Tattoo in Japan

Horikazu I

Horikazu from Tokyo Asakusa is a prolific horishi, a Japanese traditional tattoo master who has been active for the past forty years. “I think I was attract by irezumi at a sento (Japanese public bath house) I used to go there with my father every night when I was little. When I was a teenager, I used my own tools to practice tattooing on myself and on my friends.”

Horikazu Sensei in his studio at Asakusa
Horikazu Sensei in his studio at Asakusa

“I was given an opportunity to work as Horitake Sensei’s assistant in Asahikawa City on Hokkaido island. He did not draw sketches, but he thoroughly conceived designs in his mind, such as a carp, dragons, people, flowers, or whatever motif his clients would request. By just a simple request, he could perfectly design anything in his mind. In such cases he would draw a rough sketch directly on the client’s skin and then complete the tattoo. He was a true tattoo master”, Horikazu mentioned in his last book.

Young Horikazu then moved to Tokyo he hoped to be introduced to Horiyoshi II, but it never happened. Instead he started to work as an assistant of Horitake Sensei from Asakusa. He taught him not just tebori tattoo technique, but also “ ways of life—of how a man should be….”

After some time working for Horitake sensei, Horikazu began to want to learn tattoo art overseas, especially in Hamburg. It was year 1970. “My reason for choosing Germany was because of the famous tattoo artist, Herbert Hoffmann.

Horikazu lived and work more then 40 years in Asakusa. He loved this place, very lively and busy quarter of the city, hub of traditional culture and popular entertainment with number of traditional festival through the year.

Through the period of several years Horikazu and his clients were intensively photographed by Czech photographer Martin Hladik. After Horikazu died in 2011, all images has been published in large 400+ pages book in Germany and it became “must to have” for many oversea tattoo masters. Order a signed copy of the book here.

Clients, knowledge as well as spirit of Horikazu tattoo studio has been inherited by his son Horikazuwaka, who naturally took over of his tattoo business. Beside the business itself he gained also father’s artistic name and became – Horikazu II.


En Mode Fashion wrote here

Kultur Magazine here

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