Books on Japanese Tattoo/Irezumi and Horikazu
Horiyoshi 3 was the first Japanese Tatoo master I read about, in the book Tattooing from Japan to the West by Takahiro Kitamura. Of all the professionals in the book, his impressed me the most. As an established tattoo artist of Japan, his work just seemed to be on an entirely different level than the others.
But the master that really impressed me was Horikazu in the book History of Japanese Bodysuit Tattooing by Mark Poysden (sadly, out of print and usually considerably overpriced wherever you find it). I read that book when I first came to New York in 2008, and was saddened upon hearing that Horikazu passed away in 2011. His tattoo style was unlike anything I had seen before and still is. I remember checking that Poysden book out from the library so many times that I must have kept it for nearly a year. The book was also included history non tattooing itself, so I also had an obsession with hikeshi, or Japanese firefighters of the Edo Period of Japan, who were known for wearing elaborate tattoos. From what I’ve read in other books, firefighters in Japan still continue that tradition and constitute part of horishi’s clients that are not yakuza.
But back to Horikazu. On my Christmas wish list is to get a brand new book about him: Traditional Tattoo in Japan- Horikazu. It’s massive with nearly 500 pages and with over 460 photographs! I couldn’t believe a book like this came out- I had practically given up on getting the out of print Poysden book even though it was the only book that existed of his work. And this new book is a monster compared to relatively decent amount of photos in the Poysden book!
Like Bunshin, Horikazu has text in other languages like German and French. When I first started to research irezumi back in 2008, I felt like irezumi wasn’t quite as popular, with few books available in English from horishis other than Horiyoshi 3. But with the immense interest shown in even just half a decade, more and more books are coming out. The many language options in such books show that there is a desire for a wider audience across the world to learn more about traditional Japanese tattoo. I will admit to a personal bias for older tattoos and work by the old-school tebori masters, so I’ve always wanted more traditional artists profiled. I like how people have mixed up Japanese and western tattoo in their designs, but the authentic tattoos still take the cake fore me. This is probably why I haven’t picked up Tattoo in Japan: Traditional and Modern Styles by Manami Okazaki, which supposedly has more contemporary, Western-inspired or 100% machine work rather than work by traditional tebori masters. (I said 100% above because there are some tebori, or hand-poke, artists who may use machine for only outlining, etc.). In Tattoo in Japan, there is a small section devoted to Horitoku, an excellent old-school master whose works I’ve seen in 1000 Japanese Tattoos. I hope more older masters get their own books. I think the large Horitoshi family is full of superb artists that deserve a 500 page book of their own! And Tattoo in Japan looks awesome nonetheless, and I would like to get it before it goes out of print like Shige’s has (sadly).
There is also another recently published book in contention- Wabori, which seems to be Manami Okazaki’s traditional counterpart to Tattoo in Japan. It costs less than Horikazu’s, and also documents older tebori masters like I spoke of above.
(The second photo is from Senseslost.com’s mini review on Wabori).
This original from 2012 is for sale at neumanntattoo.bigcartel.com. thanks!
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