Mai (JPN), Mother, Miyazaki

‘I was in junior high school when Japanese fashion brand Hysteric Glamour used Bettie Page in its shirt designs. I remember immediately falling in love with her. And with that came the love for the traditional American style of tattooing and pin-ups.’

‘Discovering this new and exciting art form made me dig deeper and I came across the story of a tattooed lady who was traveling with a circus in the early ’30s. She was part of the so-called freak show. I thought she was quite intriguing and although I only had a couple of tattoos at the time, I now find myself covering every part of skin with new ink and filling up all the blanks in between. It’s getting to the point that seeing my original skin makes me nervous. I’d love to get a full-body suit, but I’m a bit hesitant as I’m living in the Japanese countryside, a very traditional and old-fashioned place. I wouldn’t want my daughter Beni to experience being thrown out of a restaurant because of her mom. So the timing just isn’t right yet.’

‘My daughter’s name, Beni, shares the same Japanese character with the color red. I have a deep admiration for it. I usually say it’s because of my low red blood cell count. Like it’s my way of balancing things out. A while ago, I did a photoshoot in a bathtub filled with blood. I loved the pictures because of the color. Don’t worry, I’m not into anything dark or gory. On the contrary, I’m a rather positive person. I do think about death, but more in a way that I want to have lived before it comes. Live every day and enjoy it while it lasts, because anything can happen, right?’