Akari Arie Takata (JPN), dancer, Tokyo

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‘I would like to get a lot more tattoos, but being a dancer in Japan has its restrictions: some agencies don’t want tattooed dancers. It’s not too strict in general, a few small ones won’t bother anyone, but too much won’t be accepted. The amount of tattoos I have won’t be a problem for underground shows, but it might be too much for some festivals and big events. So as long as I want to keep dancing, this is as far as I can go. They are also easily covered up with clothing, so they don’t get me into trouble. I can’t go to swimming pools, nor the public baths in Japan because of the Japanese tattoo rules, though. When I go to the gym, I have to wear long sleeves and long pants. Also I don’t take showers or change clothes there. Japan and its rules, it can be so tiresome sometimes…’

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‘I started to get tattooed at a young age. I got this kiss mark on my chest when I was 16. In the same year I got the first tattoo on my stomach, but that one was rather painful. It was supposed to be finished in about an hour and a half, but I had to stop the session halfway. I just couldn’t stand the excruciating pain. But I gathered all my strength for the second session and immediately added a few others as well.’

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‘I used to travel between LA and Japan for about three years, but when my dad got sick, I decided to come back to Japan and stay here. My dad unfortunately passed away, but my mom told me to keep doing my own thing and not to worry about her too much. So I packed all my belongings in one suitcase and decided to move from my hometown Toyama to Tokyo.’

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‘In LA I’d discovered pole dancing and this is now my main occupation. Even now I still travel to LA at least twice a year, quite often for a month or so. You see a lot of tattoos in the pole dance industry. After all, it’s a job where you have to show off your body, so in my personal case, more than having a real personal meaning to me, my tattoos are primarily chosen for their aesthetic features. ‘Sexy’ might be the best word to describe them. Not all of them are completely visible, but rather peeping out of my thong while dancing. The idea that there is more hidden underneath, adds some mystery and makes it sexier at the same time, I believe.’

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‘I’m never nervous when I’m on stage. Maybe a little in those moments before going on, but the second I start, the nerves disappear. I love it when people enjoy my show. I do two types of performances: the choreographed ones that demand focus to remember and execute all moves, and the ones where you can just freestyle and do your own thing. When doing a choreographed performance, I never drink. But the the freestyle shows allow me to go all the way. I prefer the latter. And I can combine it with drinking: love it!’

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