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Looking to go under the needle? Sweet! So did I. After much research and a few parlor visits, my ribs are now beautifully painted by one of Tokyos finest. Let me do the research for you. Check out these rad tattoo artists in Tokyo:
Tokyo’s Top Tattoo Artists
Despite the apparent negative correlation between tattoos and organized crime in Japan (or maybe directly for it), I made the executive decision to go under the needle this winter. I put together a side piece stitched together from artists all over the world, and decided to start here in Tokyo. (Updated photos of my work now, 3 years later) Cheers to the pain, y’all!
After extensive research into tattoo shops here in Japan, I contacted many different tattoo artists and made special trips out to visit a few with less developed online presence. There are so many artists to choose from, it can be quite overwhelming to figure out where to start. Here are my findings:
They have tons of artists to choose from, and 2 locations- one in Tokyo and one in Osaka. Probably one of the coolest things about this studio is they have American tattoo artists that work back and forth between the West Coast and Tokyo (Adrian Lee). The only reason I didn’t go with this studio is because I was really interested in getting artwork done by someone that wasn’t accessible in the states.
Here is a photo from some of Adrian’s epic work:
This is the artist I actually decided on, finally. En is extremely professional, lightning-fast, and has a fantastic eye for color!! Horizarus’ studio is just as professional as he is. When you first enter the building, it smells sweetly of incense, and is filled with vintage style furniture to relax on while he sketches out the artwork you are commissioning him for. Mr. En-san is the only one that works out of the studio in Tabata. I highly recommend his work. Check out the tattoo he designed and colored for me at the bottom of this post!
I really enjoyed Haruka’s portfolio. Haruka has many different styles, including watercolor and ‘chic’ type tattoos on the gallery.
If you are feeling especially brave and want an authentic traditional-style tattoo, you can still get a piece of hand-tapped art from Ryu-san.
I’m going to go ahead and admit that the idea of a more painful tattoo already turned me off to this studio. Ryugendo is cheap compared to American standards that require a nice tip, but up-front cost is minimum 2 hours, or 30,000yen. Some of his tattoos require over 30 hours of work!
After experiencing the rib cage and general demeanor of En Horizaru, I’m ultimately glad that I decided against getting a traditional piece. There is no mercy….and the tattoo artists do not like to take breaks. It’s not for someone with a lower pain tolerance.
Some of the most beautiful color-only tattoos in Tokyo are at this studio. Check out Kei-san’s portfolio to see his lion tattoos and the sweet sleeves he has designed.
They have 3 different locations, and you choose by style. They offer discounts for large tattoos! Minimum price, 5000yen/$50USD. Large tattoos run at 12000 yen per hour, which is about $30USD cheaper than other shops in the area. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed with some of their “large style” work, but I did like their traditional pieces.
Ipo loyal tattoo specializes in Neo Japanese, tebori (traditional hand-poked tattoos), and Japanese traditional style. He uses a rotary gun. Access to his Instagram account here and link to studio here.
Famous for traditional Irezumi traditional style as well as other options as well, this is a great alternative for someone that might want a neo-traditional tattoo in Japan.
I enjoyed flipping through the gallery on Scratch addictions website.There seemed to be a great mix of work of different varieties, but I’ll admit I didn’t personally go to this shop to check out their portfolios or see if they spoke english or not.
Tattoo 56 for sure has English speaking staff, and a wide selection of artists with their books on display! I had issues with their website working at times, though.
A look at my finished product:
Have you gotten any work done in Japan? What are you experiences? Who did you get your tattoo from? Comment below and let me know what you think!