The Ink Of Yakuza 3

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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 (Yakuza 3 Tattoo)

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.

Yakuza 3 Tattoo

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.

Yakuza 3 Tattoo Yakuza 3 Tattoo

Yakuza 3 Tattoo Yakuza 3 Tattoo

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.

Horitomo Portfolio (Yakuza 3 Tattoo)

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.

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  • Very interesting stuff, thanks.

    And also ignore the barrage of negative comments about to come regarding cut content, most of us are just happy you brought it over to the West knowing it was a big risk.

  • Eeeeeep!

    I hate needles so much xD

    But needles aside, wow at some of the detail on those tats, loving the dragon ^^

  • How many of Horitomo-san’s designs were cut from the Western release of Yakuza 3?

  • Please let Atlus publish Yakuza 4 in the west (they know how to please there fans and translate games correctly ie not cutting 20% of the game!)

    Also can you please release a fan webkit pack with high resolution
    pictures like the one in this post.

    As for Kazuaki Kitamura, I saw a chick with a copy of Kazuma Kiryu’s drangon tattoo on her back, did you do it?

    Also do you use the big needles like in the game or you use you the moderm hand needle thing? (I dont know much about tattos)

  • cool tattoos. That face is crazy! I can’t wait to get this game.

  • This is awesome, i was thinkin about some Japanese style tattoos for my 2nd sleeve on my left arm.

  • I would like to know if all of the tattoos worn by the Yakuza represent a trait or tell some kind of a tale? I know russian mafia tattoos tell the story of the bearer, is this the same for the Yakuza? Also do they decide which tattoo they get?

    Sorry! Got a bit carried away. Having play some of Yakuza 3, I’m really interested to know more! I think the designs are absolutely awesome. This guy has a great talent.

  • They are fantastic designs.

    On the game, without any spoilers, has anyone managed to take Rikiya to the tattoo artist? I’ve looked all over Pink Street but couldn’t manage to trigger the event. One of the bystanders mentioned having ‘an invitation’?

  • Brilliant designs. Wouldn’t mind joining the Yakuza for those tattoos

  • please REMOVE the SPOILER image!! (picture of Rikiya)

  • Also, how long would it take to design one of these ‘body’ tattoos? How many hours would it take for a tattoo like Goro Majima’s to be actually inked?

  • Other than the traditional Japanese Irezumi styles, are there any contemporary influences in your work?
    Also when inking do you use a Tebori (tattooing by hand) technique or a Yobori (by machine) technique, as in the west? If you have used both which is your favourite?

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