Best Tattoo Removal Clinics in Tokyo

Erase The Past

We've all been there: that moment of poor judgment that results in a tattoo, piercing, or other reminder of a wild night or spontaneous time in our lives that is now all but forgotten. For many people, these physical markings are easily removed or covered up, but for some of us getting that tattoo could not have been a worse idea, especially considering we now live in a country where stigmas surrounding body ink still firmly and openly exist.

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In Japan, especially during the summer when “covering up” can result in a mild heat stroke, it’s not unheard of for the inked to experience fearful glances from the elderly, wary mothers instinctively grabbing for their children, and polite yet cold rejection of admittance from onsen (hot spring) staff. Here, openly expressing oneself through tattoos is still widely seen as anti-social and brings connotations of connections to the yakuza, who have kept tattooing as their traditional symbol since the 18th century.

The art of tattooing is in a constantly shifting battle as the younger, more free-thinking subcultures are embracing permanent ink as an extension of Japanese identity and fighting yakuza-connected stigmas of the more conservative and usually older generation. High-profile celebrities, statement-makers, and tattoo enthusiasts create their own waves by proudly showing off their freshest designs, which at the least cause frightened stares or rejections from gyms and onsen, but just last year, the government has stepped in to suppress tattoo culture. Former Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto caused a widely-debated and publicised move to weed out tattooed government employees by asking them to get their ink removed or find another job.

Controversies surrounding tattoos will most likely never be completely resolved in Japan, but as people are continuing to defy the existing taboos and opting for tattoos as a means of expression, the demand to get them removed is also increasing. Whatever the reason, if you are looking for an English speaking tattoo removal clinic in Tokyo, here are four that will laser that regrettable mistake right off your back (or wherever else it happens to be).

Akai Clinic (Omotesando)

With another clinic in Yokohama, led by two main practitioners, the website’s extensive content shows how professional and transparent their practice is, with technically thorough yet clear and understandable information about their state-of-the-art machines and technology. Hidemi Akai, MD, PhD has a career spanning over 20 years with a strong foundation in America. He was educated at Harvard Medical School and practiced at Massachusetts General Hospital. The clinic’s main services are plastic surgery and anti-aging, skin-perfecting laser treatment, but they also do tattoo removal. Visit Akai’s laser tatttoo removal page here.

Plaza Clinic (Hiroo)

Dr. Robert Kure is the first Japanese resident of plastic surgery to be chosen as chief resident at University of California, Los Angeles, and now owns Plaza Clinic, the first and only clinic in Tokyo run by a U.S. board-certified plastic surgeon. His client repertoire includes some well-recognized names, so customers can expect star treatment. Check out the website here for details on the technology of the clinic’s treatment lasers, standard pricing, and before and after photos of laser-treated tattoos.

Le Coquelicot (Ginza)

This clinic’s services lean more toward aesthetically motivated patrons who wish to defy the natural aging process, and although the webpage content is not written in native-level English, it’s easy to navigate, with free consultations offered in English. As Director of Le Coquelicot, Dr. Kuriko Kimura’s two professional mantras are to “create dramatic differences without incision” and “beautiful changes while nobody realizes.” Taking a quick look at the clinic’s tattoo removal page, I was a bit surprised to see that one of their methods is skin-cutting, in which the inked skin is removed, followed by the area being sewn back together. I can’t see how that would not leave a permanent mark, but if lasers aren’t your thing, then Le Coquelicot is a good option. For a more detailed description of Le Coquelicot’s various tattoo removal methods , click here.

Nihonbashi F’s Laser Clinic (Nihonbashi)

If you want a practitioner with experience, Dr. Shunji Fujii MD boasts of over 80,000 clients over a span of 10 years. His clinic also offers different methods of tattoo removal, such as microdermabrasion and skin-cutting/grafting, but it’s best to book an appointment with him for a free consultation in fluent English, since the clinic’s comprehensive tattoo removal page is mainly in Japanese. For more information about the clinic or to make an appointment for a free consultation, click here.

Text by Yulia Mizushima.