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Tattoos in Japan

April 2, 2018


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So, this post has two different videos in it. The main one is about tattoo culture in Japan, and the second one is about the meaning of my tattoo. I don’t think I can do a full post about my tattoo itself, because I don’t know what else I can say about it that isn’t more depressing. I don’t think my story is as relatable as Martina’s, or even as helpful. I lost at life and was saved. Deus ex machina. I wasn’t able to get out of my pit alone. But I’ve been there, floundered there for a long time, and it’s something that stays with me to this day. Not prominently. Not even noticeably. But it’s there, whispering from time to time. As some of you know I grew up really poor as well. And now I’m not super poor anymore. But the fear of going back into poverty licks at my ears once in a while. I’m often worried that this life can be taken from me at any moment. So, I’m doing my best to enjoy every experience that I can, before a tidal wave hits and brings me back to where I once was.

My only guess as to what I can say that’s useful to others is to cherish every moment you have, to not take them for granted. I’ve been with Martina for close to 15 years now or so, and I still look at her and at our lives with the shallow-breathed wonder of a kid first going to Disneyland. I married the greatest person I’ve ever met. To this day she’s still the most amazing person I’ve ever spoken with. And I want to do everything in my power to make her happy, to show her how much she means to me, and to pay her back for the insurmountable debt I owe her.

Ok enough sappy talk. Emotion time is over. Back to useful information. I can’t name the tattoo studio I went to in Tokyo, but I can tell you how I found a suitable artist. There are lots of tattoo shops in Japan, and many of them have websites and Instagrams. Basically, I knew what I wanted to do for my tattoo, so I looked for an artist whose style suited my needs. Namely, I was looking for someone comfortable with water-colours and splatter work and waves. The artist I found has all three in their gallery, so I thought they were a good fit for me. I sent them an email and asked if my tattoo idea was something they’d be interested in doing, and they responded positively, so we met and discussed the tattoo some more and hammered out the design and plan. That’s a lot more of a convoluted process, I’m sure, than many of you might need. In the many sessions we had together, I saw lots of walk in customers that just said they wanted something small, and so many of the artists there were able to handle the task. I’m sure you can probably do the same if you’re interested. If you’re looking for a bigger piece, though, you might be interested in going the route I went.

I’m currently working on more tattoo stories I want to tell on my body, and once I have those decided upon I’ll get more done. Ideally I’d like to be inked neck to toes, but it’ll take a while, and I’m in no rush. We’re still discussing how high on the neck I want to go. Never the face, I’m sure, but high up the neck seems alright to me.

One last resource I want to share with you is Save Tattoing Japan. That’s where we learned more about the issues tattoo artists in Japan are facing. Check it out if you want to learn more. Or, check out our TL;DR on Tattoos in Japan below. We’ll tell you how our neighbours react to our tattoos :D



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Tattoos in Japan


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  1. Thank you so much for sharing this video and your story, Simon. I’m sure it was difficult but I appreciate that you were able to do so. All the stuff about tatooing in Japan is so interesting. In some ways they are so far advanced from where I am (USA), but then you see things like this and all you can do is shake your head. Tattoos are banned? For what good reason? ‘Everyone’ knows that it’s not only Yakuza that get tattoos nowadays. It seems extra ridiculous.

    2 years ago
  2. And it would be awesome if you could make a video how you deal with chronic illness as a partner. My boyfriend does not know how to handle me as I am getting worse, I have fibromyalgia.

    2 years ago
  3. I know how u feel Simon, I’m in the same place now. I hope I will find something.. To fix my ladder.

    All the best and all love to you.

    2 years ago
  4. Thanks for sharing your story. It is very touching. Wishing you and Martina all the best!

    2 years ago
  5. I’ve been sitting here trying to think of the words I want to write, but I can’t come up with them. So here’s what I can: Thank you for being so open and honest.

    2 years ago
  6. My eyes teared up when you translated the binary code. You guys are ultimate relationship goals and both of your determination and strength inspire me to push through the hard times. ❤️

    2 years ago
  7. You two are such awesome people. I love the way you love each other. Thanks for always allowing us to be a part of your lives.

    2 years ago
  8. This was such a beautiful video – thank you for sharing something so personal and moving. You both love each other so much and it comes across all the time. I do hope this tattoo helps Martina to not feel guilty – because you both love one another so much, in a way you both saved the other <3 <3 <3 If I could love and be loved even half as much as you two love one another I would be such a lucky individual.

    On a lighter note…TL;DR theme how I missed it…the kitchen cupboards with decals definitely were nostalgic

    2 years ago
  9. Your relationship reminds me of the lyrics to this Philip Glass piece called “Einstein on the Beach”…
    “two lovers sat on a park bench
    with their bodies touching each other
    holding hands in the moonlight
    there was silence between them
    so profound was their love for each other
    they needed no words to express it
    and so they sat in silence on a park bench
    with their bodies touching
    holding hands in the moonlight
    finally she spoke
    “do you love me, john?” she asked
    “you know i love you, darling” he replied
    “i love you more than tongue can tell
    you are the light of my life my sun, moon, and stars
    you are my everything
    without you, i have no reason for being”
    again, there was silence
    as the two lovers sat on a park bench
    their bodies touching
    holding hands in the moonlight
    once more, she spoke
    “how much do you love me, john?” she asked
    he answered, “how much do i love you?
    count the stars in the sky
    measure the waters of the oceans with a teaspoon
    number the grains of sand on the seashore
    impossible, you say?”

    2 years ago
  10. Actually the story about the wave resonated a lot with me. Back when I first saw a councellor for my anxiety issues, when I was completely freaking out and losing control, I remember they told me that panic came in waves. The waves might be super powerful, but every wave would eventually withdraw. Because, that’s what waves do. They come, and then they go. So whenever I have a panic or depression wave coming at me, I just remember to dig my feet in the ground and wait for it to withdraw. And it’s been working fine so far since I’m still around over a decade later. So maybe I can pass this advice on to you now ;)

    Thank you for sharing your story, I think a lot of people can relate to that as well, like people who have been in a dark place (like me) or who are living with people dealing with chronic pain. I’m convinced deep down everyone has a darker and sadder part, and if we all remembered that the world would probably be a much brighter place.

    Big hugs to you and congrats on your tattoo finally being done!

    2 years ago
  11. Thank you both for being open about the hard stuff in life. In watching your videos over the years and seeing people be more open about some of that stuff has in turn helped me be able to talk to those close to me about those things as well which has made it feel a whole lot easier to cope with. Also I know that I can just put on some your videos on a bad day have a good laugh and read the comments and smile more. PS the water colour duck looks so freaking cute/cool

    2 years ago
  12. Oh Simon, that is such a sad sad story. BIG HUUUUUUUUUUUUGGS!! Big Hugs for Martina too, since you love each other, you share each other’s stories…..I understand your theory in getting the tattoo but Simon, please think on this: Because you were open to new adventures, you were able to notice Martina in the first place. Because you were brave, you would were able to take Martina’s hand to start a relationship. Because you were trusting and believed in yourself, you were able propose and to marry Martina. Because you were strong and adaptable, you have been able to last in a relationship of many years. I’m not saying that Martina didn’t save you, but that you also played an equal role in it. Relationships are two people, after all :). As well, I’m sure that Martina could tell you far more eloquently than me, how important you are to her in her life too……….After watching this video, I reminded my son that as long as you are SAFE, WARM, and LOVED, you will never be poor or alone. It’s okay to be sad and to cry, necessary, therapeutic, even cathartic, and you shouldn’t feel embarrassed. Take all hugs offered and remember the three things and you won’t ever drown in it. The Nasty Community is always with you too <3<3<3<3. If you really need to get a good cry out, you can always watch a great story and emotional rollercoaster with lots of crying called "One Piece" ;).

    2 years ago
  13. well.. i’m gonna say a lot of thank you to you both.
    thank you for sharing this part of your life with us, it was really brave of you guys. And thanks again that a lot of your story has helped me and i believe many other to heal our self, be more grateful, and always appreciate everything in life. thanks for being so genuine and inspiring. i’ll pray that only good thing will happen to you guys in the future. sending lots of love and hugs

    2 years ago
  14. I’ve been following your journey since the times of the washing machine video ;)
    And let me say, the relationship and connection you both have with each other is very very inspiring. Watching you both together is magical. My only wish is to find the Simon to my Martina. You guys are beautiful, thank you for all those years of amazing content. Love you both till the end.

    2 years ago