Showing posts with label harajuku. Show all posts
Showing posts with label harajuku. Show all posts

Friday, January 26, 2018

Japan 2017 | How to Get a Tattoo at Tokyo Three Tides {スリータイズ タトゥー/ 三巴刺青}

Ok I said that the highlight for our Japan trip last year for the boy was to see the capybaras soaking in an onsen at Saitama Children's Zoo, but I think getting his first traditional Japanese style tattoo at the famous Tokyo Three Tides tattoo shop isn't too far off either.

Traditional Japanese tattoos usually feature Japanese deities and monsters, mythical creatures such as dragons, but also animals e.g. birds, koi fish, tigers etc., and flowers such as sakura, peonies and chrysanthemums. There are specific rules like you can't tattoo Buddha below the waist as it's very disrespectful, or clouds can only be used above the waist as they represent the sky... and there are also certain ways things are drawn, certain colours that are usually used, certain meanings to the different symbols, and how certain motifs are put together e.g. karashishi with peonies. Sounds complicated, but very meaningful.  

It was a tick off his bucket list and to be honest, I'm kinda jealous that he did it without me!! haha.. 

Note: We've gotten tattooed at Cat Claw Kyoto by Ritsu years before, but not in traditional Japanese style. One day, I hope to have a master do a tebori {手彫り, tattooing by hand & not tattoo guns} tattoo for me.

As a foreigner in Japan, it's not often easy getting things done if you don't speak or understand Japanese.

It's better in the city where there often are English signs or people speaking English around to help, but nonetheless Japan still is a country that holds traditions and cultural etiquette in high respect. I'm sharing his experience so that if you're thinking about getting a tattoo in Tokyo Three Tides, or anywhere in Japan in general, you'd know what to expect and do #yourewelcome

Tattoos in Japan are still a complex issue. On one hand, more native Japanese, especially the younger generation, seem more open towards them, yet on the other hand, they are still stigmatised for their association with the Yakuza {Japanese gangs} who pledge their allegiance with full-body markings.

People with visible tattoos are still not allowed in {most?} onsens, public baths or even swimming pools. This applies to both Japanese, and foreigners. You cannot show your tattoos at certain areas like gyms, and definitely not at work in the office. Some jobs don't even accept you if you have a tattoo.

{When I lived in Japan, the only times I went into the onsen was if it was late at night when no other people were around or if it was a private onsen. I didn't have as many obvious tattoos as I do now, but even then I had to cover them up even at the gym and at work.}

Last year, an Osaka court even upheld a ruling that only medical doctors can legally administer tattoos in Japan, meaning tattoo artists are now technically committing a crime every time they work on their art!! Tattooing, along with laser hair removal and chemical peels, is considered medical work since it involves needle piercing the skin. I'm not sure how vigorously the government is tracking this, but it certainly is food for thought.

It's a shame really, as traditional Japanese tattoos are so exquisite and there are many highly skilled and coveted tattoo artists living there, or even originating from there.

Three Tides Tattoo, is world-renowned in the tattoo industry. Their tattoo artists are well-known in Japan and overseas, and mostly specialise in Japanese-style tattoos, if I'm not wrong.

I reckon one of the reasons why they are so sought-after, other than because their distinct design and tattooing skills, is because they are foreigner-friendly {e.g. staff can speak English, located in popular tourist areas, active on social media} so a lot of their clientele are foreigners who help to spread their name to their friends and families overseas and online.

Anyway, they have 2 locations in Osaka and Tokyo. Their Tokyo shop is located in Harajuku, a little off the main Takashita-dori street.

We've been down that street many times and actually I was the one wanted to go in first, because I wanted to buy some socks from them haha #truestory

Their artists also design goods such as bags, T-shirts, towels, socks, enamel pins, figurines etc. for sale and had collaborations with Porter, Puma, Atmos and even Sanrio for Hello Kitty x Three Tides Tattoo mugs!!

Unfortunately, those mugs aren't available for sale anymore boohoo..

We went in and the boy said he wanted to get a tattoo. Whhhhaaat??! I know he's been thinking of getting a new one for a while but didn't think it was going to be on this trip heh. Anyway we talked to the receptionist / tattoo artist at the counter and she checked the schedule. She speaks English but is obviously more comfortable to converse in Japanese so I helped in the translation and luckily for the boy, Ichibay had a few slots open.. yay!!

Hide Ichibay, is according to one of the boy's tattoo artist friends, is apparently "a legend" in the industry by the way haha. See Ichibay's work on Instagram or in this write-up about him.

Ichibay wasn't in though and we couldn't confirm a tattoo slot until the design was discussed with him so we left. That was a Saturday and the next 2 days was spent communicating back and forth via email with Rita about the boy's tattoo design, who in turn related it to Ichibay.

To prevent miscommunication, I drafted the emails for the boy in English and Japanese, and sent photos for reference haha. As the boy and Douglas, would know... I am very, very anal when it comes to the tattoo details because I believe that they are meant to be permanent.

I reckon some people are quite flippant about getting inked because there are a few ways you can remove tattoos nowadays e.g. through lasers, or you can even cover up unwanted tattoos. However, personally I feel that if you are getting a tattoo, you must think through it carefully and choose something meaningful that you can live with for life. Don't get something that you will regret and if you're not 100% satisfied from the beginning, don't get it.

Above is a cost guide from Tokyo Three Tides website that I translated. On Monday, we went back to the shop for the boy to talk personally to Ichibay about the design, confirm the tattoo slot, and to make his deposit of 10,800yen {non-refundable, tax included}.

On Thursday, the boy had his tattoo appointment in the afternoon.

Tokyo Three Tides has 3 floors. The first floor is the reception, merchandise store and has small couch to wait at. It is open to public.

The second floor is the workspace for 3-4 tattoo artists, and the top floor is another workspace which I assume is a tatami room where they do the tebori tattoos, and the rest-room. The second and third floor are only accessible to those with appointments, as space is tight and they want to protect the privacy of the clients too.

Ichibay let me up with the boy, but since it was full house on top and perhaps they were worried Lil Pumpkin might accidentally disturb the artists at work, she had to wait on the couch below... which she was ok to do with a video to entertain herself haha.

I just stayed with the boy at the beginning to help him check the size & position of the tattoo {original art by Ichibay} and watch Ichibay at work for a while, then went down to wait with Lil Pumpkin. Ichibay is a very efficient tattoo artist and even though it was estimated to take around 1-1.5hrs, I think he took only 1hr to complete the tattoo.

Granted, it wasn't a very elaborate tattoo but it was significant to the boy nonetheless. He says that it reminded him of Xixi, one of his clinic pets that passed away some time back.

Tokyo Three Tides tattoo artists charge per hour. Each artist's price would be different and Ichibay's price was 20,000yen per hour {as of Dec 2017}. On top of that, the tattoo studio also charges 4,000yen for used materials and 8% service tax. The exact price, however, will also depend on the design/size that you and the tattoo artist agree on.

When making payment, your deposit {10,800yen} is deducted from the total amount. Do note as well that if you use credit cards, you will have to pay I think 3%? more for merchant fee, so it's best if you pay by cash.

He was mighty pleased with the tattoo and I think it's very well done too, especially in the shading. So happy for hubby!!

  • Advance appointment reservation is preferred, but walk-ins & on-the-day tattoos are accepted if available. Good for tourists!
  • You can choose your preferred tattoo artist and design, obviously. 
  • However, do note that the English ability of the tattoo artists may be limited. If possible, bring someone who speaks Japanese with you when talking to the artist about your design / during your appointment to make sure the artist fully understands your needs and ideas. On the day of the boy's tattoo, there was a foreigner receptionist there that could speak English, but I'm not sure how's her translation skills and if she works there full-time.
  • Confirmation of tattoo slots are only made after tattoo designs are confirmed.
  • When confirming tattoo slots, you need to show identification and pay the deposit {either in-store or via PayPal}.  
  • The deposit is non-refundable, even in cancellation.
  • If you can't make your appointment, you may change it at no extra fee but notification must be given in at least a week in advance.
  • Arriving over 30mins late for the appointment without prior notification will result in cancellation & forfeit of deposit. 
  • You can go back to the shop 1 month later for them to check on your tattoo after it has healed. 
  • If necessary, they will help you to touch up the colours, make alterations etc. for free then.

Tokyo Three Tides {スリータイズ タトゥー/ 三巴刺青}
3-24-2 Jingumae, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo {東京都渋谷区神宮前3-24-2}
Opening hours: Daily 12noon - 8pm
Tel: +81 03-6455-5908

P.S. I actually started a tattoo blog, Red Shibui, haha some time back as a pet project. Haven't had time to update it but if you want to know some general FAQs about getting a tattoo, pop by to have a look!

Other things to do in Japan:

Useful info for Japan travel:

Monday, April 20, 2015

Japan 2015 | Sakura at Ueno Park, Tokyo ❀

Lil Pumpkin and I spent 5 days alone in Japan as the boy had to settle some work and stuff back home. He joined us later and the day after he arrived, we headed down to Ueno Park {上野公園, Ueno Ko-en} for a picnic and Sakura viewing. It was to be his first proper ohanami experience!!

Ueno Park is a really large public park and used to be part of Kaneiji Temple, once one of the city's largest and wealthiest temples and a family temple of the ruling Tokugawa clan during the Edo Period. It was converted into one of Japan's first Western style parks and opened to the public in 1873.

Ueno Park is famous for the many museums found on its grounds, especially the Tokyo National Museum, the National Museum for Western Art, the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum and the National Science Museum. It is also home to Ueno Zoo, Japan's first zoological garden. The zoo is pretty big and worth a visit if you haven't been before.

It was a weekday and we arrived around 10+ am {even earlier than our visit to Yoyogi Park} but YET there were still so many people!! This is the crowd walking towards Ueno Park...

Ueno Park is one of Tokyo's most popular and lively cherry blossom spots with more than 1000 cherry trees lining its central pathway. Not the best place to come if you hate crowds, but one of the prettiest and most convenient places for ohanami since it's just a few minutes walk away from JR Ueno station.

At the park entrance there's a big board with the park's map and a reminder to visitors to be careful with the trees, throw away their rubbish, and be considerate to others who come for ohanami parties, which must all end by 8pm.

Most of the designated areas for picnicking along the central pathway were taken up already by the time we arrived. Park wardens will walk around to make sure that visitors set up mats within the proper areas and do not block the areas for walking.

Hugging her daddy tight tight... Lil Pumpkin really missed him during the days when he wasn't around and kept asking for him.

Since it was still early, we took our time to stroll through the central pathway and admire the Sakura flowers that were in full bloom there. Ahhh so beautiful!!!

Found a spot slightly away from the central pathway, but still with Sakura flowers overhead to rest and eat our lunch.

Thank goodness I bought a mat along.. it can open up to twice that size actually but it was enough for 3 of us plus food. The ground was kinda hard and I should have followed some others to put cardboard boxes underneath first. Some even add bubble wrap for extra oomph :P

The huge blue mat behind us actually belongs to two office workers that came to chope a place for their ohanami party with colleagues after work that night! I think there were guarding that spot since early morning haha..

Is it weird that I still find it such a joy to watch Lil Pumpkin eat?? :)

A good thing we sat down early around 11+am... more and more people started coming in to find picnic spots and eat nearing lunch time.

3 ducks and 1 photo-bomber behind heh.. It is hard to not get photo-bombed anywhere with such a huge crowd!!

There are a few varieties of Sakura and other than the Somei Yoshino in my earlier photos, we also saw Kawazu-zakura variety which have large and pink blossoms. The boy likes these kind the most.

I'm so so happy that he finally got to see Sakura flowers "live"! He too agrees that they are so much prettier in reality than just admiring from photos... I caught him a few time just looking up to stare in quiet contemplation.

It's really nice that Lil Pumpkin is big enough to help us take photos {yes, we trust her with our camera} and she kinda has the eye for it too ;)

  • The park is stroller / pram friendly.
  • Keep children close by as there is really a huge crowd especially during Sakura season.
  • Take time to visit the temples, museums and Ueno Zoo in the park area.
  • Bring your own food and picnic mat before you go to the park. You can buy fresh food and snacks from the nearby Ameyoko street or even from convenience stores at JR Ueno station.
  • If you forget, don't worry as there's a few temporary food kioks inside the park and some roaming food vendors that come to your mat to sell food and fruits.
  • If possible, go really early in the morning as more and more people come by for Ohanami as the day goes by, even during weekdays.
  • There are rubbish collection points around the park, but remember to sort your rubbish as the Japanese do.
  • All parties must end by 8pm.  

Ueno Park {上野公園, Ueno Koen}
Uenokoen, Taito, Tokyo
Nearest station: JR Ueno station {Yamanote line}
Best time for Sakura viewing: Late March - Early April
Opening hrs: 5am to 11pm daily
Fee: Free

Read more about our Japan travels here
Also see the Sakura at Yoyogi Park, Tokyo

Friday, April 17, 2015

Japan 2015 | Sakura at Yoyogi Park, Tokyo ❀

The first place that Lil Pumpkin and I went to for an Ohami picnic was to Yoyogi Park {代々木公園, Yoyogi Ko-en} near the famous Meiji-jingu {(明治神宮} and Harajuku shopping street. If you're in Tokyo you'd probaby head to Harajuku for shopping, and I highly recommend that you don't miss Yogogi Park and Meiji-jingu either. They are all within walking distance from one another.

Before turning into one of Tokyo's largest city parks featuring wide lawns, ponds and forested areas, it was also the site of the Olympic Village for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Now as a park, many Japanese love to go there for jogging, picnicking and other outdoor activities.

Yoyogi Park has a whole area filled with Sakura trees {about 10 minutes walk from the main entrance} and it makes for a nice ohanami spot in Spring. It is always known for its ginko tree forest which turns beautifully gold during Autumn, so that's another great season to visit the park.

Although a big part of Ohanami is the festive mood from the crowds that come to admire the Sakura trees, it can get pretty bustling and too much of a jostle for space and serenity {I'll show you what I mean in my post on Ueno Park next week}.

I prefer to admire the Sakura flowers in peace and quiet, but that can be hard in the more popular places for Sakura viewing, like in Yoyogi Park. You usually have to go way out of the city for that kind of luxury.

So, I thought we should go early in the morning. We took the train to JR Harajuku station then walked across the bridge to the park. However, I took a right turn and walked in towards Meiji-jingu instead of a left to the park! Continued on when I realised my mistake as I thought there would be an entrance to Yoyogi Park from there but there wasn't. Oh well..

In the end we spent about an hour or so in Meiji-jingu. The last time we were in Meiji-jingu was in 2013 for Hatsumode but Lil Pumpkin was sleeping the whole time hahahaha. At least she was awake this time to enjoy the sights and sounds of this beautiful shrine, although there's no Sakura trees there. It's hard to believe that such a tranquil place exists right in the middle of busy Tokyo.

The gravel path makes it a little tougher to walk through with the stroller and what would usually take 10-15 minutes for others to reach the main complex would probably take around 20 minutes for us. It's good exercise and well worth the walk though.

Meiji-jingu is one of Japan's most popular shrines and you can almost always see traditional Japanese weddings taking place there... like what Aki went through for hers.

Many tourists stop to gawk and snap photos but I think it's still crucial to respect the couple on the most important day of their lives. Please don't stalk them, make too much noise or even intrude by asking to take photos/ selfies with them!

Finally reached Yoyogi Park just before the lunch crowd came, but there were already people and lots of mats around to secure places for Ohanami parties! See... it's not only Singaporeans who are kiasu to go early and chope places :P

It was a weekday when we went and the crowd definitely gets worse on the weekends!

The Sakura flowers were just starting to bloom those few days...These are the common Somei Yoshino variety with slightly pink, almost white, 5-petaled blossoms.

I didn't bring a mat that day but there were some park benches around and we had a simple meal of onigiri. Lil Pumpkin loves these a lot and sometimes, she can even finish 2 all by herself!! I usually get her salmon, beef or vegetable-filled kinds.

Pre-packed rice onigiri is cheap {around 85 yen to 130 yen each} and you can easily get it from any convenience store or supermarket.

After we ate we continued to stroll and admire the Sakura flowers. Finally after 3 years, Sakura meets Sakura again :)

Lil Pumpkin found a tree with really low branches and asked me to snap a shot of her..

She said she was wearing a flower skirt!!! Hahahaha.. gotta love her imagination!!

Spotted a tree with white flowers in full bloom nearby and went to take a look..

They aren't Sakura but were still lovely. Anyone has an idea what kind of flower this is?

Sakura season in Japan is like Christmas or Easter. Many companies come up with Sakura-related products so all around there are Sakura cakes, Sakura coffee, Sakura plates, Sakura-inspired clothing etc. The whole works!! Really heaven for a Sakura-lover like me :P

Anyway I don't drink but here's a special limited edition packaging for Asahi beer during the Sakura season. It's just normal beer and not Sakura-flavoured beer... although that would be interesting!!

Headed to Harajuku then Shibuya after that but this was such a beautiful way to start our day :)

  • The park is pram/stroller and pets-friendly.
  • Bring food and a mat before you go to the park for Sakura viewing. 
  • Bring a small plastic bag for your rubbish and remember to take it along with you when you leave.
  • Nearest convenience store or fast food restaurant {McDonald's, Lotteria etc.} is at Harajuku Takeshita street
  • There's a small food/drinks kiosk and toilets at the entrance near JR Harajuka station.

Yoyogi Park {代々木公園, Yoyogi Ko-en}
2-1 Yoyogi Kamizonocho, Shibuya, Tokyo
Nearest station: JR Harajuku station {Yamanote line} or Yoyogi-koen station {Chiyoda line}
Best time for Sakura viewing: Late March - Early April
Opening hrs: 5am to 8pm daily {or until 5pm mid-October to April}
Fee: Free

Read more about our Japan travels here
Also see Sakura at Ueno Park, Tokyo

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kids Travel Style | Stay Bright in Winter with Colours from Joules UK

Not many people like winter. They think it's cold, dull and dreary. I, however, absolutely love it! I love the cold wind upon my face, I love snuggling up to the boy to keep warm, I love that the days seem slower and more relaxed, I love waking up to the possible surprise of snow, and yes, I do love the layers and layers of winter fashion.

Winter does not need to be dull and dreary. It can be fun and exciting with bold colours and prints! The Japanese people do it very well as you can see :P

Kids have that upbeat, cheerful nature that shouldn't be dampened with winter monotones. Born in the British countryside and crafted with true style & eccentricity, Joules UK designs upbeat, colourful clothing for children who love the outdoors and live life to the fullest. Sounds a lot like my Lil Pumpkin! :)

Crafted with adventures in mind, the clothes not only stand out from the crowd, but are functional and comfortable too. Kirstie Coat in Pink is 100% waterproof with microfleece lining, slightly wadded for warmth and has flap pockets to keep her little gems. I suggest getting a size or two bigger when buying kids' coats because of the additional layers of clothing beneath.

 Her Bangles Dress in Multi Stripe is a soft jersey A-line dress that's easy to wash and wear and I adore the "bumblebee" Stripey Jersey Leggings in Yellow with the fully elasticated waist. Both are not too thick and are perfect for cooler months or even inside the cold shopping centres here in Singapore!

If mums are lusting after these bold & colourful prints {as I was :P}, not to worry because Joules UK also designs women's clothes.

I'm wearing the Alicia Dress in Navy that's really perfect for me to hit the streets of Japan with funky red tights, or my more conservative office with a jacket and black stockings.

The interesting print makes me think of Japanese fans :)

They also have a footwear and wellingtons range. Not many local stores stock stylish and hard-wearing wellies for kids I think. With our unpredictable rainy days, wellies are definitely a must-have in our wardrobes! Lil Pumpkin is wearing the Printed Wellies in Navy Horse here to trudge through puddles, big and small!

Joules UK conceptualises and prints their designs in-house, so all the patterns you see are unique to the trendy brand that is currently available in Singapore exclusively at Not Too Big, a multi-label kids boutique selling other brands like Sons + Daughters & Milk on the Roads. Recently, the boutique brought in Holster, Australia’s leading jellies footwear brand - innovative women’s and children’s footwear covering you for the beach and beyond. So darn cute and I'll be popping by soon to get some for the Chinese New Year!

Not Too Big
#02-06, Forum the Shopping Mall

P.S. Do check out my 5 Travel-wear Tips for Kids

What are your favourite colours to wear during winter?

* Disclosure: Joules UK clothes and footwear were provided by Not Too Big for review. All other accessories belong to me. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are my own.