Horiyoshi III

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Horiyoshi III
Horiyoshi 3.jpg
Horiyoshi III at Canvas, LA.
Born Yoshihito Nakano
(1946-03-09) 9 March 1946 (age 69)[1]
Residence Yokohama, Japan
Citizenship Japanese
Occupation Horishi tattoo artist
Known for Irezumi (Japanese full-body) tattoos
Style Irezumi
Spouse(s) Mayumi Nakano

Horiyoshi III is a horishi tattoo artist, specializing in Japanese traditional full-body tattoos, or "suits," called Irezumi or Horimono.


Horiyoshi III was born Yoshihito Nakano in 1946.

Nakano was inspired when he saw a Yakuza (Japanese gangster) with a full-body tattoo in a public bathhouse when he was a young boy, "about eleven or twelve."[2] This inspired him to visit legendary tattoo artist Yoshitsugu Muramatsu, also known as Shodai Horiyoshi of Yokohama.[3] Nakano got his own tattoo from Horiyoshi II[2]—Shodai Horiyoshi's son—and lead to Nakano becoming Horiyoshi I's apprentice at age 25.[4]

Horiyoshi III is the second tattooist be granted that honorific title, which passes from master to apprentice. The tattooist affixation Hori means to engrave or "to carve."[4] Muramatsu bestowed this title upon Nakano in 1971.[5]

Horiyoshi III was a member of the Yakuza at a young age, but quit before becoming an apprentice tattoo artist.[5]

His wife, Mayumi Nakano, is the general manager of his public "Tattoo Museum" located close to the Yokohama Station, which he founded in 2000.[citation needed]


At Horiyoshi's studio in Yokohama, Japan, tattoos are outlined freehand using an electric needle.[4] He did the outlining by hand until the late 1990s.[2] His friendship with Don Ed Hardy, started in the mid-1980s, lead to Horiyoshi's adoption of electric machines.[1]

Shading and color is added using the traditional tebori, or Japanese hand tattooing, technique. He restricts his motifs to the classical repertoire of the vast variety of traditional Japanese stories and designs: peonies, koi, dragons, tenyo (she-angels), etc.[7] Horiyoshi feels responsible for keeping the classic repertoire alive, "one prick at a time."[6]

Horiyoshi III's work can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and may require weekly hour-long visits over the course of several years to complete.[4]

His work is now limited to finishing existing clients' tattoos.[8]

Among Horiyoshi III's published works are the following books: Ed Hardy published "Tattoo designs of Japan", Nihonshuppansha published 36 Ghosts, 108 Heroes of the Suikoden, 100 Demons, 58 Musha, The Namakubi (a collection of drawings of severed heads), former American-Japanese apprentice Horitaka has published books on the masters work which are "Bushido", "Tattoos of the floating world", "Studying Horiyoshi 3", "Dragons by Horiyoshi3", "The Horiyoshi3 sketchbook", "Horiyoshi3 photobook", his now senior apprentice Alex Reinke Horikitsune has been appointed to publish Horiyoshi 3's books in 2009 with his partner Matti Sedholm Horimatsu under the name Kofuu-Senju Publications. So far they have published Ryushin, a collection of line-work of dragons and folk-tale heroes, "Kokoro" a book to point out some links between the Japanese zen spirit and Japanese traditional Irezumi, "Dentouwaza" a book on the Irezumi Tattoo work of Horiyoshi 3's long time friend Nakamura-sensei from Kyushu, "Osen 1" and "Osen 2" two books on old Irezumi designs from Horiyoshi 3's collection. www.kspublishers.com[9][dated info]

An exhibition of Horiyoshi's work named 'Kokoro: The Art of Horiyoshi III' was on display at Somerset House in London, 21 March – 1 July 2012 http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/kokoro-the-art-of-horiyoshi-iii


Horiyoshi III's successor will be his son Souryou (heir) Kazuyoshi Nakano,[5] named Souryou (heir) until he gets his Hori-name.[citation needed] Upon successfully completing the apprenticeship, Kazuyoshi will become Horiyoshi IV. Horiyoshi III has only one other active apprentice, German born Alex Kofuu Reinke, whom he named Horikitsune ("the carving fox") in 1999. www.horikitsune.com


  1. ^ a b Horitaka. "Horiyoshi III: Westerners and the Japanese tattoo". Tattoo Artist Magazine (The 7th Society) (4). Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c Roelink, Josh. "Horiyoshi III". Tattoos Down Under. Geoff Wilson. Archived from the original on 2002-06-20. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  3. ^ Horitaka. "Horiyoshi III: Westerners and the Japanese tattoo". Tattoo Artist Magazine (The 7th Society) (4). Retrieved 22 August 2010. Note: not to be confused with Horiyoshi I and II of Tokyo—the Kuronuma family. 
  4. ^ a b c d Kydd, Johnnie Shand. "Skin Deep: Horiyoshi III". NOWNESS. CREATETHE Group. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Jarasa, John (March 2010). "Featured Tattoo Artist - Horiyoshi III". Lowrider Arte (Source Interlink Media). ISSN 1527-4209. Retrieved 12 February 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Kawaguchi, Judit (12 June 2007). "Words To Live By: Horiyoshi III". The Japan Times Online. The Japan Times. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  7. ^ "Best of Asia - Horiyoshi III, Yokohama, Japan". TIMEasia. Time. 4 July 2005. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  8. ^ Mack, John (9 April 2010). "Guest Blog: How Horiyoshi III Designed My Bodysuit". Needles and Sins. DiMattia, Marisa Kakoulas. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  9. ^ Sedholm, Matti; Reinke, Alex (2 August 2010). "Horiyosi III and "Ryushin". A Book of dragon paintings published by Kofuu Senju Publications.". Crows and Herons. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Senju, Kofuu' (2010). Ryushin. Kofuu-Senju Publications. 
  • Senju, Kofuu' (2011). Kokoro. Kofuu-Senju Publications. 
  • Senju, Kofuu' (2012). Dentouwaza. Kofuu-Senju Publications. 
  • Senju, Kofuu' (2013). Osen. Kofuu-Senju Publications. 
  • Senju, Kofuu' (2014). Osen2. Kofuu-Senju Publications. 
  • Mandelbaum, Jill 'Horiyuki' (28 May 2008). Studying Horiyoshi III: A westerner's journey into Japanese tattoo. Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7643-2968-5. 

External links[edit]