Tattoos and self-expression

Here’s another news story about doing something positive instead of focusing on the negative (in this case, bullying and debilitating accidents). It’s about tattooing, but a different kind. Warning: some of the images are a little hard to watch.

Read more about the story here: “Basma Hameed creates booming business tattooing scars” (from Canada’s CBC News)

Tattoos have become almost commonplace in many parts of the world. When I was in Portland, Oregon, I think more than half the people I saw there had a tattoo. This article from the Huffington Post says that more than a third of young (age 18-36) Americans have tattoos.

But they are still largely stigmatized here in Japan. When my sister, who has some small tattoos on her ankles and wrists, came to visit me, I advised her to cover the tattoos with bandaids when we went to an onsen (hot springs), as I’d heard many stories of people being forbidden entrance, even for small tattoos, and most onsen I’ve been to do have signs that say “No tattoos”. It was troublesome and spoiled the experience for her a little.

Read more about the history of tattoos in Japan here: “Japan inked: Should the country reclaim its tattoo culture?” (from the Japan Times). Here’s a story about a woman who was fined at her workplace for having a tattoo. And here’s a much longer piece from Japan Subculture about tattoos in Japan today.

I do see more and more younger people in Japan with tattoos. Maybe the onsen rules (which also seem to exist at swimming pools and sports gyms) will relax one day. And in any case, I suppose the tattooing shown in the video wouldn’t count?


4 thoughts on “Tattoos and self-expression

  1. Pingback: Post 10-2 | Khai Muk Wi-Wi

  2. I agree. At one point when everyone comes to a collective thought and stop “conforming” then society itself will almost in a way open its mind to something beautiful such as tattoo art. Here in the US they are becoming such the norm now. I am a mental health therapist and have 4 tattoos. A place work place where it was one frowned on because you have to be “clean cut.” What’s even more impressive is that more and more Doctors getting tattoos as well.

    Good luck on your journey and do not give up! Namaste!

  3. Thanks for the comment. I think we should be allowed to do what we want with our bodies: piercings, tattoos, or whatever. On the other hand, many of us live in a society where we have to wear “uniforms” of various kinds and conform to certain rules. Or maybe we don’t? I know people who don’t want to conform to those rules or wear those uniforms and choose career paths where they don’t have to. In an ideal world, we’d all have that kind of freedom to choose.

  4. I always liked Japanese art. Keep doing what your tattooing is just another expression of a beautiful art. Just because we use our bodies as canvases doesn’t mean that its wrong to get tattooed. I love my tattoos and would never change them. Each one tells a story of my beliefs and life.

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