Swallow Nest Design Work



古都京都が擁する世界遺産のひとつ二条城のほど近く、路上に面した一階にSWALLOW NEST DESIGN WORKはスタジオを構える。刺青が忌避される日本においては、稀に見る好立地だと言えるだろう。一歩中に足を踏み入れると、3台はタトゥーベッドが置けようかという広さはもとより、壁一面を覆い尽くす手描きフラッシュの数々に圧倒される。そのどれひとつをとっても手抜かりのない丁寧な仕事ぶりには、作者の職人気質が滲み出ている。

Swallow Nest Design Work is located on the first floor in an unassuming building near on of the World Heritage Sites Nijo Castle in Kyoto. It is very unconventional and bold for a tattoo shop to be located on the first floor, facing the street. Japan has a negative image of tattoos, so shops are usually hidden and less visible. When entering the studio for the first time, you can not help but be inundated by the vastness of the room and by the numerous hand drawn flash art pieces that fill the walls. The artist’s craftsmanship is evident in his meticulous works.



The owner of the studio is Horihiro, an artist who is considered Japan’s leading artist of American traditional style tattooing. He has always loved drawing, and as a child would draw on everything including school textbooks. This passion did not abate as he moved into his teen and his pencil was replaced by a spray-can as he got more and more into graffiti art. Fittingly, it was at this time he learned about and started a deep admiration for Mr. Cartoon.

In his late teens he got a tattoo machine and started to apply his love for drawing to friends’ skin. He started working out a room in his parents home that was equipped with an autoclave and other important tool in order to ensure safety and proper hygiene equivalent to a modern day studio. At this time, he would do any design that was requested, but he was gradually attracted to traditional masters like Sailor Jerry and Bob Roberts.


その後、独学での技術の習得に限界を感じた彫飛呂氏は京都の老舗スタジオの門を叩き、海外から訪れるゲストアーティストたちからアメリカントラディショナルの真髄を学び取りながら、研鑽を積んでいった。2013年に独立を果たしたとき、看板に掲げたのは「Bold Line Bright Colors」。訳すならば「潔いラインと鮮やかな発色」といったところだろうか。


As he progressed in tattooing, he realized that he was at the end of his rope in terms of what he could learn himself. He sought out more formal training from industry leaders and signed on with an old established studio in Kyoto and learn the essence of traditional American style from a variety of guest artists visiting from abroad. When he felt confident enough in his own expertise in 2013, he opened his own shop and put up a sign that reads: “Bold Line Bright Colors”.

This common phrase in the traditional American tattoo community is the best way to describe his tattoos. His passion for this ideal goes even a step further as he has a fabrication area in a back room of his studio where he fabricates his own machines. He has to date, built a couple of dozens of machines in order to achieve this look.



Horihiro’s style is authentic and as old-school as you can get. He only uses a little amount of color and focuses on extremely simple designs. However his art and the clear mastery of his designs is comparably more than equal in beauty to other artists that use more color and detailed lining. This is due to the imposing power that his bold lines and the unclouded coloration exhibit.

Horihiro’s philosophy is to create works, as he put it, “That are worth seeing but created by only a few moves”. Watching him work is amazing because he works at unbelievable speed. His technique is so refined that he only needs to go over an area once in order to leave lasting color. This technique is synonymous with less damage to the skin, which leads to less pain, better healing and move vivid colors. He laughed playfully, “I want to quickly get it over with so I can go out for a drink.”



As I was immersed in his studio I realized that the technique needed to apply American traditional style tattooing is comparable to that of Japanese tattooing. In fact, there are many similarities between the two techniques; both focus the emphasis on line work and the flat use of color. Both styles were started in a time when there were no modern tools and ink, so It might be inevitable that creativity and ingenuity were similar.

Horihiro is also revered for his traditional Japanese work, so much so, that some traditional Japanese artists have told him to switch to traditional Japanese only. A famous phrase comes to mind, “A person who excels in one art is a master of many.”


However, Horihiro remains easy-going about his work. “Swallow Nest is a tattoo shop, I will do anything my clients want.” he declared, “I do not want to be limited to any one style be it.” It sounds as if he doesn’t have a creed, but his attitude that never neglects even a single move shows his intense obsession with “tattooing” itself. I couldn’t help but feel respect for his strong sense of pride in being a professional tattoo artist and his way of responding to his client’s various needs.

Swallow Nest Design Work

住所: 京都府京都市中京区壬生中川町9番地
営業時間: 12:00〜(水曜定休)
電話: 075-468-1169
Eメール: info@swallownest-design.com

Address: 9 Mibunakagawa, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto city, Kyoto
Business Hour: 12:00〜(Closed on Wednesday)
Phone: (+81)75-468-1169
※Open to visits and walk-ins without appointment if there is availability.

HP: www.swallownest-design.com
IG: www.instagram.com/swallowhiro

You may also like