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Posts tagged “Japan

Horihide still practices the dying art of hand tattoo

Hand tattoo artist Horihide is one of the few tebori practitioners who remain, as body ink carries a stigma in Japan and young apprentices are few.

By Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore, Special to the Los Angeles Times

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GIFU, Japan — Hidden away in the backroom of a modest apartment in this central Japanese city, one of Japan’s last remaining hand-tattoo masters is preparing his tools. Over the last four decades Oguri Kazuo has tattooed notable geisha and countless yakuza, members of Japan’s notorious mafia. Today, the 79-year-old artist, known professionally as Horihide (derived from “hori,” meaning “to carve”), is working on a client who is a little more subdued.

Motoyama Tetsuro has spent hundreds of dollars, traveled thousands of miles and waited more than three decades for a session with Horihide. The Japanese-born American software manager wanted the master’s ink in his skin — a living legacy for a dying art. With old masters passing away and young apprentices lacking the patience to learn the painstaking craft of tebori (hand tattooing), many followers believe its days are numbered.

“If you know the master, why would you want to work with someone else?” asks Motoyama, 62, who first received the outline of a dragon by Horihide on his right shoulder in the 1970s. Motoyama lost touch with the master — who works only by word-of-mouth introductions in backdoor locations — before the work was complete. Last November, after a 30-plus year search, he finally located Horihide and traveled back to Japan from his home in Cupertino, Calif., to finish the piece.

Japanese tattoos are steeped in thousands of years of history and bound by rigid tradition and social mores. This distinguishes them from American tattoos, which are largely personal expressions of individualism. Japanese masters spend years perfecting their craft and learning the stories behind the tattoos, derived from woodblock prints and Chinese folk tales. The body-suit tattoos, spanning shoulders to below the buttocks, can take hundreds of hours to apply and cost as much as $20,000.

Banned during the Meiji period, irezumi (literally “to insert ink”) remains underground today; many hot springs and bathhouses still bar tattooed individuals. Artists such as Horihide work under a cloak of secrecy plagued by associations with criminality. Still, social stigma has not put off the soft-spoken Motoyama who, with square glasses and salt-and-pepper hair, appears the epitome of respectability. Although the grandfather is happy to show off his tattoos in California, he, like most, is careful to hide his arms in Japan behind long sleeves despite searing summer temperatures.

Controversy is now flaring up again. Last month, the right-wing populist mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, ordered all government employees to voluntarily divulge any concealed or visible tattoos. The 100 or so discovered to be inked, who mostly work in waste disposal and transport, are likely to face an ultimatum: Get the offending tat removed or find another job.

Such pariah status has led to a decline in tattoo masters, with Horihide estimating that there are only five or six left who can do the traditional black-and-white tebori as opposed to the machine-operated colored tattoos. (Horihide offers both.)

“Specializing in tebori is not commonplace,” says Kip Fulbeck, an art professor at UC Santa Barbara, who is organizing a 2014 exhibition of Japanese tattoos at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles with tattoo artist Takahiro Kitamura (known as Horitaka). “For one, it takes a great deal of time to traditionally learn how to do it correctly. It’s also a much slower tattooing method, so it takes much more time. [Unlike machine tattooing] it’s very subtle, it’s very quiet.” Although Horihide has eight students, none can yet draw their own designs and just a few are learning tebori.

Horihide became an apprentice at age 19 and spent five years learning the craft. “It was very strict. In the morning you have to get up at 5 o’clock and clean the house. If you didn’t do it right, you could be beaten,” recalls the artist, as he sits cross-legged on the floor, carefully filling in the yellow hues of a tiger on Motoyama’s other shoulder. “But nowadays young people can’t do that. Some people who want to be students ask me, ‘How much can you give me as a salary?’” He laughs, shaking his head. “So things have changed.”

As a teenager, Horihide fled to Tokyo after a street gang fight. When money ran out and hunger started to gnaw, he saw a sign offering room and board to a tattoo apprentice. Despite lingering prejudices surrounding the once-forbidden art (the ban was lifted in 1948 by the occupying forces), Horihide carefully practiced on his own skin — scars of now faded squares and circles on his thigh today.

Past clients were largely the yakuza and an occasional hot spring geisha, who marked themselves with phoenixes, dragons and killer whales. Horihide’s memories of the yakuza — who provided generous gifts — remain fond. “Younger people do not know how to be courteous and do not know how to speak to me,” he complains.

Today, however, his clients are largely construction workers and firefighters, members of fraternal organizations who are traditionally tattooed. Asked what a popular design is, Horihide describes the Japanese carp. When caught by a fisherman, the carp does not thrash around like other fish, but remains still, quietly accepting its fate. “So Japanese guys take the spirit of the carp,” he explains, “rather than struggle against fate.”

Motoyama pulls a white T-shirt back over his head and then buttons up a black shirt — carefully hiding both the dragon and newly inked tiger, which still bubbles with small specks of blood. “Today, tattoo artists just use a stencil and copy designs,” he says sadly. “With Horihide’s designs, every one is unique. [But] in the long run I don’t know how long they can survive.”


P E R S E V E R A N C E

Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World

MARCH 8 – SEPTEMBER 14, 2014

Source: www.janm.org

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About the Exhibition

Perseverance: Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World explores the artistry of traditional Japanese tattoos along with its rich history and influence on modern tattoo practices in this groundbreaking photographic exhibition.

As Japanese tattoos have moved into the mainstream, the artistry and legacy of Japanese tattooing remain both enigmatic and misunderstood. Often copied by practitioners and aficionados in the West without regard to its rich history, symbolism, or tradition, the art form is commonly reduced to a visual or exotic caricature. Conversely, mainstream Japanese culture still dismisses the subject itself as underground, associating it more with some of its clientele than with the artists practicing it. Both of these mindsets ignore the vast artistry and rich history of the practice.

Although tattooing is largely seen as an underground activity in Japan, Japanese tattoo artists have pursued their passions, applied their skills, and have risen to become internationally acclaimed artists. Through the endurance and dedication of these tattoo artists, Japanese tattooing has also persevered and is now internationally renowned for its artistry, lineage, historical symbolism, and skill.

Curated by Takahiro Kitamura and photographed and designed by Kip FulbeckPerseverance is a groundbreaking exhibition and the first of its kind. Perseverance will explore Japanese tattooing as an art form by acknowledging its roots in ukiyo-e prints. This exhibition will also examine current practices and offshoots of Japanese tattooing in the U.S. and Japan.

Perseverance features the work of seven internationally acclaimed tattoo artists, HoritakaHoritomoChris Horishiki BrandMiyazoShigeJunii, and Yokohama Horiken, along with tattoo works by selected others. Through the display of a variety of photographs, including life-sized pictures of full body tattoos, these artists will cover a broad spectrum of the current world of Japanese tattooing.

Premier Sponsor

Mariko Gordon and Hugh Cosman

Patron Sponsors

Friends
LS Tattoo Museum
Pasadena Art Alliance
UCSB Academic Senate
UCSB Department of Art

Supporters
The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles
Los Angeles County Arts Commission
Richard Ross
Samy’s Camera
Spoonflower, Inc.
Target
Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation

Media Sponsor
The Rafu Shimpo


Traditional Japanese Tattooing with Chris O’Donnell


Alex “Kofuu” Reinke Horikitsune

Photos and interview by Ino Mei

Source: www.heartbeatink.gr

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Alex “Kofuu” Reinke Horikitsune, the only apprentice of Horiyoshi III apart from his son Souryou Kazuyoshi and part of Horiyoshi III family, spoke exclusively to HeartbeatInk Tattoo Magazine about the path in tattooing, the “Shu Ha Ri” learning system, the highly importance of the design and the “limits” of tradition.

How were you first introduced to tattoo?

When I was twelve years old I started Martial Arts. As a kid, from a really young age I was constantly drawing. So when the Martial Arts came into the picture, I started drawing Asian themes and especially Japanese; like dragons and all sorts of stuff. When I was fourteen, we were on a trip with my family to San Francisco and by chance I walked into “Tattoo City” which is Ed Hardy’s tattoo shop. Of course I had absolutely no idea about it. I bought Ed Hardy’s yellow “Tattoo Time” and Sandi Fellman’s “Japanese Tattoo” book and then I was drawing out of those books all the time. I was crazy for them. At that age, I had many older friends and when we returned to Germany after San Francisco, they asked me to design some tattoos for them because they liked my drawings and they couldn’t draw themselves. So I drew some designs for them and they went and got them tattooed.

I kept drawing and drawing tattoos until I finished high-school and went for my A – levels. At that time I started tattooing. It was 1995 and I was twenty-one. I bought a starter kit and I began teaching myself; I am self-taught. Pretty hideous, but what can you do? Then I went straight to the army, where I was also tattooing. Afterwards I met Horiyoshi III in Bologna at a convention in 1997. A few months later, in 1998, I went to Japan to start my body-suit. There I saw and realized that I could make a decent living from tattooing. Back then things were different and therefore I took a huge risk; in many people’s eyes it seemed “crazy” that I became a tattooist. It was socially “unacceptable” and perceived as “a step down” from my family; although they offered me the freedom to decide what I wanted to become. My dad is a surgeon and told me “you have to decide yourself about what you want to do for a living. When I am dead, you’ll still have your job and I don’t want to be responsible for you not being happy with your job”. He knew I was into tattooing, but he thought that tattoo was a phase. Like all kids go through phases. But this one stuck (laughs)!

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What happened when you went to Japan to get tattooed by Horiyoshi III?

I was totally into Japan, as I’ve previously mentioned, since I was a kid. I was also used to serving from being in the army; therefore I believe that the combination of those two resulted in me knowing my way around Japan quite well and I think that Horiyoshi III was taken by it, and we got along very well. At the end of 1998 Horiyoshi III came to Germany for the Berlin Tattoo Convention; he wrote me a letter asking to whether we could meet there and I took some time off in order to meet him. All of a sudden, I was the “organizer” for everything, because I could communicate with Horiyoshi III. It turned out really great. We had a great time together and we became friends.

How did your friendship “evolve” from this point onwards?

In the beginning of 1999 I went back to Japan to get tattooed again. I asked Horiyoshi III if he had a student, and he was like “no I don’t take any students”. Then, there was the Tokyo Tattoo Convention towards at the end of the same year and he said “you have to come again to Japan”. That is when I met the old-timers and many of the friends I have today like Lucky Bastard (Horiko), Mick from Zurich, Filip Leu, Luke Atkinson, Chris Garver, Marcus Paecheco; all super-great guys. It was a really important convention for all of us.

A couple of months after the convention, Horiyoshi III came to Germany again and I joined him on a trip to London to buy antiques. And Horiyoshi III asked me there, in London, in a black cab on the way to some antique shop, if I was still interested in being part of the Horiyoshi Family…

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To read the full article, visit: http://heartbeatink.gr/en/columns-features/artists-studios-columns-features/horikitsune/#!prettyPhoto[]/0/


The Canvases Walk in the Door: A Brooklyn Tattoo Parlor Popular with foreigners

By Carroll Gardens

Source: www.nytimes.com

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The owner of Smith Street Tattoo Parlor described its style as traditional American, with a bit of Japanese thrown in.

The brownstone-lined streets of Carroll Gardens may not seem like much of a tourist destination. But brand Brooklyn is ascendant these days, and foreigners come to idle at farm-to-table restaurants and browse in fanciful boutiques.And farther south, where affluence gives way to aluminum siding and Smith Street dead-ends under the din of the Gowanus Expressway, visitors come for a more permanent souvenir: authentic Brooklyn ink.

On a recent Thursday, Yossy Yoshino, 35, a tattoo artist from Japan, lay face down on a massage table at Smith Street Tattoo Parlour while Dan Santoro, 31, inscribed a pig in a bikini on his back (“three tops, one for each set of teats,” Mr. Santoro explained). The words “Weird World” floated above the pig’s head.

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Mr. Yoshino, a teardrop tattoo dripping from his eye, said he had traveled thousands of miles from his home in Okinawa to get a “New York tattoo.”

Just what makes a New York tattoo can be a bit difficult to pin down. The shop’s owner, Bert Krak, 35, described the parlor’s style as traditional American, with a bit of Japanese thrown in.

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Body Tattoos By Shige

By Martina

Source: www.koikoikoi.com

SHIGE (Shigenori Iwasaki) is a famous tattoo artist, born in 1970 in Hiroshima.

After being a mechanic for Harley-Davidson in Yokohama, he taught himself how to tattoo since 1995 and pursues original Japanese Style with a traditional inspiration.

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Gomineko Creatures Publication: Call For Submissions

Heikegani Tomomori Ukiyoe

 
Heikegani (Samurai Crabs)

These are the rad crabs  popular with Kuniyoshi that feature the face of a samurai on their shells. Really cool little guys. They are a product of the Gempei war, a conflict between the Taira and Minamoto Clans. During the battle of Dan- no-ura Yoshitsune and his chief retainer Benkei defeat the Taira clan. These crabs are believed to be the reincarnated spirits of the defeated Heike warriors, who,  following their leader Tomomori, jumped into the ocean to their deaths in shame from their defeat. Their fierce spirits however would not surrender and instead infused into the crabs living in the bay. Because these crab hold the spirit of their ancestors Japanese people do not eat them, so now they are quite common in that area.

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Irezume: Japanese Tattoo Art Exhibition

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Horiyoshi III & Shige: Gypsy Gentleman Episode 7

The seventh in a series of films chronicling the travels of the gypsy gentleman. A travel documentary profiling the world’s greatest tattooers and the world’s most fascinating places. www.gypsygentleman.com live now!!

 


*New* Photos Added To The Gallery

Tattoos by Horimasa

http://gominekocrew.blogspot.com

Japan

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Crystal Morey: Horibenny (Part II)

crystal-morey-16By Crystal Morey
Horibenny is one of my favorite monsters. Odder than bacon with legs, he oozes with creative zealotry and possesses an indiscriminate passion for life that is contagious. Benny is one of the first round-eyes to be given and to complete a formal tattoo apprenticeship here in Japan, and by this I mean, he cooked, fetched and lived for his sempai for over four years… A far cry from the ‘two week a year drop in to study and pay money’ apprenticeship awarded to many gaijin deshi these days.

Benny is an accomplished painter, his tattoo work is delicate yet powerful, it often embodies the Japanese tenet that less is more, and his earnest demeanor only lends to his accomplishments as an artists. Ever the student, Ben works his ass of on a daily basis to learn more and push himself further and I’ve had the pleasure of watching him make significant artistic advancements over the past few years. He is not unlike one of those wind-up toys you point and they take off pointedly in one direction… only Ben’s nose is pointed at the moon and with his passion it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he got there… (Click here to read Part I)

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Crystal Morey: Horibenny (Part I)

crystal-morey-16By Crystal Morey
Horibenny is one of my favorite monsters. Odder than bacon with legs, he oozes with creative zealotry and possesses an indiscriminate passion for life that is contagious. Benny is one of the first round-eyes to be given and to complete a formal tattoo apprenticeship here in Japan, and by this I mean, he cooked, fetched and lived for his sempai for over four years… A far cry from the ‘two week a year drop in to study and pay money’ apprenticeship awarded to many gaijin deshi these days.

Benny is an accomplished painter, his tattoo work is delicate yet powerful, it often embodies the Japanese tenet that less is more, and his earnest demeanor only lends to his accomplishments as an artists. Ever the student, Ben works his ass of on a daily basis to learn more and push himself further and I’ve had the pleasure of watching him make significant artistic advancements over the past few years. He is not unlike one of those wind-up toys you point and they take off pointedly in one direction… only Ben’s nose is pointed at the moon and with his passion it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he got there… (more…)


Photos of 19th-Century Tattooed Japanese Mail Runners

mail1By Alison Nastasi (Article originally appears at Flavorwire.com)
Who runs around wearing a loincloth, covered in tattoos, and delivers mail on a stick while managing not to look like an absolute fool? Japanese mail runners during the 19th century, that’s who — and they put modern bike messengers to shame. During the Edo period, tattoos became a popular form of art, and these guys are sporting some fantastic ink… (more…)


In Japan, Tattoos Are Not Just For Yakuza Anymore

japanese-subcultrual-center-logoBy Nathalie-Kyoko and Jake Adelstein (Original story appears on the Japanese Subculture Research Center’s (JSRC) website.)
Tattoos are as Japanese as sushi, samurai and yakuza but in recent years with the crackdown on organized crime (the yakuza), tattoos have become increasingly socially unacceptable while many younger Japanese and people living abroad have embraced tattoos as a fashion item. In December last year, the government of Saitama Prefecture submitted a bill to revise local ordinances to prohibit tattoos under the age of 18. A fine of up to 500,000 yen will be levied on the violators of the law. If a space is provided to tattoo on young people under 18, there is a fine of up to 300,000 yen for the tattoo parlor owners. If the law is passed it will go into effect February 1st, 2013. Japan has waged many fruitless wars in the past and the latest war is a war on tattoos. Kicking it off was the mayor of Osaka, Toru Hashimoto, the son of a yakuza boss, who as most yakuza are, was probably heavily tattooed… (more…)


Bryan Burk Article Preview for Tattoo Artist Magazine Issue #32


Cover By Byran Burk
Interview by Miguel Montgomery & Adam Warmerdam

Miguel Montgomery: On a little bit of a different note about your tattooing, I’ve seen some Japanese tattoos with American roses in the background. I haven’t seen too much of that. Did something spark that made you want to do that? Or did you just take it upon yourself, like ‘this snake needs a rose next to it’?

Bryan Burk: There were a few conversations I had when I was working with Bob about how we should try doing that stuff. And there were some kids that I had tattooed on, one was my friend Jeff, who’d gotten a bunch of tattoos and wanted to fill in all the space around them. So he was one of the first people that I filled in with roses and water around everything because it kind of fit in all these little spaces he had. On his it worked, and I think if you’re gonna do blue water with roses and some American stuff, it works. As long as you kinda keep it pumped up on the American side of town; color clouds and blue water with black behind all of that, like Eddy Deutsche, like Eddy meets late Sailor Jerry-type Japanese compositions, it’ll work. But I think if you’re doing black Japanese background with grey water, for whatever reason, roses look weird…  (more…)