Tokyo Memories Day 10: Tebori Handpoke Tattoo with Horimitsu

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 10, December 23rd, 2019

My tattoo with Horimitsu started at 12, and was at his studio in Ikebukuro within walking distance from Sunshine City. As such, I left at 11:30 to give myself plenty of time- even still, when I reached the tagged spot on Google Maps, I couldn’t tell which building was Horimitsu’s. I found a wooden structure with some signage and a doorbell, but Google Translate didn’t really tell me what it said. I thought, well, this is mainly a residential area, so maybe it’s Horimitsu, or a business that can direct me to him.

Street-view from a skywalk

I rang the buzzer and waited. A hunched, tired looking old man answered, standing in his dark entrance, and I knew right away this was not Horimitsu’s studio… I blurted “Horimitsu desu…ka…?” and the man sort of smiled and said “ah… Horimitsu…san…” and beckoned me to follow him. He hobbled along with his back bent at an improbable angle, heaving himself up the couple of steps to the building across the street. Tucked there in a corner was a door covered in cool stickers. He told me to knock. Soon, Horimitsu answered amidst my desperate apologies to this kind old man: “Doumo sumimasen! Gomennasai! Totemo gomennasai, doumo arigatou gozaimashita!!!” The man told Horimitsu something, probably like “she knocked on my door so I took her to you” with a bit of a smile (likely translation? “another damn gaijin mistook my business for your tattoo place, jeez…!”)

After apologies from Horimitsu, I entered, and he bid me sit on his couch, where a coffee table sat covered in tattoo magazines, including the one featuring John Mayer on the cover with his Horimitsu tattoo on full display.

Master Horimitsu was quiet, charming, and knew quite a lot of English. We decided on the placement of my tattoo and he began with the linework, which is done with a regular tattoo gun. Right before starting he said “Okay… starting… prepare… my tattoo hurts more than other tattoos!” ok thanks, got it… ^-^’

His linework was indeed thick and a tad painful at times, but I think I did okay aside from a few grimaces. As he worked on my arm, we listened to Christmas jazz & chill music, and I gazed up at his impressive wall of stencils from previous tattoo designs.

After a while, maybe 45 minutes, he said “Hai. Tebori ne” and started tebori (hand-poke) method just like that. Amazingly, it didn’t hurt any more than any other tattoo I’ve had! I could hear the needles puncturing my skin again and again, but it wasn’t bad.

We chatted on and off through my tattoo- about Japanesed tattoo laws and the current court cases, Japanese food, Canadian weather and seasons, our pets, Dustin, teaching English in Japan, onsen etiquette, all kinds of things. He is a very accomplished and impressive man, but also very humble and kind. ❤ I gave him some maple candies, a card, and a magnet with my designs, and he thanked me.

The tattoo was over in just 2 hours! It really does capture the energy and cuteness of Tegan!

You can see my arm was breaking out- I think I was a bit too liberal with applying the creams to my other new tattoos >.<

I said my goodbyes to Horimitsu, and as I was standing outsite setting up my GPS directions he dashed out of the studio, patted my shoulder and said farewell once more, and ran across the road towards the old man’s house/business. I feel certain he was giving the man a gift (he had something in his hand) in apology for my earlier intrusion!

I walked a bit to the Ikebukuro Ichiran Ramen, where I enjoyed another bowl of delicious tonkatsu (no waiting in line this time!) and laughed at the bathroom that had something like 12 toilet paper dispensers mounted to the wall- you won’t run out of TP at this Ichiran!

I took a couple of detours before heading back to the hotel, spending a considerable amount of time browsing at Animate, where I bought some vampire comics and BluRay musicals. I also stopped at the Gakuen cafe for a drink or two and met a couple of nice girls from New Zealand, and chatted for a bit.

Later on, back at the hotel, Dusty and I enjoyed a great assortment at the buffet on the basement floor. The dinner spread was elegant and fancy, but my favorite was the dessert- cakes, squares, and soft-serve ice cream, plus a chocolate fountain!

Now I am doing laundry on the 6th floor and tidying up our hotel room -_- zzZZZzzzZZZ

Tokyo Memories Day 9: Harajuku Fashion Walk, Shopping, Snakes, and Rainy Ramen

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 9, December 22nd, 2019

This morning Dustin and I went up to the 3rd floor breakfast area and indulged in some very yummy omurice together. Then we went back to Harajuku and walked the gorgeous path to Meiji shrine. ❤ I got some delicious mitarashi dango on my way out.

I participated in the Harajuku Fashion Walk, which was a cool experience! I met a lot of other people done up in different styles, everything from colourful decora, frilly lolita, Christmas inspired, to intense gothic.

I wore my own designs which I had printed onto fabric: a skull lino print on my tights, cute 90’s illustration toy dress, and a silky scarf covered in a digital illustration of my own lips and tongue. I ended up buying a sweater later from an artist at Design Festa to complete my look (and it was rainy so I was starting to get chilly!) The girl who I bought the sweater from gave me an Umaibo stick and wished me a Merry Christmas ❤

FASHION. F-F-F-F-F-F-FASHION.

The fashion walk stopped at several locations to get group pictures. We got a lot of stares! We made a very eclectic bunch for sure. We also saw some people on motorcycles dressed in Christmas & Santa costumes.

After the walk I booted it to Tokyu Plaza since it was raining hard and I needed an umbrella. I settled on a black parasol-type umbrella from Lips & Hips.

Then I checked out Laforet, where I got a couple of cute things at the Sailor Moon store, and also visited a couple of REALLY cool fashion shops with street-fashion, lolita, mod, and more. I got a really awesome hoodie with a pissed-off looking teddy-bear on it who’s about to eat a cupcake(?) and it says YUMMY. The man who sold it to me had a very cool Jrock style. The store was called WRouge.

I finally had a chance to visit the famously strange and colourful 6% DokiDoki store, with its huge decorated bear at the entrance; I just got a sticker and a couple of pins, and snapped a few pics!

Next, I found my way to the Snake Center, where I enjoyed a delicious Kuromitsu (?) latte and held 4 different snakes, including a huge ball python named Jagger! Such good, cute snakes T-T I love them.

The last thing I did before trudging back to the hotel in my wet socks and shoes was to wait in a 30min lineup in the pouring rain for Ichiren Ramen. It was worth it though! You get your own tiny booth and stool, and order with a ticket: perfect for introverts or those who are feeling overstimulated! I drank every last drop of the delicious umami broth, which warmed me up and gave me the strength to get home in the windy chill.

Tomorrow is my tebori (handpoke) tattoo with Horimitsu! Excited!

Tokyo Memories Day 8: Seeing Friends, Matcha Cafe, Anpan, and Vampire Rose

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 8, December 21st, 2019

Another busy day! My morning got off to a rough start, as I was going to explore Ikebukuro a bit more but I suddenly developed severe heartburn while browsing doujinshi at Mandarake. I guess eating pudding and Christmas Cake for breakfast wasn’t the best idea?…

So, I booked it to a pharmacy, feeling worse by the minute, and managed to ask for heartburn medication. After taking it back to the hotel and using it, I curled up in a pathetic, sweaty heap on my bed.

It worked though! After healing up for a couple of hours, I headed out to Kagurazaka to meet up with Maika and Marie at Saryo Matcha Cafe. I got a bit lost (when don’t I?) but eventually found them, and after waiting outside for about 30 minutes (popular spot!) we got in.

We had so much to talk about- it was so nice to see them again. We got on really well (though Maikasan was terrified of my new spider tattoo!) and I got a delicious matcha latte, as well as my first ever anmitsu (AMAZING!). Maika gave me some chopstick rests that she made herself with leftover pottery clay ❤ so nice!

Marie and I, in awe of the lovely anmitsu ❤

Maika had to go, so Marie and I left for Ginza to meet up with Ritsu at the Vampire Cafe (Dustin didn’t feel up to dealing with vampires tonight…). Marie told me that she and Ritsu got married! I had no idea! AND they are expecting a baby! Wow! ❤

We had some time before our late reservation (8:30) so we went to Kimuraya and got anpan buns- I just ate mine now and HOLY! THEY ARE SO GOOD!

We met up with Ritsu at the Vampire Cafe, where we had various dishes to share, like roast beef, pizza, potato fries, and salad, but of course each of them had creepy names like “slave feed”, “sacrificial meat”, etc. It’s the Vampire cafe, after all!

Cutting Rose’s Love Letter Pizza.

I finally gave Rose-Sama the folder full of artwork I made for him. I was so nervous and stammered and looked down, but Marie said that he smiled and complimented my art, and proposed we take a picture together again. This time we took our picture in the hallway with the red blood cells on the floor casting an eerie glow up at us.

Earl Rose has me in his spell…

Such a fun night. It can be lonely as a foreigner in Japan, so it was very nice to meet up with some friends ❤

I came back to the hotel so late that I was locked out of the Sunshine City building and had to ask a security guard how I could get into my hotel (I had to walk all the way around the complex to access a separate hotel entrance o.o)

Tokyo Memories Day 7: The Wackiest Izakaya in Tokyo

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 7, December 20th, 2019

I woke up so tired today T-T but even though part of me wanted to nap the afternoon away, I can’t bear to waste any of my time in Tokyo, so I worked on getting my postcards written and package packed, and mailed them out at the post office.

In the afternoon Dustin and I headed to an area we’d never been before- Shimbashi. I had a reservation for us for the Kagaya Frog is Stranger Than Fiction izakaya, known for its owner who does lots of wacky things to entertain his guests.

After being seated by Kagaya-san, our visit began with a remote controlled Anpanman rolling up to our table to deliver our hand towels. Kagaya-san let us pick our chopstick rests from a tray (DBZ characters) and made them interact on our table. We ordered cola (Dustin) and beer (me) and he had us choose which country’s “style” we would like our drinks served in. We chose England, so Kagaya-san brought out his famous teddy bear and made him walk around, wave at us, stretch, and finally pick up the tray of drinks. As he (well, Teddy), “carried” the drinks toward the table, he grunted and kept exclaiming “I’VE GOT IT! I CAN DO… IT… I CAN ….DO IT!”, and everyone cheered him on YOU CAN DO IT, TEDDY! Finally, with an “I CAN DO IT….AHHHHHHH!!!” Teddy gave one last burst of energy, charging toward our table and giving us our drinks. It was absolutely adorable and hilarious.

The food menu is a mystery- you choose a phrase and Kagaya-san makes you sing it to him!

The other visitors, all locals, ordered throughout the evening, in “Brazil” (lively dancing with puffed sleeves and party horns) “China” (Kagaya-san jumped clean over their table suddenly and began chopping at them with martial arts) and “France”, where Kagaya-san emerged to dramatic French romance music with an easel and a hat and drew portraits of all of the women in the room! I was so happy and surprised, the drawing he made of me is such a special souvenir, and really looks like me! After finishing each drawing he would kiss it with a flourish… the drawing of me he also rubbed in his crotch for a second as he closed his eyes, which the locals thought was HILARIOUS (and I did too!).

It would be understandable if the sole draw of this place was its funny owners antics, but the food was also AMAZING! Some traditional food with vegetables, tofu, tiny battered fish, chicken, beef, salad, and curry.

A few other memorable moments:

  • When Kagaya-san touched foreheads with Dustin and stroked his beard, exclaiming “oh, softly touch, sofuto touchi”.
  • The locals warming up to us and yelling “KAMPAIIII! JAPANESE STYLE!” cheering with us
  • When Kagaya-san finished drawing a portrait and Dustin said “Very good!” in French, the locals loved it
  • When I gave Kagaya-san a small gift from Canada (maple candies, a card, and a drawing of him and Teddy) he was very thankful and said “Thank you. I’m surprised!”
  • When they saw I gave Kagaya-san a gift, everyone started digging out random stuff from their bags and giving them to me! Candy, snacks, a bag-holder gadget, it was so nice.

A really wonderful night!

Thank you, Kagaya-san ❤

On our way back to the hotel I got some okinawan sea-salt soft-serve. So good ❤

Tokyo Memories Day 6: Asakusa Hagoita Festival and… Visiting A Host Club!?

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 6, December 19th, 2019

This morning Dusty and I visited Asakusa for the first time. Senso-ji temple is way bigger than I had imagined!

It was the last day of the Hagoita festival, so there were stalls selling tasty street food alongside the temple: we enjoyed tasty choco-bananas and a sort of meat-stick with rice wrapped in bacon and covered in bits of cheese. SO GOOD, also messy!

I got a small Hagoita (a decorative wooden bat which is a good luck charm) and a mask of a red demon for Dad.

Check out that Frozen Hagoita! I love the Kabuki ones best.

We also saw this puppy in a pet-store (?) window T-T ❤

After Asakusa, we visited Akiba briefly- particularly Yodobashi camera, where we also went up to a top floor and had some conveyor-belt sushi.

This evening I had a tour booked with a woman named Sachiko: a “Girl’s Night-Life In Shinjuku”, mainly visiting a Host Club! Normally tourists aren’t allowed in, but with Sachiko as my guide I got a glimpse at this strange world of manufactured flirtation and overpriced drinks.

We met at Shinjuku station and headed out into Kabukicho. We stopped briefly at a konbini where Sachiko told me the rules of the clubs and expectations for first-time visitors. Most importantly, we couldn’t let slip that we were there on a one-time tour experience, because the staff depend on commissions from repeat customers, so it would not be a good vibe.

The club was in an outwardly drab and non-descript building, but as soon as we stepped off the elevator we were surrounded by luxe, cavernous spaces and perfumed air. We were seated and drank shochu mixed with orange juice as we chatted with the first hosts to our table.

The men were as stylishly groomed as the interior of the club. Sachiko did most of the talking at first while I sipped at my drink. Once we got into the swing of conversation I of course showed off pics of Tegan and Butters, and we also discussed various anime and manga series, as well as J-horror (I guess the Japanese horror movies I love so much are not as well known as I would have thought!)

It was interesting, if at times a bit awkward. We spoke almost entirely in Japanese the whole time, making me acutely aware of my limitations… at one point a guy asked “so, how do you find boys in Japan compared to Canada?” and I replied “hmm, I think that generally most Japanese men have better style”, but I didn’t realize at first that I used the word “kare” to mean boy, which, while technically correct, is colliqually used almost always to mean “boyfriend”. So, they laughed and said “are they going to fight eachother!?!?” at which point I realized I had basically said “I think (my) boyfriend in Japan has much better style than (my) boyfriend in Canada” LOL OOPS. IT ISN”T LIKE THAT, I SWEAR ^-^’

The hosts would visit our table two at a time, and each would give their business card. Ryu’s business card was by-far the most impressive (hard luxe-golden shining plastic with a stylish headshot of himself) but Kido’s is also cool, a sparkling city skyline with a big heart constellation. Kido was the one who talked to me the most, asked to see more pictures on my phone, and complimented me on my cosplay and stuff, so he was the Host that I chose to have revisit our table at the end of our stay. Sachiko chose Ryu. They walked us out to the elevator together when it was time to leave.

All in all, it was a bit less intense than I was expecting- it sort of felt similar to just chatting with strangers in a bar. Still, an interesting memory and an experience!

I stopped at some gachapon and crane games at Adores on the way back to the hotel- man, I wasted like 2000 yen on nothing! How did we win so many little toys and plushies last time we visited!? Dustin even got a decent sized Kirby plush when we came here on our last trip… maybe Taito station is easier to win at than Adores? Or maybe I just suck T-T

Tokyo Memories- Day 3: Two Tattoos, MewTwo, And Nintendo, Too

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 3, December 16th, 2019

I’m freaking exhausted but I need to get this incredible day down on paper before I go to bed! Today was tattoo day at Studio Muscat, so I headed out to the train station early to find the place (amidst some major construction in Shibuya). The train ride from Ikebukuro to Shibuya (around 7:50-8:20ish?) was INTENSE. I now know what it’s like to be squeezed into the train. I had never experienced it before, not even during our entire trip in 2017, but this was legit cram-packed. I had strangers intimately squished against me from every angle, and we moved and swayed as one big wave of humans. Something about it was sort of beautiful- everyone just stayed still and quiet and carried on with their routine despite having their nose pressed against a stranger’s armpit. The pressure against me from all angles reminded me of how a mother swaddles her baby- I was swaddled with and by humanity today.

So finally I made it to Studio Muscat and had wonderful sessions with Haruka (my tattoo of a cat resting on a traditional ball bell toy w. ribbon) and Eiji (my tattoo of a nephilia clavata spider). Both were very kind and professional, and thanked me for the cards I wrote them and the maple candies I brought them from Canada. I also chatted with some American tourists who came in to inquire about tattoos. 🙂

Catching Pokemon inside the studio as I wait for my appointment…

At some points I was cursing myself WHO’S IDEA WAS IT TO GET TWO TATTOOS IN THE SAME DAY?! (mine) as it was painful at times getting all stages of both tattoos done in one day with no numbing (the highlights of Haruka’s tattoo hurt like a BIIITCH) but I’m glad I got them done!

After my tattoos I visited the next-door cafe “Reism Stand” because I had the tattoo-shakes and needed to eat something. I got a hot cafe latte and some amazing, thick French Toast with apple and cinnamon.

Next, I headed to Shibuya to meet up with Dustin. I briefly perused Village Vanguard (a claustrophobic cavern of novelties and trinkets) and then checked out the Punyus in Shibuya 109 where I could actually find clothes that fit me!

Dusty and I headed to the brand new Parco building and had a lot of fun exploring the new Pokemon store– huge glass tank with MewTwo suspended inside! Poke-nostalgia! The store also features a new graffiti art theme.

The Capcom and Shonen Jump stores were pretty cool, too.

We waited in line for about 30 minutes (a line that extended down a winding stairwell!) so that we could browse the extremely popular new Nintendo Store! I went to the one in New York years ago (2007?ish?) on my choir trip for High School, but this one is apparently the first one in Japan! I spent a significant amount of money there o.o

Lastly, we explored the basement level which is full of unique and quirky resturaunts and cafes. We stopped at Tyffonium Cafe, a whimsical spot with a sort of steampunk-circus vibe. The cafe uses AR cards for augmented reality that can be displayed on your table using a tablet. Each parfait you order comes with a different AR card (which you get to keep!) that gives you a different visual show, each seeming to be based on/tie-ins to particular video games. I chose the “Tarot” parfait, and it was so strange and wonderful! It had a gummy ball, clear and round on top, and an umbrella of gelatin which draped over the parfait. I love textures, so it was FUN to eat!

My Tarot parfait
Dustin’s parfait

Tokyo Memories – Day 2: Feeling Fancy in Harajuku

A month ago Dustin and I began our trip in Tokyo! So, as with our last trip, I’ve decided to copy out each day of my travel journal into my blog. Each day for the next 18 days I will share a post of what we did in Tokyo a month prior.

So, let’s get into it!

From Shauna’s Journal

Day 2, December 15th, 2019

I woke up at like 4am so I decided to go to the 6th floor and do our laundry (***note from current day Shauna- if you’re wondering why we already had laundry to do on day 2… I packed VERY LIGHTLY). There were hardly any English instructions in the laundry room and I couldn’t find any laundry detergent, so I used some hotel hand soap… then I used my translation app and I’m pretty sure the machine I used says “no detergent required”… -_- I used the all-in-one washer/dryer and all the other ones said to use detergent so I didn’t imagine… hope it won’t cause any problems!

O hai thar

I can’t get back to sleep T-T Today I have a hair appt. and my first ever nail appt. so I am excited!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

WOW. I had a really fun day! I went to Harajuku early so I would have plenty of time to find Nail Salon Avarice and Sozo Hair & Make. As such, I had time to explore a little, so I bought some gifts for people at the big Daiso on Takeshita street and I also got a couple of PomuPomuPurin items at Sanrio Vivatix.

Once I located Avarice (it was in a tricky location) I had over an hour to kill, so I decided to visit a cafe. I found a really cute one just down the road from Avarice called Hiroman’s Coffee, and it was a great choice: not too busy (since it’s away from the main tourist area) and so cute- vines cover the top of the exterior, and inside are lots of dainty and sweet decor. They also had cute parfait and snack options, so I got an “animal pudding” (pudding stamped with a cute pig, with a dot of whipped cream, a maraschino cherry, and berry sauce). I also got a strawberry iced milk with tapioca, and a cup of coffee. ❤

My nail appt. at Avarice was so cool- the place is on the second floor of a multi-purpose building, and when I stepped inside it had a very cool, laid-back vibe: cement walls decorated with “souvenirs from our clients”, mostly from trips to places like Mexico. 2 women were having their nails done as I entered, and after I was seated they put The Holiday (one of my fave xmas movies!) on.

Akira, who I’d made my appointment with, is an award-winning nail artist with 10 years experience, and he blew me away with what he did for me. 3 hours of insanely detailed, skilled work. I asked for nails inspired by the works of Yamamoto Takato, and he did it! Skulls, vampires, ethereal eyeballs, deadly flowers- gorgeous.

nails by @aki.laccio based on the artworks of Yamamoto Takato

With 5 minutes to spare, I ran across the street to Sozo Hair & Make for my hair appointment. It was the best salon experience I’ve ever had. Yusuke washed my hair and gave me a scalp massage, then before cutting my hair massaged my shoulders very well (I was stiff from sitting for 3 hours prior!)

He gave me the hime (“princess”) style cut I’ve been dreaming of for months. I haven’t had a haircut in over a year (since I was saving $$$ for this trip) so it feels good to have a fresh cut <3. Yusuke was meticulous, and also made me feel relaxed.

The assistant was a girl from Vancouver who was very friendly and we chatted about Canada, my nails, the YMM wildfire of 2016, and other stuff.

I asked Yusuke if he could recommend someplace to eat, as I was pretty hungry by this point, and he told me about a ramen shop called Hajime, so I stopped there for a bite. I got soup all over my white shirt ^-^’ but luckily it came off pretty easily for the most part.

I finished off my day picking up some souvenirs from Oriental Bazaar (traditional handicrafts) and the big Kiddyland store on Omotesando. The Omotesando Christmas lights seemed to go on forever- beautiful!

I caught a train back to Ikebukuro and thought I could figure out my way back to Sunshine City, but I ended going in circles a few times. I definitely gave my legs a good workout today.