Souryou is the son and sole apprentice of one of the most famous tattoo artists in the world: the legendary Horiyoshi III.

We talked with him about the relationship with his master, about his tattoos, his style, his techniques and about the quality tools he selects to use, such as those by CAM Tattoo Supply. Let’s get to know him better!

Thanks Souryou, for this interview! First of all, I’d like to introduce you to our readers. I imagine being the son and sole apprentice of Horiyoshi III must be a privilege but also a huge responsibility. So I simply have to ask you about your professional relationship with your master… What is the greatest lesson you have learned from him over the years?
For me, I see everything as great lessons. What I have learned is not just about tattoos but how to interact with other people, about history, and also the field of philosophy.

Let’s talk about your style and the subjects you tattoo: what are your favorite iconographic references?
My tattoo style is traditional Japanese tattoo.

Souryou, Japan
Souryou, Japan

As regards technique: do you prefer to tattoo by hand or using machines? Which tools do you use and how did you choose them?
I would eventually like to be capable of doing everything in Tebori style. But to actually do tattoos, I would like to take the good features from both techniques, tebori and machine, and use them properly in a tattoo, instead of focusing iexclusively on the tebori style.

What colour palette do you use? And what are the most important features of the inks you use?
I work with colours similar to Ukiyoe paintings and constantly conceptualize and use a different variety of colour combinations. I consider colour contrast as an essential point.

Souryou, Japan
Souryou, Japan

Why did you choose Cam Supply?
Knowing that it’s important to use quality tools to create the best tattoos I have chosen CAM Supply because Cam has been in the industry for over 25 years and is a well-known tattoo supplier globally. I felt that their tattoo supply can bring out my best work.

I had the privilege to meet the CEO Dennis in person in several conventions including London and Taiwan.

How important is it for you to have the right tools at your disposal to create a good tattoo?
I believe that it is very important! As I already mentioned, having quality tools is essential to creating good tattoos. To add to that, inks, needles and all the tools and equipment to create a sanitary surrounding and tattoo set up will give a comforting environment for the artist (and the clients as well) to concentrate fully on the tattoo.

What makes a tattoo a good one in your opinion?
Japanese tattoos are very difficult, and you cannot just combine any Japanese theme in one. I believe that by being knowledgeable about Japanese history, culture, and customs, you can avoid any incorrect combinations and come up with a good tattoo. I am still in training and still have lots to learn myself.

Is travel and meeting other tattooists important for you?
I believe that it is a very important thing. Everything I have today is because of meeting all these people such as my father Horiyoshi III, Jess Yen, Miki, Tin-tin, Dennis from CAM Supply, Eddie from H2Ocean, and many more. Personally, I consider them all my teachers.

Souryou, Japan
Souryou, Japan

What is the situation like in Japan as far as tattoo is concerned?
The tattoo situation in Japan right now is extremely complicated so I cannot answer to this question. I believe that time will find the answers.

Do you go to any conventions and what are your plans for the future?
First of all, of course I have the London Convention on my list, then I’d like to continuously attend many different conventions around the world. My future plan is not to disgrace the name of Horiyoshi the First, and Horiyoshi III, and carry on the family name.

At the same time I’d like to work hard to improve on my mentality and personality as a craftsman.

Would you like to add anything before we wind up?
I don’t have much more to say, but this is more like a message from my father Horiyoshi III. After the Horiyoshi III Ichimon (family) disbanded about 10 years ago, the one and only student that Horiyoshi III now has is his own son Souryou. There are no other individuals in training under Horiyoshi III. I’d like to say thank you for this opportunity, and I would like to keep working hard and travel around the world to attend conventions and meet more new people. Many thanks for all the continuous support, thank you very much.

Souryou, Japan
Souryou, Japan
You can follow Souryou on Instagram: @souryou