When She Got The News From Her Family How Shoko Tendo’s Tattoos Transformed Her Life And Inspired Mine

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How Shoko Tendo’s Tattoos Transformed Her Life And Inspired Mine

Just magical. It’s not everyday that a book inspires you with such courage and strength to face the difficulties in your life.

The book I’m referring to is Yakuza Moon, which was written to reflect the life story of author Shoko Tendo. Born in 1968 into a family led by a yakuza or Japanese gangster father, she had a tough upbringing after falling into bad company at a young age. Descended from medieval gamblers and outlaws, the yakuza were portrayed as the samurai of a bygone era, bound by traditions of honor and duty while living a limitless life. Baba was a gang leader connected to the largest yakuza group, the Yamaguchi-gumi, living a “classic” yakuza life with Italian suits and imported fast cars.

To be fair, Dad never talked about his Yakuza business when he was home and brought Tendo to act innocent.

But surrounded by bad influences, Tendo dropped out of her early schooling, became a Yankee, or teenage hooligan, and lost her virginity to her first boyfriend while in junior high school. And as if life wasn’t hard enough, she became addicted to thin-sniffing and “speed,” or marijuana, and ended up in a correctional facility after getting caught up in a gang fight.

Eight months later, she was discharged to find that Baba was seriously ill with tuberculosis. Her family was completely ruined by the visits of the extortionists due to the ever-increasing debts. In a state of numbness and denial, she continued to take her regular medication, mingled with bad company, suffered several rape incidents and engaged in casual sex in “love hotels”.

In short, she became a complete rebel drifting from day to day without a foundation, and – get this – she was barely eighteen at the time. The kind of agony that would bring any reader to tears was growing.

Life took a different turn for Tendo at the age of twenty-one when an old acquaintance joined her in a tattoo shop. Although she had been exposed to erezumi, or full-body tattooing, throughout her life, this was the first time she felt so deeply about skin art. Altered and true to her character, she impulsively decides to tattoo herself from the base of her neck to the tips of her toes, with a design centered on a geisha with a dagger in her mouth. And she had a dragon tattoo on each arm.

Strangely, since getting the tattoo, her attitude completely changed and took on a whole new meaning. Tattoos had such emotional power and influence that they could transform someone who had been devastated by a rough upbringing overnight. Literally, empowerment came when she tattooed herself.

Then on her twenty-second birthday she was married to a yakuza member who had to leave his gang and cut off her left pinky to prepare for the wedding. However, this happy occasion had a bitter-sweet taste for her as the day before she was raped by her employer and mentally unstable ex-boyfriend.

After some time, she was forced to abort her first child because she and her husband could not raise one. The reality was very harsh for both of them.

But the cruelty of life did not end there. Two days after she received her first salary as a married woman, her mother suffered a massive stroke and died soon after. Frustrated by the setbacks in her life, she attempted suicide by using sleeping pills. Fortunately, the hospital staff saved her when they got the news that her dad was dying of stomach cancer. God help her!

Tendo finally came to her senses after losing both her parents. Determined to leave her past behind, she devoted her life to work, opening her first savings account in her thirties. In fact, she eventually saved enough to buy her parents a proper dignified burial plot.

Now in her late thirties, Tendo is completely free of her tumultuous past and lives a happy life with her young daughter, whom Tendo has resigned to not being around for long. Her life story has taught us to care for our loved ones and appreciate them fully. Compared to what she went through, most of the problems we faced were very minor. Remember: No conflict is too big to be resolved quickly. Unfortunately, her tattoos will remain – a clear and vivid reminder of her wild days. I wish her the best.

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