. Moreover, Horisho from Mindscape tattoo, says, “My clients are going from being the blue-collar workers and laborers who were my usual clientele to a sudden surge in interest from fashion people, designers, hair-dressers and many more female clients.”

There is no doubt about the popularity of tattoos in Japan. There are three major magazines for the tattoo enthusiast, and half the pages are ads for tattoo shops. There are tattoo events on at least once a month. I’m told that there are over 500 shops all over Japan.

Tokyo Tattoo Shops
Japanese Tattoo Artist Japanese Tattoo Artist Cute Japanese Tattoo Parlor Sign Female Japanese Tattoo Artist

However, having said that, be aware that most people are still quite shocked by tattoos- and if you get heavy tattoo work, you will inevitably find yourself wearing long sleeves in summer. They simply don’t do much to aid employment, according to Hata from Koenji’s inkrat.

“I foresee a generation of elaborately tattooed homeless in the future,” he says, only half jokingly. “It’s hard to get bank loans and rental contracts with visible tattoos. Things haven’t changed much.”

Aside from being aware of the fact that you probably won’t be able to go to your favorite onsen without either refusal or quizzical stares, also take into consideration that tattoos are quite the luxury, with a standard 15,000 yen per hour charge. They are also addictive!

Tokyo Tattoo Shops
Japanese Tattoos Japanese Tattoo Culture Japanese Tattoo Chest Tattoo Art

As with any expensive purchase, get as much information as possible. There are several excellent tattoo magazines, the best being Tattoo Burst, and numerous books aimed for the fashion conscious sold at any bookstore, especially the cooler shops like Village Vanguard.

Japan is full of inspiration, and tattooing motifs can come from the classic lexicon of traditional tattooing motifs, such as dragons, carps, phoenixes, foo-dogs and the like, that come with their own prescribed meanings, that should be taken into consideration. However, living in Japan, it’s just as common for clients to get inspired by Sanrio characters, kimono prints, and Pok√©mon. There is no shortage of places to look.

Tokyo Tattoo Shops
Japanese Tattoo Japanese Girl With Tattoos Japanese Tattoos Female Back Tattoo

Some of the questions you should ask are:

Do I really want something permanent? How big, and where do I want it? What do I want? And, Who do I go to?

We have selected ten of the more reputable street shops in Tokyo that are accessible, friendly, offer top notch tattoos, and are strict with sterility.

The wait lists for some of these shops can be incredibly lengthy, although some people luck out and get a “walk-in” tattoo. It’s best to go, consult with the artists, see if you actually like the person, and are comfortable getting tattooed by them, and then proceed.

Tokyo Tattoo Shops
Japanese Tattoo Art Japanese Back Tattoo Japanese Chest Tattoo Shoulder Flower Tattoo