Inked in Japan Part 2

Somehow, I feel like this will become a long series of posts… However, a few months ago I wrote THIS POST about Japan’s tattoo culture as well as a description of my body art and its meaning in detail. I got a new piece during the spring of last year, and have had a lot of questions/criticism about it. I’m currently working on another piece that will get its time once it’s finished:) So… here we are again, a short and sweet post for you all…

I don’t get ink to show off, to be cool, to stand out, or to set myself apart. I get ink to tell my story. To remember the things I’m grateful for and striving towards. For the appreciation of the art itself. I get ink because I am fascinated with the art, the artists, and the freedom to do it. I love talking about my tattoos, and at the same time, actually become shy when people ask about them. It’s because when they ask, I have to tell my story, and become transparent. It forces me to always be honest, and to always share my life with people.

Before I explain about the piece, or even show you, I just want to thank Boog for taking the time during his guest spot in Hirosaki to scratch out one of my favorite pieces. He’s known for his street style black and white tattooing, and is a great artist and a great dude. One the of things I love most about this piece is that it was done entirely freehand. I wanted something that resembled a sketch, with no color, basic, bare bones, but still beautiful. And that’s exactly what I got.

I had some trouble coming up with a name for this piece, but I did my best…


She still doesn’t have a name, and I don’t know that she ever will. The style can be known as “The Day of the Dead Girl” which is based on a Mexican holiday that is held to celebrate the life of friends or family that have passed away. Throughout my life, and in the past few years, I have lost some people very close to my heart. Two, in particular that meant a great deal to me. One was taken by cancer, and the other by suicide. One was retired and the other only a few weeks away from graduating high school. I often hear people say things like, “We all die, there is beauty even in death, everything happens for a reason”. Words that I’m sure they mean to comfort, only kill. I feel as though sometimes, to cope, we try to stop feeling the way we feel, thinking that it will solve things. But it won’t. True healing doesn’t happen by forgetting and moving on. It happens through letting our hearts break and be put back together. It happens when we admit we are broken and lost, and invite change to happen. It happens through being human. There is no beauty in death.

But there is still beauty somewhere. Today, in fact, I read something that is the perfect pairing for this piece of art. It’s from a book called, The Return of the Prodigal Son. It reminds me that it’s OK to feel like there are no answers nor beauty in death or brokenness. “Our brokenness may appear beautiful, but our brokenness has no other beauty but the beauty that comes from the compassion that surrounds it.” Death, no matter if it’s physical or metaphorical causes brokenness. Brokenness is never beautiful. What is beautiful, is the world and people around us, and the response to comfort and care for us in our hurt.

I couldn’t decide whether to call this tattoo “Beauty” or “Broken”. And I love that this will be a constant struggle. Today, it is “Beauty”. In short, she is a reminder to me, that Death is not beautiful. But, it is the appreciation and celebration of life that death forces us to recognize that makes it beautiful. It reminds me that we are not invincible. And that life should not be taken for granted. It reminds me to remember we could be taken at any moment, so appreciate the people, the talent, the nature, and all the blessings that surround me. While I can.

This one I took after she was completely healed, it’s not as good as the first one, but gives it more of a straight-on angle.


2 thoughts on “Inked in Japan Part 2

  1. What a beautiful post. It really is. Please allow me to suggest an alternative perspective.

    No person is perfectly beautiful, and yet many of us fall in love with imperfect people. This is done by focusing on the things we find beautiful about the person, and turning a blind eye to the imperfections in our partners. (God know, I’m grateful my wife does this. :P)

    In a similar way, my strategy for avoiding being terrified on my own deathbed, is for me to focus on those “beautiful” aspects of death, so that I can leave this world with grace. I hope to live a long life, but even more than that I hope to greet death on friendly terms… when he finally comes to visit.

    Death is not beautiful, but as your eloquent quote suggests, death does keep some beautiful friends.

    When my father died almost 2 years ago, my family and I were broken in many ways. And I suspect there will be scars on our hearts that will never heal. Yet simultaneously, I found myself in the presence of beauty, albeit not flawless. We were impressed by the compassion of our friends, the outstanding examples of kindness and by strangers doing more than was necessary. Through my father’s passing, I have come to learn how similar we really were. I now also see a *vivid* reflection of my father in my brother, that I had never seen before.

    I completely agree that we should be allowed to feel deeply and honestly… I am fortunate perhaps; that I don’t feel compelled to feel only one thing at a time. 😀

    Thanks you again for your beautiful writing. I hope mine offers light.

  2. I love this series! And I love your introspective posts. I certainly do hope there will be many more to come!
    P.S. Remind me to read The Return of the Prodigal Son sometime. ^^

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