After a long month, spent first in Vancouver and then travelling to Toronto, the first legal tattoo tour in Canada has come to an end.  And being the first tour of its kind in Canada wasn’t the only precedent being set.  This past weekend was the first ever live tattooing in a national museum.  The tattoo demonstration at the Royal Ontario Museum this past weekend was an incredible event.

A brush and ink poster of af shishi with a scroll in its mouth. The word Irezumi is above and the word Invasion is below. It is an incredibly detailed painting done in ten minutes by Horiren.

Horiren drew this with ink and brush in about ten mintues!

Hundreds of visitors to the museum got to see live tattooing at the entrance to the Tattoos: Ritual. Identity. Obsession. Art. exhibition.  Horimitsu, Horinao, and Horiren were tattooing all day long on both Saturday and Sunday, demonstrating some of the finest contemporary tattoo skill and art coming out of Japan.  Examples of both machine and tebori (hand carving) techniques were on display.

During their tattoo work we were present to answer questions and provide information regarding Japanese tattoos and tebori techniques.  There were so many people present we’re still getting our voices back!  Overall it was an incredible experience and we’re ecstatic with the response from museum visitors.  For many people it was their first opportunity to witness live tattooing – let alone traditional tebori techniques – and it was very exciting to help explain the process and some of the history.  Hopefully this is just the first of what may be other live tattoo demonstrations at the ROM.  A little bird told me that there may be some tattoo artists from Borneo coming to the museum…

At this very moment Horimitsu, Horinao, and Horiren are in the air on their way back to Japan.  They were tired and ready to get back home but definitely a little sad to be leaving the many new friends they’ve met.  It seems like only a few days ago that they were first taking an unreasonably long time to clear through customs at the Vancouver airport.

Arriving in Vancouver.

Arriving in Vancouver.

However it turns out they won’t have to wait too long!  There’s more than a few people that are looking to continue some work that was started in Canada, over in Japan.  It looks as though their busy schedule is set to continue through the summer.

Finally we would like to thank everybody that helped in coordinating this tour:
The Beaumont Studios in Vancouver was wonderful in hosting the Irezumi Invasion Art Show.  Great people and a great space!
-The incredible guys in Vancouver at Gastown Tattoo and Two Tides Tattoo.
-The Royal Ontario Museum was incredibly accommodating, super friendly, and just overall awesome to work with.  We hope there’s another opportunity to do so again in the future.
-Toronto Public Health for in helping us meet the necessary requirements for the live tattoo demonstration.
-The unbelievable artists at TCB Tattoo Parlour and The Okey Doke Tattoo Shop in Toronto.

First night in Toronto.

First night in Toronto.

It wouldn’t have been possible – or at least not nearly as fun – without you.  It bears repeating ‘thanks’ one more time to the artists and owners at the shops hosting Horimitsu, Horinao, and Horiren (Gastown Tattoo, Two Tides Tattoo, TCB Tattoo Parlour, and The Okey Doke Tattoo Shop) during their time in Canada.  Not only are they incredibly talented artists, but also some of the friendliest and most generous people we’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with.  Thank you again!

What does next year hold in store?  We’ve already started planning.