The Rising Son - Horimyo

Published: 25 June, 2012 - Featured in Skin Deep 213, June, 2012

In a world that gets smaller with every passing hour, little things can make your day, such as this exclusive photoset and tasty personal narrative from our man in New Yawk, David Marden.

One of the things I revel in when it comes to my job is the variety of people I get to meet and interact with. Some leave positive marks that make me think, and others just leave me shaking my head. This industry if full of all kinds of people so we have to take what we can and move forward. I’ve been blessed with not only what I’ve been able to photograph and interview, but also the people that have left indelible marks on my heart, soul and mind. If it weren’t for those people I’m not sure this would all be worth it. Fuck, it’s not like I’m doing it for the money.

Off the top of my head there’s one single person that I can think of that’s impacted me to the point of considering him more than just an industry friend, but also a close confidant. He’s one of those people that not only gets your head spinning with ideas, but his artistic ability makes everyone’s jaw drop. The person I’m speaking of is Horimyo Bunshinshi, or just Horimyo.

Horimyo is one of the true Japanese tebori practitioners and he takes his craft seriously. Based out of Saitama, Japan, and learning his craft in the traditional Japanese method, Horimyo holds fast to the ancient art and ways that have made this style of tattooing not only a beautiful, but an exotic style to us [cough] uncultured westerners. Holding fast to the ‘old ways’, Horimyo does everything by hand, no machines are ever used, keeping the outline and color consistent in this traditional style.

A little back story might be in order… I was getting ready to shoot the Boston Tattoo Convention, cleaning gear, checking on interviews – all that mundane drudgery we people have to deal with – when my phone rang. It was Rueben (Horikei) Kayden telling me that I had to drop everything to come meet his mentor who was in town for the convention. At first I was thinking I’d just meet him at the BTC because I had too much to get done. But Rueben being Rueben told me to get off my ass and come over.

Yeah, it was worth dropping everything. Horimyo and I hit it off like a couple of old friends that just haven’t seen each other in a few years. So OK Rueben, you were right. Bastard.

Horimyo is someone who walks that tightrope between a traditional, well regimented and formal style of tattooing, and the western-style art that we all know and see on a regular basis. Being able to meld both these mindsets into one is what makes him stand tall amongst his peers.

Having served the traditional Tebori apprenticeship, Horimyo never forgets to pay homage to the ones that came before him. He’s the first to say that he wouldn’t be where he is if it weren’t for his master and his masters’ master. Always having his feet well planted in traditional Japanese tattooing and a passion for all things western have made this man not only a credit to the ones that came before him, but an honour to the ones that call him friend. So here we are, four years into our friendship and my respect for Horimyo continues to grow.

The last time Horimyo was in the States, he was here in the Boston area doing some tattoo work; he asked me to come over to hang out while he tattooed and maybe shoot a few pictures for him. Anyone that knows me knows that it’s never just a ‘couple pictures’. That afternoon I wound up fully documenting this amazing Koi he was doing on this guy’s leg. Not only was I able to get up close and personal with the photography, it was also a great time to get caught up with an old friend who I normally only get to communicate with via email or skype.

Working not only tattoo conventions throughout the world, Horimyo travels a lot lecturing and educating people on tebori and Japanese art, mythology and styles. Even if he wasn’t a friend, he’d still be someone I’d have to check out. His style and color palette have made him create some of the most stunning tattoos I’ve ever seen (and that’s a lot). I honestly have to say if traditional Japanese tattooing is up your street, then you should check Horimyo’s work out. He travels extensively through the European tattoo scene and comes to the States at least once a year or when time permits – and as you will understand, his time is at a premium and in high demand.

Horimyo will be traveling in Europe and the US throughout July, August and September, so keep an eye out for him at the international shows or doing a guest spot somewhere near you. Even if you aren’t getting any work from him, you should check his portfolio out or even just go make him feel welcome in a foreign land.

Horimyo’s work and tour schedule can be seen on his website: – it’s well worth spending a little time checking his work out, not only for seeing what he’s all about, but also to soak up some fantastic imagery of traditional hand-poked tebori work.


Text & Photography: David Marden