Welcome to another installment of the Tattooed Poets Project!

This will be our sixth April celebrating National Poetry Month with a month full of tattooed poets’ work – both written and corporeal. Every day this month at 3:00 AM EDT, we will post a tattoo (or two) belonging to a poet, along with a sample of their work. Because interest has been unprecedented this
year, most days we will post TWO poets, with the second one appearing at 3:00 PM EDT. If you are a published poet interested in contributing, we will be featuring additional tattooed poets weekly, starting in May, or you can volunteer now for 2015. Please email tattoosday@gmail.com for details. And please, everyone, enjoy April on Tattoosday and thank you for visiting!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Tattoos I Know: Rob's Traditional Japanese Dragons

"The only things I'm going to regret are the things I don't do" --Rob

Rob doesn't show off his ink like a lot of people do. Granted, sharing one's tattoos with the public is part of the appeal for many people. But other folks get tattooed for more personal, private reasons. Many people feel that having a tattoo is in itself, fulfilling. They don't seek recognition to validate their body art. Others do.

That's one of the fun things about Tattoosday- when someone shares the personal in this public venue, it is often a fulfillment that has come to fruition. Other times, it's just fun.

I recently learned that the husband of one of my wife's old school mates, someone with whom I've talked football and who I see from time to time, is inked.

So the e-mails flew and the dinner date was set. My wife and I met up with the couple earlier in the month and went out for Vietnamese food. But before we left their place, Rob let me see his ink:










Unfortunately, my camera didn't like the light in the apartment, and I ended up with a lot of blurred or washed out photos. The above two were the best of the bunch. That's part of the reason it took me so long to post.

My camera really didn't do justice to the color and craftsmanship of the work. But, as luck would have it, the artist, Horisei, of Chelsea Tattoo Company, had clearer and much better pictures on the shop site.


When these were inked, Horisei was part of the staff at Rising Dragon Tattoos. Rising Dragon work has appeared previously here and here. However, Rising Dragon moved to new digs just recently and Horisei stayed in the old location at the new shop, renamed Chelsea Tattoo Company.

What Rob has are traditional Japanese panels that cover the upper arms, shoulders, and the connecting canvas of the chest corners.


Rob's work was done over approximately forty (40!) cumulative hours between March and June of 2007. The only thing that remains to be done is the coloring of the eyes.

If you look at the right piece, you'll see a kanji character representing the word "wolf".

That part was tattooed 15 years ago, in celebration of Rob's 30th birthday when he was living in San Francisco. And yes, it's an accurate representation of the proper kanji for "wolf".

Horisei, a master artist from Yokohama, Japan, was able to incorporate the "wolf" into the design, as it manifests itself in a new context, on a pearl clutched in the grip of a dragon.

These two dragons don't "mean" anything, in the traditional sense. A common misconception that people have is that tattoos must mean something. Rather, in Rob's case, they represent an inner appreciation for not just the art of the tattoo, but for traditional Japanese body art.

Tattoos don't have to be visible to have purpose. These two dragons reside on Rob's chest and feed his inner strength.

Rob even lent me his copy of A History of Japanese Body Suit Tattooing for further reference on the subject matter:


It is an honor to have them posted here for the world to see. Thanks to Rob for sharing, and thanks to Horisei and Chelsea Tattoo for the use of their better pictures that allow us here at Tattoosday to fully appreciate the craftsmanship that went into these pieces.

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