Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Tattoos: One Bad-ass Cat

My extremely swollen calf moments after my tattoo was complete.
Tattoo - Bakeneko
Body Part - Left Calf
Tattoo Artist – Hori Shin
Location - The 2012 Rites of Passage Festival; Melbourne, Australia
Date - April 2012

Part of the reason why I got a Bakeneko tattoo was that getting a tebori or hand-poked tattoo is on my bucket list. When I found out that there would be Japanese tattoo artists at the 2012 Rites of Passage Festival, I knew it was my chance to cross it off my list.

Having had cats as pets most of my life is what originally drew me to the tale of the Bakeneko. Bakeneko is loosely translated to “monster cat” or “shape-shifting cat”, with those depicted with forked tails also referred to as Nekomata.  

Click here to find out more about this Japanese folklore creature.

All I told Crystal (the woman organising appointments for the Japanese artists), was that I wanted a bakeneko tattooed on my left calf. I always love the surprise of not seeing my tattoo design until the last moment. 

If you search bakeneko on Google Images you’ll see various incarnations of this shape-shifting cat. There are anime versions and others with traditional clothing. I really had no idea what to expect. I had nothing to be worried about. I was blown away by the detail of Hori Shin’s drawing.

The bakeneko was tattooed on me using both traditional and modern methods of tattooing.

The outline and some of the colour was done with an electric tattoo machine. It enabled Hori Shin to get perfect lines and tattoo the finer details on the face and the jacket.

The instrument used for hand poking looks similar to that of a paint brush, but instead of bristles, there are many tiny needles.

Although I was being tattooed in the Royal Exhibition Building, surrounded by thousands of people, there was this calmness about me. There is something so relaxing about being tattooed in this method. If it were possible for every tattoo to be a combination of the traditional and the modern method of tattooing, I would choose it every single time. 

I think a trip to Japan is in order. 

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