When Horisumi visited Japan in Dec 2017, he went to visit Master Horikashi in central Japan in a small town called Gifu. Nestled amongst the mountains, and blanketed in a light cover of snow, Horikashi’s private studio is almost unnoticeable from the street. Tucked away on the second floor of a small building, the studio is quiet and peaceful. Horikashi’s own artwork lines the walls, overlapping each other to fit them all in.

Small bottles of green tea are positioned beside tatami covered cushions, ready for each visitor to sit down. Also present in the studio is Japanese tattoo legend Horihide, who arguably has contributed more to the tattoo world in terms of technique and information sharing between Japan and America than any other artist in our lifetime (he was a long time friend and penpal of Sailor Jerry, travelling back and forth many times from Japan and the US)

Between Horikashi and Horisumi, they agree on an image of Daikokuten, a Japanese deity and one of the Seven Lucky Gods, who holds a lucky mallet, and it is to go on the chest. Horikashi wastes no time, and pulls out a pen and starts to free-hand the design directly on to the skin. The outline is painstakingly applied by machine, with the shading done by tebori.

Most onlookers think that tebori looks painful, but Horisumi says that it is actually less painful and actually had a therapeutic charm to it once you get into the swing of it.

The piece takes less than 3 hours to do including drawing time, which is incredible considering the level of detail and the saturation of colour.

Horikashi is here in Sydney, for the Sydney Tattoo Expo, and also working at Authentink Studio. We are so honoured to have him here to watch and learn from him, and to share this incredible ancient art of tebori with us, such a rare and unique experience!