Me and Horiyen crossed our path in Tōkyo in 2004, our common friend Shiryu of the Ryu Family introduced each other’s. He is a very kind person, working hard on his tattoos, and growing daily. Horiyen tattooing style is very classic, plenty of bold and simple elements, well composed with dark backgrounds.

When and how did you get started in tattooing?
The first time i tattooed someone was when I was in junior high school and I tattooed one of my friends. When i was 20 years old I started tattooing professionally as one of the Horikyo1’s branch.

How long did it take to get the first proper result?
I think I’ll need 20 more years… (laughs)

Do you consider painting a part of your learning process?
I think it’s good to learn composition and color balance so when I paint, I mostly use only black and just one or two colors like tattoos.

Before you’ve started tattooing were you involved in any subculture?
Mmm… not really “do some thing”, I was just hanging around on the streets.

Bunshin Horiyen, Goi Chiba, Japan
Bunshin Horiyen, Goi Chiba, Japan

If you have to pick three tattoo artists that inspire your work who would you mention and why?
Of course master Horikyo1 I always follow his way and trying to tattoo like him. Horishige1 (Horikyo1’s master) everything about my tattoo came from my ancestor.

Greg Irons, the first tattoo I got when i was 15 years old was from one of his flash.

From when you started, how has the business evolved in your country?
For myself and people around me it has not really changed.

Machines (rotary or coil),Tebori (hand tools) or both? What’s your choice and why?
When I started I learned both, I would use machine for everything, about 5 years ago I started Tebori for colors only, 2 years ago I started using the hand technique for shading as well.

Can you list a top five of your favorite visual Artists of all eras? What is attractive of their work in your opinion?
Of course Kuniyoshi, Kyosai,Yoshituya,Takeshi Ihachiro(wood carver) and also all obscure great artisans.

Bunshin Horiyen, Goi Chiba, Japan
Bunshin Horiyen, Goi Chiba, Japan

How do you feel about the “ban” of tattooing in Japan?
That’s a difficult question… One thing I’m sure, I’ll keep tattooing whatever happens because that is all I can do.

What’s the most challenging subject for you?
Japanese traditional tattoo designs with basic elements like dragon, koi, cherry blossoms can be very challenging. To me, me when the design is simple and clean it’s very powerful and stylish.

Check out Horiyen’s Instagram profile: @horiyen