An interview with Yushi ‘Horikichi’ Takei

Yushi Horikichi

I’ve been blogging recently about my tattoo travels in The Netherlands, where I had the pleasure of meeting and talking to some exceptional tattooists in the vibrant city of Rotterdam, including Moira Ramone, Nico Mensinga and Spaceman.

I squeezed in as many excellent artists as I could in 36 hours – regrettably one of the people I missed was traditional Japanese tattooist Yushi ‘Horikichi’ Takei, who is based at a studio in Rotterdam’s centre called Inkstitution.


Photo: Inkluded

Horikichi has been tattooing since 1998, and specialises in Tebori, traditional Japanese tattooing which is executed by hand (rather than a modern-day tattoo machine powered by electricity).

This rare and beautiful tattoo approach is one of the most sacred in the craft, and is often passed down from master to apprentice. Those living in Rotterdam who aren’t aware of the rich history of tattooing have no idea how lucky they are to have this on their doorstep.

After my visit to Holland, I was delighted to chat to the artist briefly and am honoured to share his work and thoughts with you here.

Yushi Horikichi 7

Have you always tattooed in the traditional Tebori method?

When I was in the United States, I was doing Japanese tattooing with machines. Later, I was given permission to learn Tebori from a tattoo family in Tokyo. I went back to Japan to study it.

I enjoy Tebori because it’s all hand-made. You have to search out the resources and make everything from scratch. No one artist tattoos the same way.

There is nothing to help you between your hands and the needles. A tattoo machine does a lot for you. With Tebori, you have to rely completely on your hands and feeling to make a good tattoo.

#tebori @inkstitution

A post shared by 初代彫吉 竹井雄志 (@yushi_horikichi) on


What is your connection to Rotterdam and what is the tattoo scene like here?

I have a family here. My son and my girlfriend, who also is a tattoo artist. I’m a complete home buddy – we come home, draw and paint. That’s my scene.

What is Inkstitution like, as a place to work?

It’s a legendary shop originally opened by Errol. We have many artists with unique styles here. We have a tatami floor specially for Japanese tattooing.

Yushi Horikichi 6

What are some of your favourite things to tattoo?

I like doing big tattoos, especially back-pieces and body-suits. My favorite tattoos are always the next tattoo I’m going to do. I’m also always down to take on customers from overseas.

What do you love most about tattooing?

I love the freedom, traveling, meeting people, and not having to wake up in the morning and hate my life.

All photos from Instagram @yushi_horikichi.

Yushi Horikichi 5 Yushi Horikichi 3 Yushi Horikichi 2 Yushi Horikichi 4

Trip thanks to: Visit Holland
#VisitHolland | #ThisIsHolland | #Rotterdam

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