The first tattoo that Kiku ever did was on his own leg. He was living in Tokyo at the time, working as a hairdresser and moonlighting with a tattoo gun after hours. He began practicing on himself, followed by his friends, and now, 17 years later, is an OG tattoo artist at Invisible NYC, one of the city’s finest establishments specializing in traditional American and Japanese tattoos.

We caught up with Kiku at Invisible’s Lower East Side studio during a break between clients. His paintings of traditional Japanese mythology depicting gaping skulls, tigers mid-growl, and fork-tongued serpents all popped with bold colors that seemed to jump off the walls. The tattoos that the Japan native has become renowned for are similar—elaborate yet uncluttered depictions of scenes dating back to hundreds of years ago, some of which have taken in excess of 57 hours to complete.

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Perseverance: The Japanese Tattoo Tradition in a Modern World

March 8 - September 14, 2014

A photographic exhibition by Kip Fulbeck, exploring the artistry and master craftsmanship of traditional Japanese tattooing.

Curated by Takahiro Kitamura, the exhibition features the work of seven internationally acclaimed Japanese tattooers Chris Brand, Horitaka, Horitomo, Miyazo, Shige, Junko Shimada, and Yokohama Horiken as shown in life-sized photographs by Fulbeck.

Revered as an art form worldwide for centuries, the Japanese tattoo has a long and tumultuous history with the country of its origin. Tattooing and tattooed individuals have been persecuted and stigmatized throughout Japan—including prohibitions on public display, work requirements specifying tattoo coverage (or the complete absence of tattoos), even the outlawing of the practice itself. Many of these bans are still in effect today.

Despite this negative public pressure and government repression, the Japanese tattoo tradition has not only persevered, it has thrived. Now practiced in various forms throughout the world, traditional Japanese Tattooing is internationally renowned for its artistry, lineage, historical symbolism, and skill.

PERSEVERANCE will investigate and showcase the breathtaking artistry of the Japanese Tattoo through the works of over 30 of the world’s leading contemporary tattoo artists.

The exhibition will also include Don Ed Hardy, Colin Horisou Baker, Stan Corona, Espi, Chris Garver, Jeff Gogue, Regino Gonzales, Jill Horiyuki Halpin, Tim Hendricks, Horikazu 4, Horikiku, Horitoshi Family Horizakura, Timothy Hoyer, Jakoh, Henning Jorgensen, Brian Kaneko, Robert Klem, Chad Koeplinger, Adrian Lee, L.A. Horitaka, Lil’ Tokyo Jiro, Sulu’ape Steve Looney, Chris O’Donnell, Chuey Quintanar, Kahlil Rintye, Stewart Robson, Mike Rubendall, Evan Skrederstu, Small Paul, Luke Stewart, The Grime, Tomo, and Dan Wysuph.

For updates about this exhibition, check Kip Fulbeck’s Facebook page for the

For press inquiries, contact [email protected] or 213.625.0414

Japanese Tattoo Master: “The carving is one’s personal symbol..”

Horiyoshi the Third, aka Yoshihito Nakano, the world’s most famous Japanese tattoo master, 66, said that ten years ago, he had many more yakuza clients than he has now. “Nowadays I have 90 percent of non-yakuza clients and 10 percent of yakuza clients. Ten years ago it was much different. After the entry in force of the boutaihou, (anti organized crime laws), I have  fewer gangsters as clients. The landscape has changed and so have the customers.”

Horiyoshi III showing one of his work of art on a lady's back, at a show organized at the FCCJ Continue reading

Tattoos Are Not Just For Yakuza Anymore

Tattoos are as Japanese as sushi, samurai, and yakuza but in recent years with the crackdown on organized crime (the yakuza), tattoos have become increasingly socially unacceptable while many younger Japanese and people living abroad have embraced tattoos as a fashion item.

In December last year, the government of Saitama Prefecture submitted a bill to revise local ordinances to prohibit tattoos under the age of 18. A fine of up to  500,000 yen will be levied on the violators of the law.  If a space is provided to tattoo on young people under 18, there is  a fine of up to 300,000 yen for the tattoo parlor owners. If the law is passed it will go into effect as of February 1st, this year.

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Australian International Tattoo Show 2012

Australia here I come!!

I’ll be attending the “Crazy A.I.T.S” (Australia International Tattoo Show) on November 2nd, 3rd & 4th, 2012 at the Hilton on the Park Melbourne.

Crazy AITS! (Australian International Tattoo Show) - 88 booths. Top artists from Australia and across the world meeting to exchange art, tattooing, camraderie and to celbrate tattooing with our friends in Australia is our goal!

Check the Crazy A.I.T.S. website to find out which artists are attending!

To book an appointment please contact me in advance.