Sacred Art Saratoga has a lively atmosphere and amazing staff that ensure all guests have a positive experience. (Photo by Cameron Enomoto)

By Cameron Enomoto | Staff Writer

For years, tattoos have been associated with the act of rebellion and can be seen in a negative way. However, having a visible tattoo does not make a person any less beautiful or professional. While it is not illegal to have tattoos, it is not uncommon to find that some people express unfavorable opinions about visible body art. 

As someone who grew up in a strict Japanese household, tattoos were always viewed as taboo. No one in my immediate family has gotten a tattoo and my paternal grandmother, who is Catholic, has no issue with voicing her distaste for them. When I first expressed my interest in getting a tattoo, I was met with opposing views from my parents because they thought it would ruin my future career and make job hunting significantly harder. Convincing them to reconsider their perspective was more difficult than sitting through the tattoo itself, but it was necessary in order to maintain a positive relationship with them.

Despite having talked to my parents about getting a tattoo, I spontaneously chose to get one with my coworker. The tattoo shop I went to, Sacred Art Saratoga, was promoting $13 tattoos for Friday the 13th and I thought it was a great deal since tattoos are normally on the pricier side. A number of other people had the same idea too and the line was out the door when we arrived. The wait itself took a little over two hours, but the lively atmosphere made it bearable.

Daniel Kunimura prepares the necessary equipment and reviews the tattoo process. (Photo by Kaithlyn Villanueva)

Leading up to the tattoo, I was extremely nervous and I thought about changing my mind multiple times. When I walked into the store, it seemed as though I was the only person without a tattoo. I didn’t know how anything about placement or aftercare and the things I did hear about were all second-hand. Fortunately, the artist working on me, Daniel Kunimura, was very attentive and made sure I was comfortable before beginning anything. Kunimura is the owner of Sacred Art Saratoga, which opened in 2020, and was an apprentice under Mark Claunch.

After cleaning and shaving the area, the stencil was transferred to my skin, and the linework began. He took the time to explain in detail what he was going to do and talked story with me throughout the whole process. 

The design I chose to get was a small geometric heart on my inner wrist. It took about 5 minutes to complete the design, though it felt like time was passing at a much slower pace. As someone who has gotten multiple cartilage and body piercings, I thought that the pain would be on a similar scale, but I was surprised to find that I was entirely wrong. The needle felt like someone was dragging a razor across my skin and pushing it down with full force. Fortunately, there wasn’t much pain after the design was finished. I only felt a light stinging sensation during the days that followed, and I have had no issues in the following months since then.

After paying for the service, I was given a small container of ointment to apply to the tattooed area. Unlike piercing aftercare, the routine for cleaning and upkeeping a tattoo is rather simple. Aside from washing the area 2-3 times a day, I was instructed to avoid swimming until the tattoo healed and to refrain from scratching away any scabs. Kunimura informed me that the sun is the number one cause of tattoo deterioration and that using sun protection is crucial in preventing this from happening. Since my tattoo is located on my wrist, I always apply sunscreen when I go outside to protect it.

Following my first tattoo, my friends were ecstatic and happily celebrated this new part of me. Many of them also have tattoos that they plan to add to in the next few years. I plan to schedule another tattoo appointment at Sacred Art Saratoga to get a design honoring my maternal grandparents, though I am still undecided on the style I would like to have.

At the end of the day, tattoos don’t change a person overnight. Regardless of what other people think, body art is a form of expression and should not be limited to the expectations of society. Ultimately, this experience has been eye-opening and I am amazed at how many possibilities are available to clients. In the years to come, I can see myself getting more tattoos and I am hopeful that the stereotypical perspective of body art will change.

For more information on Sacred Art Saratoga please visit the website here. The Instagram page can be found here.