There’s a Gaijin Bleeding in Aisle Three!

So I went to get round two of the color put into my tattoo- today was the rest of the sakura, but also the momiji (Japanese maple leaves), which were to be tinted a lovely combination of autumnal red-orange-yellow. I do love my tattoo artist; she’s a huge sweetheart. But I digress.

We bandaged my arm up tight when I left, as per the usual. I was wearing a tunic, and my plastic-wrapped arm was visible in places, but nothing alarming. So I prepared to go on an errand after that to buy some お礼もの~ (thank you gifts) I need to hand out tonight.

The first annoyance was me realizing I’d forgotten to put more cash in my wallet. With my parents sending me the money I need to live on, I’ve been dolling the monthly lumpsum out to myself in halves. I don’t really trust myself enough to carry around an entire month’s worth of cash every day, and beyond that, it makes people think I am rich.

So, I’d not even brought enough money to pay for that tattoo appointment. I realized midway through the tattoo that I was going to be 3000 yen short and spent the better part of the next hour silently panicking, hating myself, and running through solutions. It was indeed awkward, but mostly because I was feeling so awkward I kind of flailed and overexplained to A-san and apologized some more and then fled.

T told me to come over to Daikanyama and he’d loan me 1man yen to pay for the thank you gifts, and maybe even a little can coffee to get me through the afternoon (and by can coffee I mean beer chugged in a grimy ally behind a Shibuya convenience store… just kidding…. ) I thought, cool, okay, while I’m in Daikanyama I can go to Lush and buy that salt scrub J requested.

They know me in there, because I’m an addict. But also they know me as the gaijin with the Japanese boyfriend with a shop up the street. So they grilled me a bit on him, and the neighborhood bar (Cheers) and then… then suddenly at once, the girls’ facial expressions changed. From friendly and open (re: nosy) to…  totally freaked out. They both kinda went non-verbal.

“Eh…eh…” one pointed “Dai…daijoubu?”

I followed her gaze to my newly tattooed arm, where in the muggy heat the red-inked leaves were bleeding into the plastic wrap, creating big red blobs on my arm that looked like stab wounds (I think, I mean…at least wound wounds). I started waving my hands in dismissal

“Oh no, no, I got tattooed an hour ago. It’s not blood, it’s ink.”

The other girl jumped in, pointing “Ano….”

Mortified, I looked again, this time at the back of my arm where her gaze had settled. Through a gap in the bottom of the bandage, red ink was running down my arm. Not a stab wound, but a gunshot or an… arrow… or…

“Oh!” I exclaimed, fumbling in my bag for some shower-wipes.

They had a paper towel ready first, and I dabbed at my arm while blabbering “Not blood! Ink!”

Checking out was unpleasant, as they were all still staring at me like I was going to eat them. I was so flustered, I didn’t put J’s stuff on our card, but used the cash T had given me for the presents instead. Fuck.

Fully nonplussed and pissed in the train station, I felt another trickle start down my arm. As I dabbed at it, a business man passed me, looked at my arm, then at me, and shook his head.

A reasonable girl would have gone home and put on long sleeves, re-wrapped the bandage, etc. But I hate wasting time, and I’d already wasted too much of it, so I was absolutely going to go back to Shibuya and buy those damned gifts.

By then I was naturally paranoid about the arm, and found myself walking around Loft holding my Lush bag in one hand and a shower wipe in the other, tugging at my sleeves to try to make them longer. But it was Shibuya, right? Half the people in that shop were foreigners who understand tattoos. Right?

I soon became engrossed in which pretty linen handkerchief to buy for each of the people who’d been helping me with research, putting aside my wipe so I could look each one over carefully. It wasn’t long before I heard someone gasp. I whipped around to find a little old woman staring at my arm in horror. Yep, I was dripping again.


It happened again on the train-ride home. Middle aged woman was trying to stare at me, but I kept interrupting her by looking back. Mind yer own business, bitch. I’m trying to bleed over here.

Common sense told me not to go to the neighborhood grocery store, but I really needed groceries, was no less stubborn about time-wasting than I’d been earlier in the day, and was feeling a bit defiant by this time. If I wanted to walk around Tokyo looking like I had a massive multi-sited dripping wound I would, by God.

Except I thought perhaps  I might do a little origami and tuck some paper into my sleeve so nobody could see the mess. Yeah. A folded piece of paper would do the trick.

And indeed I found my tomatoes and broccoli and flavored soy milk in peace. But in the bread section things broke down. As I reached for the bread, my paper came loose and fell onto the inferior (white) bread on the lower of the tiered shelves. A nice obaasan reached for it. The paper was already in her hand when she realized it…. seemed… to have blood all over it. Her eyes widened, she hesitated. She looked at me. I gave her my best “hehheh oops, I’m bleeding” facial expression, one I think my dogs would recognize as the international signal for “I submit to you, obaasan, please don’t bite my nose.”

She handed the paper to me, glancing at my “wound” and backing away. Human nature dictated she had to do one or two cursory glances over her shoulder.

Fuck it, I’d run out of ways to terrorize Tokyo. I could go home now.

Two days later my momiji look lovely. T, who was warned about the ink and heard this whole story when he got home, commented “It really does look like your arm is all bloody doesn’t it?”



Retraction by the editor: I need to learn not to complain here about anyone other than myself. After I wrote the annoyed money post the other day, T paid for our groceries (“because of the pizza the other night”), and lunch (“because of my cigarettes the other day”), and beer etc. “because of the Indian food the other night”.

So maybe he does read English. He was probably just at the end of a paycheck and didn’t want to say “I’m broke.”

So mea culpa, I understand now and it’s okay and I take it all back.


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