To coincide with the release of Yakuza 3 (in shops today!), I wanted to give you a peek into the world of Horitomo (real name Kazuaki Kitamura), real-life tattoo artist, whose designs have been used in all the Yakuza games.
Horitomo-san began tattooing in 1992, although at the time he was not versed in the art of traditional Japanese tattooing. Instead, he focused his studies on the western style of tattoo artistry at a street tattoo studio. At that time studios which advertised their services openly on the streets of Japan were a real rarity.
Following his initial studies, Horitomo-san went on to work at various tattoo studios based in Tokyo and Osaka. In the meantime, he was also actively taking part in various tattoo conventions, including shows in Amsterdam and Spain. In 2001, he finally began to learn traditional Japanese tattooing from a master of the style.
Four years later, Kikuchi-san (producer of the Yakuza series), saw some of Horitomo-san’s work in a magazine which featured several of the best traditional Japanese tattoo artists of the time. He was impressed by what he saw and decided to get in touch with Horitomo-san at his workplace in Yokohama and ask him to be a part of the team for the first Yakuza game. He has continued his relationship with the team ever since that time.
I’m also happy to be able to share with you some high-resolution imagery of Horitomo-san’s designs that were used in Yakuza 3. If you’ve got tattoos or want one and you’re feeling really adventurous, you could print them out and take them to your local tattoo parlour and have them re-created on your very own body.
If you happen to be on holiday in the USA and want to get ‘inked’ by the man himself, Horitomo-san is currently working at “State of Grace” in Japan Town in San Jose, California. You can view some of his incredible designs here.
Now, that’s not all; I’ve been given an opportunity to interview Horitomo-san and would like to give you guys a bite of the cherry. If you’ve a question for Horitomo-san, whether about his in-game work or real-life, post them here and I’ll collate the best ones and send them over to him.