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Asakusa Horiyasu Profile

Asakusa Horiyasu

Asakusa, JAPAN



Horiyasu, otherwise known as Asakusa Horiyasu, was a samurai-sword smith. He started working with blades at the age of 20 and mastered the craft for 16 years in Iwate Prefecture. He got his first tattoo at the age of 21. Horiyasu turned to tattooing at the age of 36.

He learned by studying works of such Ukiyo-e artists as Utagawa KuniyoshiTsukioka Yoshitoshi and Katsushika Hokusai. In a 2013 Skin Deep Magazine interview he recalled that at first he didn't know anything and learned by watching an older horishi in Morioka. At first he was doing tattoos by hand (tebori), but learned how to work with the tattoo machine from Gifu Horihiro. In an interview with Tattoo Master magazine he acknowledged that “the edge of the sword teeth, the tattoo needle point… the parallels in the tactile sensation when one makes swords, and when one tattoos”.

Unlike some of the traditional masters who will only accept clients by introduction, he became known for working with foreigners. In 2004, he travelled to New York to take part in the New York Tattoo Convention, where he won two top prizes. In the following years he took part in various tattoo conventions around the world, including conventions in New York, MilanSan JoseChina and Taiwan.

In 2011, Horiyasu's works were featured in BloodWork: Bodies, a limited edition book series showing works of 53 of the best masters from all over the world, published by Analog Tattoo Arts Kolectiv.


Horiyasu executes only large-scale pieces. His style is described as bold and striking.

He is mainly focused on traditional tattooing themes such as Buddhist deitiesdragonstigerssamurai warriors, historical protective personalities, water and floral motifs (such as goldfish and peonies or carps), working mostly for male clients. Horiyasu often uses vivid colors that radiate from the skin. He is also known for using colors of the darker end of the spectrum, which create a heavy opacity.

Despite his use of traditional imagery, Horiyasu uses a tattoo machine rather than the tebori needles. In a 2013 interview with Japanese tattoo artist Genko for Tattoo Society magazine he recalled that for the first year he worked with tebori needles and it wasn't practical so he switched to an Ed Hardy Magnetic machine. Some time around 2011 he started using a coil machine. Horiyasu also explained that machines allow “an infinite number of settings, research and techniques.” He thinks that working with the machine is not only quicker but also inflicts less amount of pain.


Horiyasu has participated in various tattoo conventions and competitions such as the New York Tattoo Convention, where he received first place for “Best Overall” in 2007 as well as first place for “Best Chest or Back”. Also in 2007, he won three first place awards at the Milan Tattoo Convention and first place “Best Bodysuit” at the San Jose Tattoo Convention. In 2013, he won first prize for the "Best Back Piece or Full Body" nomination at the Mondial du Tatouage Paris Tattoo Convention and won first place for "Best Color" and "Best Overall" at the first Hong Kong China Tattoo Convention.

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