1. Who is Ai Sakura?
A dreamer, creator and mother. I like to walk on the beach, listen to music, take photos of my kid, write, read in bed, watch movies, laugh, explore, and work-out in the gym {currently on a body transformation journey with the help of personal trainers}. You can find out more about me on my personal blog, Sakura Haruka.

I'd such a hard time coming up with a name for this blog!

Shibui {渋い} is Japanese refer to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty.. although tattoos are generally anything but subtle, Shibui also refers to beauty that lies in the eye of the beholder. I reckon tattoos are like that in that its meaning and beauty lies with the owner. You don't need to answer to anyone why you wanted to have that design, or why you like it.

Red is my fave colour, and it's also represents fire, passion, energy and strength. Together, RED SHIBUI represents everything that I think tattoos are, and should be.

3. When did you get your first tattoo?
When I was 22 years old. 

4. How many tattoos do you have? 
Currently I have 7 separate tattoos.


1. Is it painful?
Pain is pretty relative and everyone has a different tolerance to pain. However, there are certain areas that are known to be more painful to tattoo on than others due to a lack of cushion of muscle / fat within so the needles to consistently need to go over thin layers of skin and bone repeatedly e.g. hands, feet, ribs, elbows.

But think about this - have you ever felt the wretched pain of having your heart broken? Well, a tattoo doesn't hurt as much as that. I usually listen to music or read a book to distract myself from the pain.

If you're one to flinch even when having an injection, getting a tattoo is probably not for you.

2. Can I use numbing cream?
Technically, you can but I don't know any tattooed person who has. Using a numbing cream will considerably lengthen a usual tattoo session as you have to wait for the numbing cream to come into effect and the numbing sensation will last only about 30mins or so and you have to reapply.

I believe like working hard to get fit, you've to earn your tattoo. No pain no gain. 

3. Is it safe?
Yes, if you go to a professional tattoo artist who follows strict hygiene standards. You are injecting a substance into your skin so there's definitely some health risks involved. Make sure you take the time to research properly to find a reputable parlour and artist.

4. How much does a tattoo cost?
One golden rule - never go for a tattoo based on price. A good tattoo is never cheap {unless the artist is your friend, just starting out or perhaps supports your cause}. Tattoo cost depends on various factors like placement, complexity, size, details etc. and some artists charge per tattoo, some charge per hourly rates.

Look for quality, and be willing to pay for it. A small, simple tattoo starts from S$50.

5. How long does a tattoo session take? 
It should take at least 2 hours for an average tattoo. You should go for a first consultation to check out the place and artist, as well as discuss about design and cost. On your actual tattoo session, you'll need to make time to make final design changes, apply the stencil, sit for the tattoo, and bandage for recovery.

6. Can tattoos be removed?
Yes, tattoo removal is possible with laser treatments. The lasers break up the pigment colors of the tattoo with a high-intensity light beam but they are expensive, tedious and time-consuming {you have to go for multiple sessions}.

Some people also do cover-up tattoos of a design they no longer want. Think carefully before you get a tattoo you might regret.

7. Is there an age limit in Singapore? 
There's no legal requirement but most artists will not tattoo anyone below 18 years old.

8. Are they accepted in Singapore?
In this current age, I'd dare say most of the younger generation are acceptable of tattoos. However, there is still a general social stigma against them but that doesn't mean that you will be turned away from restaurants or prevented from swimming in public.

You just have to be more cautious of flaunting your ink and cover up in certain places e.g. churches and when working in most non-artistic, professional sectors.


1. How long is the after-care?
A tattoo will take about 2-3 weeks to fully heal. After that, you should still continue to care for your tattoos long-term to make them last longer by protecting your tattoo with sunscreen and moisterising often.

2. Can I tan with my tattoo?
Any form of tanning can, and most likely will, damage and fade a tattoo. It is generally best to stay out of the sun and tanning booths, especially during the healing process but if you can't help it, use a strong sunscreen. 

3. Is it scabbing normal?
Scabbing, flaking, peeling, dryness are all natural parts of the healing process and will start a few days after your tattoo session. As tempting as it is, don't pick at the scabs or peel them off. Dry them gently when wet, no scratching and wait patiently for them to drop off.

If excessive scabbing occurs fast, and your tattoo is weepy, red and hot to the touch, you might have an infection and should check back with your tattoo artist or see a doctor immediately.


1. Where can I get a tattoo in Singapore?
Please refer to this growing list of tattoo studios in Singapore. There's a higher concentration of them in Bugis, Chinatown and Far East Plaza {Orchard Road} so you can easily hop around to a few shops there.

2. What should I look out for?
First and foremost, make sure that the studio maintains strict hygiene standards. Generally speaking, make sure that
  • premise should be clean, well-ventilated and well-lit  
  • equipment is in good working order and clean
  • treatment areas e.g. benches, chairs should be cleaned between each client and/or a clean covering placed over the treatment surface
  •  reusable items e.g. trays. scissors must be thoroughly sterilised {not just disinfected}
  • disposable capsules of ink pigments are used for each client
  • needles and shavers are single-used for each client and opened from new packages
Also make sure that you feel comfortable and safe in the place. Take your time to talk to friends, talk to the tattoo artists working there etc. before you commit to the tattoo.

3. Can I bring friends with me to the studio?
I don't see why not but just don't bring your whole posse with you as it may cram the place and distract the tattoo artists from doing business or concentrating on their work.


1. Where can I find a tattoo artist in Singapore?
Most of them work in tattoo studios, although there may be some that have their own private home studios. Do note that tattoo artists in Singapore are not required to be licensed and there's no regulatory board governing them so choose wisely. Ask around for good recommendations and check RED SHIBUI for features on them.

2. What should I look out for?
Most importantly, the artists must practise good personal hygiene e.g. clean apron & single-used gloves must be used when tattooing, hands are washed before and after attending a client, work area is properly prepared and disinfected before and after a session.

After you're sure that your health and safety isn't compromised, see that you like the artist's previous finished work and the way he/she handles clients. Make sure you have a look at their portfolio to scrutinise their skills, talk to the actual artist {not just the receptionist} about their styles and experience, and watch them at work if possible.

Don't just choose an artist just because of his/her reputation. Make sure you check him/her out for yourself.

3. Can I bring in my own design?
Yes, tattoo artists will let you bring in your own ideas and inspirations. However, some artwork may not work well as a tattoo and they will use their experience to guide you with the selection of the artwork and style. Listen and respect their advice.

4. Can a tattoo artist customise a piece for me?
Most definitely but try to be as specific as you can about what you want, with reference pictures if possible. Don't waste the artist's time drawing something for you, only to change it all because it's not what your have in mind. Tattoo artists cannot read minds.

5. Is there anything a tattoo artist won't tattoo?
That would really depend on the individual artist. Some may reject work based on design e.g. hate-based, blatantly obscene artwork, while others may not tattoo based on placement areas e.g. neck, hands, face, genitals.