Japanese ink lovers smash the tattoo taboo

Japanese tattoo lovers defy taboos

Location: Warabi

(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) TRADITIONAL JAPANESE TATTOO ARTIST, SHODAI HORIREN, SAYING:

"A tattoo will absolutely be with you until you die. For example, a house may collapse, you may break up with a lover. Kids grow up and leave. But a tattoo is part of your body and will be with you all your life. That's the appeal."

Tattoos have been linked to Japanese criminals for centuries

and are banned in spas, hot springs, and some beaches

Location: Onjuku Beach

But a surge in rock music and inked visitors is reducing the stigma

and bringing tattoo devotees into the open

(SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) ORGANISER OF TATTOO PARTY, HIROYUKI NEMOTO, SAYING:

"The event is important because usually, we hide our tattoos from society, but just once a year we can proudly show off our tattoos and show each other what new tattoos we've got."