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Japanese tattoo dilema


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Well, my artist and I have been talking about a sleeve for a while and I know that'll be my next endeavour, most likely with a chest panel. I've been trying to figure out some sort of idea he can work with (I find it easier to just give an idea and see what he comes up with. That's how the squidpant happened).

At first, I kept thinking that I love Japanese stuff, but that "everyone has big traditional Japanese pieces". On the other hand, they are popular for a reason...there is something to be said for tradition (and my artist does amazing tigers).

My squidpant (can you singularize squidpants?) is all Egyptian stuff, and I'm of Egyptian origin, so that's a no-brainer. I feel a little like doing a big Japanese piece would be like "stealing" a little from this culture, of which I am not part. The other side of that coin is that Japanese art is a huge part of tattoo culture (if you can call it that, and I do believe there is such a thing)...

I have a piece on my chest that is influenced from Norse mythology, and I was worried about offending people of Norse heritage, but it's far enough removed from the inspiration that I actually have to tell the story about it...

I don't know if I'm making sense here. Am I the only one who gets these feelings? Is traditional Japanese such an integral part of tattooing now that it is considered an implicit part of tattooing?

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Get what you want, not what other people like. It's your body and at the end of the day you have to wear it till your worm-food. As long as the tattoo is not regrettable in any way (joke tattoo?) or anything truly offensive (at your discretion) you will be OK. Remember everyone's threshold is different, tattoos in general are still not really "accepted" outside of the "cute upside-down script of 2 words", so be a "rebel" and do it! I have a Japanese tattoo and am nowhere near being of Japanese origin, but it looks great! (Oh yea FYI, from my understanding anything from "Norse culture/mythology", in Norway can be considered nationalist, which in turn is "bad") please any Norwegians correct me if wrong.

To sum up...you have to live with it, so get what you want and don't let others influence the decision.

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Think less. Get tattooed more!

Joking aside, although your point is very valid, it kinda doesn't matter. In my experience foreign cultures (i.e. any not your own, except Maori) don't really get offended when someone gets a tattoo influenced by their culture. I'm not sure, but this idea of offending whole cultures seems to spring from the days of usenet or early forums where there was more typing than tattooing going on.

I encounter variations of this question all the time. My answer usually is "it doesn't matter" think about everything else in your life and it's cultural authenticity. Think about the language you speak, the food you eat, the clothes you wear etc, etc. unless you are part of a tribe or Japanese, there's a good chance you live a fairly multicultural life without realising it.

But yeah, I'd say Japanese tattooing is one of the cornerstones of tattoo culture. Yes there is such a thing. To me "tattoo culture" is more interesting and valid than "tattoo lifestyle" maybe I don't act, socialise, party, work, fuck, drink, ride transportation, dress or eat like others in this culture but they still accept me as a friend, peer or brother when we meet, for the first time, or the hundredth time, anywhere in the world.

That's not to say having a sleeve will give you access to a global network of friends but 'tattoo' is a thing in, and of itself. Your Japanese tattoo won't really be a Japanese tattoo, it will be a Japanese style tattoo hopefully executed with love, effort, craft, and respect for its origins. Which is more than can be said for much of our modern lives.

Also, traditional arts and crafts are dying out in their native countries around the world. It's often foreigner's interest that keeps them alive.

With that in mind, the idea of offending a culture that allows its traditions to die through adopting some of those traditions seems a little redundant to me.

After all is said and done, I hope you get a tattoo, for you, that makes you happy.

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if anyone ever said anything about origin or reasoning behind your asian themed tattoo just stop them and say its ok I like japanese food or I know a 1/4 japanese person then talk about natural dog food.

Anyone who asks deserves your random response

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Yeah, I think I'm OK with the Norse stuff. It's this piece, and it's inspired by Fenrir:


It's actually a coverup of this piece I got almost 20 years ago:


(bigger shot for scale)


So, basically, we covered a wolf with a bigger wolf. I call it my recursive wolf.

As you can imagine, I doubt I'll ever be confused with a white supremacist!

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I'm ethnically Japanese. On behalf of my people, I give you a pass. Enjoy your tattoo :-)

Actually it's funny because as I understand and simplify it, there was one point in history when it was illegal for Japanese people to get tattoos. The only people that could get the old school japanese style tattoo work from Japanese tattooists without the Government freaking out were the foreigners. So if you want to get really old school about it, you're continuing tradition. Ha ha.

Have fun, get what you want, make yourself happy.

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I'm not offended at that at all. I guess I just got in my own head, and forgot that, sometimes, cool art is just cool art!

We're coming up with ideas for the sleeve, and one thing I was thinking of was also doing a scientific-themed piece...I thought those would be separate things, but my artist is actually enthused at the possibility of doing a scientific piece in a Japanese style (so, DNA helixes, molecules, etc, but in a Japanese style). Not sure what's going to come out of his head, so I'll have to see if it works then.

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