Horiyoshi III, Japanese tattoo artist & Hajime Sorayama art exhibit, Tokyo! New Kagaya izakaya in Hatanodai, shunga.

hajime sorayama tokyo art gallery museum exhibition

Looking for Goth and offbeat art / culture activities in Tokyo? This gang-gang has got you covered… My friends and I love hitting up Japanese art exhibitions with themes such as tattoos, AI, and shunga (Edo-era erotica, often involving tentacles!) Our video of this event went viral on @lacarmina IG… be sure to watch the reel here.

Last fall, the Goth crew went to this showcase by Japanese tattoo master Horiyoshi III and contemporary artist Hajime Sorayama (famous for his sexy robot ladies). We also had dinner at Mark’s new Kagaya izakaya location in Hatanodai (the old Shimbashi theme restaurant closed down) — read on for Kagaya’s address and details!

horiyoshi iii famous japanese tattoo master artist stick poke

It was an honor to meet the groundbreaking Japanese tattooist himself, Horiyoshi III. John stopped by on the previous day and got to chat with Hajime Sorayama, as well.

This “Lone Wolf Exhibition” took place at Art Gallery Dogenzaka in Shibuya for a short period in October 2023. While the show is no longer up, both visionaries tend to have showings at museums and galleries in Japan, so it’s worth looking up their latest announcements.

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Before we continue — just a quick announcement that I’m off on my next trip! I’m flying to London, Dublin, Malta, Iceland and NYC, in collab with Play Airlines. Get ready for a yassified feed with outfit/travel photos like this by Joey Wong. (Got any travel tips for the five cities I’m hitting up? Please let me know in the comments.)

ryoichi keroppy maeda, bagelhead body mods japan

Back to our Shibuya hangout. Ryoichi Keroppy Maeda of bagelhead and body modifications fame was an organizer of the Sorayama x Horiyoshi III exhibition. You may recall that he’s one of Japan’s foremost researchers / reporters on tattooing and extreme bod mods.

 Seductive Kinbaku Pin-Ups hajime sorayama illustrations paintings

I got to see Hajime Sorayama’s art in Vancouver as well — he’s best known for his sleek depictions of futuristic yet humanistic robots. The Shibuya show put the spotlight on his Seductive Kinbaku works, or paintings inspired by Edo-era shunga woodblocks (more about this further down).

japanese bondage art paintings sorayama kinbaku shibari

I’m sure you are wondering — why are there sticky notes with Sorayama’s face over the “parts?” In Japan, the law prohibits the public exhibition of obscene “pictures” — so to be safe, the graphic bits are covered up. (However, you can of course lift up the paper to see what’s underneath, muahaha).

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Japan is famous for its artistic depictions of women getting pleasured by undersea creatures with tentacles. Here’s Sorayama’s stunning interpretation of the classic woodblock that started it all, Hokusai’s The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife (see the original further down).

hajime sorayama horiyoshi iii controversial japanese contemporary artist exhibition

Our Tokyo Goth gatherings always involve fab fashion and antics… Don’t miss this naughty video of our visit to the Horiyoshi III and Hajime Sorayama art gallery (on @lacarmina Instagram).

And dig our array of Gothic footwear… we’re fond of Demonia boots and other Goth punk shoe styles.

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We were warmly welcomed by Horiyoshi III, Japan’s legendary horishi or master tattoo artist. He’s famous for his intricate full-body irezumi / horimono, aka tattoo “suits.” The artist adds shade and color to the intricate pieces with tebori, which is the traditional Japanese hand tattooing technique.

tattoos in japan young japanese horishi irezumi or Horimono tattoo suits

You likely know that tattoos have historically been taboo in Japan as they are associated with the yakuza, or Japanese gangsters. Yakuza are known for covering their entire bodies (except face, neck, hands, feet) in ink. To this day, most Japanese onsen (hot springs), pools, and gyms do not allow people with tattoos to enter, even if they are foreigners with a tiny Hello Kitty tat.

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However, tattooing was finally ruled legal by Japan’s Supreme Court in 2020 (previously, it required that tattooists have a medical license). If you’d like to learn more about Japanese tattoo culture and the stigma, read Dr John Skutlin’s article about his research on these subjects, published by the University of San Francisco Asia Pacific Perspectives.

PS: In the background, you might notice one of Sorayama’s less-shown works: a roboto Adolf Hitler!

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Today, it’s not unusual to see people in Japan with prominent, visible tattoos especially in the subculture.

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We’re happy we got to visit a gallery that honors two Japanese artists known for their fearless, boundary-pushing personal expression.

The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife hokusai squid famous shunga wood block

However, erotic and controversial art is nothing new in Japan… Above is the infamous depiction of a woman diver being pleasured by two octopi! “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” is the early 19th century work of Hokusai, who also made G-rated landscape woodblocks like “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa.”

japanese weirdest shunga ukiyo-e erotica funny

I was tickled to see over 50 works of shunga (racy ukiyo-e, or woodblock prints) at Ginza’s Gallery Art House last autumn. The curators put together a fascinating collection of shunga by Edo-era Japanese artists from the 17th to 19th centuries. This cheeky artistic style had a great impact on manga: note the chatty dialogue up top.

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Although the art can be quite graphic, shunga is fun and creative. We saw depictions of LGBTQ+ couples and threesomes, and a tally of erotic toys (above). The genre was suppressed after Westerners arrived in Japan and instilled their morals (boooo!), but shunga is now adored by people worldwide.

kagaya izakaya bar new location hatanodai address restaurant

Speaking of bizarre and seductive arts… I went with friends to the new location of Kagaya, our favorite performance / theme / bizarre izakaya. We were saddened to see that the original Shimbashi location of Kagaya closed around the pandemic — but never fear, Mark and his frog-friends are back in action! (Please see my Insta reel for footage of the shenanangans.)

The new Tokyo Kagaya bar / restaurant is located near Hatanodai station — here’s his website and map. Kagaya’s address is: 2 Chome-12-12 Hatanodai, Shinagawa City, Tokyo 142-0064, Japan

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We’ve been going to Kagaya regularly for well over a decade now, and never grow tired of Mark’s performances. His new Hatanodai location is in a spacious, traditional house that gives him plenty of room to entertain and surprise you.

kagaya tokyo japan weird funny themed restaurant hatanodai mark

Mark has a background in traditional Japanese dance and theater, which is why his skits and comedy — as eccentric as they are — are so magnificently executed. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for you, but get ready to encounter funky frogs, world music and weird dances… here’s a preview of the hilarity in my Kagaya Insta video!

Mark’s homestyle izakaya cuisine is also to die for… I’m dreaming of his stewed tofu, kabocha pumpkin, miso eggplant, Japanese curry… Tokyo’s Kagaya izakaya remains our favorite place to gather for dinner and all-you-can drink. Come to the new Hatanodai location (address further up) to experience it for yourself.

decabar z kabukicho dj sisen goth cyber parties

John and I also went to DJ Sisen’s Goth / darkwave event at Decabar Z. Although the Tokyo Gothic scene has changed a lot over the years, its main players are keeping it vibrant as ever.

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I guess Nintendo’s Boo has been looking out for Japan’s Goths. (Didn’t end up picking up the ghost from the crane game, though.)

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I leave you with some photos from Shinjuku — can’t beat the vibe here. Enjoy my Insta video of Shinjuku for a glimpse of the colorful magic.

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Love the contrast between Kabukicho’s flashy billboards and the Zen of Shinjuku Gyoen park.

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I’ve been doing many more reels these days — including this one about the tiny Japanese apartment I rented! My teeny tiny Tokyo rental flat was located in Takadanobaba and only 166 square feet… yet cleverly designed to include a fridge, washing machine, kitchen, desk, bathroom with tub, and bunk bed.

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For more Japan underground / alternative travel tips, follow me on Instagram @LaCarmina.

And if you’d like something from my personal wardrobe, please check out my Depop @LaCarmina — I’ve listed many new items for sale including Goth dresses and kawaii accessories.

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Playtime ahead… Thrilled to be in Europe again, this time with Play Airlines. Here’s a throwback to my skull undercut at Superkilen Park in Copenhagen, 2016.

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And a flashback to my buccal fat era, 2012 in Dubai. (Kids, don’t get rid of your buccal fat, as it eventually goes away…)

For updates, find me on Instagram @LaCarmina — and see you in London, Dublin, Malta, Iceland and New York City!



  1. Nikki_boagreis
    Posted April 16, 2024 at 2:35 am | Permalink

    That first picture looks like your friends might be Yakuza or something. It’s too bad you couldn’t get the Nintendo Boo plushie from the gatcha game. Love the throwback picture with the skull undercut, it’s awesome. Love the vibe,

  2. Nikki_boagreis
    Posted April 26, 2024 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Love the throwback skull undercut haircut, and the photos from Shinjuku. Too bad you couldn’t get the Nintendo Boo plushie from the gatcha machine.

    • lacarmina
      Posted May 9, 2024 at 12:23 am | Permalink

      Thank you! hehe at least I got to buy a Boo shirt, I love the ghost character!

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