Seniors in Japan by Jeff Zhao

Most of contemporary society glorifies youth and associates it with beauty, freedom, and happiness. (As they say, "live fast, die young, and leave a good looking corpse.") Most young people think of life as over by the time they hit 60 or so, and accordingly, we have a great deal of anxiety about not being successful enough, not being "far along" enough, and hitting thirty. By then, you're halfway dead!

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munewari zero / 胸割りゼロ by Jeff Zhao

Tomorrow I begin my munewari tattoo with Horitoshi 1st. It is the beginning of a long, painful, and hopefully cathartic process. This labour is an important and necessary part of connecting with my Buddhist faith. I love exploring the city and all it has to offer, but this is the primary reason I am in Tokyo for three months. I was supposed to come here with someone who was precious to me, but that person has gone away from me, so I have found renewed purpose in something else.

I booked my ticket to Tokyo for August 10th. It's the date I finished my Texas 4000 for Cancer ride in 2012. Since the ride ended, I've been searching to reclaim that feeling without success. I've accepted that my Texas 4000 days are behind me but I believe there are still many undiscovered things in the world capable of making me feel.

Getting this tattoo and the Texas 4000 ride are in many ways the same:

  • It is a test of endurance - the ability to overcome pain and fatigue in the mind.
  • It simplifies my life - I wake up, eat, work, get tattooed, eat, work, sleep. That's basically it. Simple. Ascetic. Pure.
  • It can be hidden - I picked the munewari style for many reasons, but largely because it can be exposed or hidden. It's my choice whether I show it or not.

Below are some pictures that are similar to my design, which has a lot of meaningful symbolism. A few friends have encouraged me to take progress pictures and I think that's a good idea.

Arriving in Tokyo by Jeff Zhao

After a tense moment with Japanese immigration, I made it to Tokyo.

My form says I'm visiting Tokyo for tourism. The clerk asked me about work and seemed to think I was an indigent vagrant. I told him I was taking three months vacation (mostly true) and he raised an eyebrow. After some page flipping, he stamped me through, and I vaguely sensed his sadness as he waved on the next in a long line of foreign visitors.

If you're going to stay in Japan this long (three months), make sure you book your return flight and have your confirmation ready to show - they do ask. I am now legally required to leave this country no later than 11.8.