“in the future it will become more of the "norm" to see tattooed bodies in Japan"

We caught up Tattoo artist Yuji. We had the pleasure of hanging out with the man with the best body suit in town when we visited Tokyo back in 2019. We fell in love with the city and were completely shocked as to how the tattoo culture was so underground. We ask Yuji if this is still the case, how he got into the scene and what his future ambitions are.    

So tell us who is Yuji where did you grow up and what aspirations did you have as a child?

Hey, I'm Yuji  I grew up in Malaysia. Now reside in Tokyo. I grew up as one of those kids running around playing football or any sports I was interested in back then. The aspirations I had back then was to be a soldier haha. I was young I just wanted to be an everyone’s hero.

Was tattooing always something you wanted to do or something you grew a passion for later in life?

Tattooing wasn't something I wanted to do until I was around 20. I told myself that I would never get a tattoo, because I felt it really wasn't the thing to do in japan but I saw my friends sleeve and fell in love with it. I kinda went one step further and now have a body suit.  The next thing I thought to myself is how much I would love to try my hand at tattooing.

How would you describe your tattooing style? 

I would describe my tattoo style as "yabesians" world that's how my customers describe it here in Japan. (Idk why tho) I want my style to be different than the others and not in the “style” that everyone thinks is true to Japan. Traditional tattoos are always the biggest request here but I was never interested in any of them. So i wanted to give something that could describe me, it's still evolving.

Obviously tattoos had a massive stigma attached in Japan because of association with the illegal undeground world. Has this changed now that the laws have been relaxed?

In my opinion no, it's just more accessible to people. The government don't like us and they still do not approve with people going swimming  or seen in gym's or any place where people gather and skin is on show. Our generations however are getting more and more so and I can see that in the future it will become more of the "norm" to see tattooed bodies in Japan.

Do you find tattoos are becoming more mainstream now because of this or is it still something that's frowned upon?

Yes as stated previously I think it's slowly becoming more mainstream, I like that for sure however I kinda like that the scene is underground too.

Are there any artists that you take inspiration from?

100%, Nissaco and Gakkin for sure spring to mind but I have tons of artists I watch everyday and it pushes me to grow more.

What's the plan in the coming years for Yuji?

My plan for this year is to just develop my style, I would like to try my hand at more styles too. I want people to actually find it hard to describe what I do. Also opening my own shop this year would be a missive goal I want to achieve. 

Here at The Hobo Journal we love to travel hence the name, where is your favourite place on Earth? 

I would say Malaysia is my best place to visit, It's very chill there and cheap, I would urge everyone to have a vacation there.

More images below from Danny Woodstock Photographer   

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