芳柳 “史進”




From the Edo period to the present, artisans have handed down the culture of the townspeople that is still deeply rooted in the traditional districts in Tokyo. This includes the manner of horimono that bloomed so gloriously in the past, and the traditional style has been preserved.

Houryu looks up to those knowledgeable artisans as his mentors, and has learned the attitude and rules of horimono from them. His clear and powerful style which he has cultivated in this way is very valuable in conveying the classics to the present.



Shishin on the back is a hero from “Suikoden”, a classic series of novels originating from China. He is known by the nickname “Kumonryu” (nine dragons) because he wore a bodysuit tattoo of nine dragons. He was a strong and beautiful man who had been initiated into the eighteen mysteries of martial arts by the master Oushin.

His boldness in tattooing all over his body at a young age was favored by Edo people, and he was depicted in many ukiyoe prints. The figure seen here, swinging a long staff with his upper body bare, is a typical example of them, and has been widely used as a subject for horimono.



You can see the figure of oni demon sitting on the belly. Oni is representative of evil demons that harm people, and some very powerful beings such as Shuten Doji and Ibaraki Doji are recorded in ancient texts.

On the other hand, there are many traditions throughout Japan that praise oni for their good deeds, so they cannot be regarded only as a symbol of evil or disaster. Oni is also used to ward off evil spirits, and oni-gawara tiles placed at the end of the roofs of Japanese-style buildings, especially temples, are a good example of this.

※See Houryu’s interview here
And see more of his work on Instagram

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