Saturday, 25 December 2010


Kofuu Senju Publications wishes you a merry christmas and a happy new year 2011!!! Thank you very much for all your support in 2010!!!

(Photo by Alex Reinke, London Dec.2010)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

"Kokoro" Pre-order information.


As our first book, "Ryushin", continues to sell at a steady rate, the release of our photographic portrait of Irezumi master Horiyoshi III of Yokohama is drawing near.

"Kokoro" will be a 24 x 34 cm hardcover and threadbound creation. It will feature 250+ new photographs painting a picture of the artist, his spirit and his work. The cover will be printed and embossed and all the book's features will meet our high personal standards.

"Kokoro" will be officially released at the Milano Tattoo convention on the 11-13th of February 2011.

All photographs were created by Kofuu (Alex Reinke/Horikitsune) and Senju (Matti Sedholm/horimatsu), and have never been published before.

"Kokoro" comes in a highly limited edition of 550 handnumbered copies only.

As of today, we are taking pre-orders. The pre-orders have to be payed in advance through our Paypal account and the price is 234 Euro including shipping.
The numbers of the individual copies will be assigned in the order the pre-orders are coming in. We will keep a list of these numbers and Your individual number can be obtained through contacting us via email.

Our Paypal account is senju@kofuusenjupublications.com.

When paying for Your copy, please state the book's title and how many copies ordered.




(photograph from Horiyoshi III's studio by Matti Sedholm, Yokohama, september 2009)

Monday, 6 December 2010

In the middle of everything

The past few weeks I (Senju/horimatsu/Matti Sedholm) have been in the middle of what can at its best be described as some former of pleasant chaos.
At the same time as the winter darkness spreads its blanket of melancholy over the northern landscapes of Sweden, I have packed and shipped more copies of "Ryushin", worked hard on the selection of photographs for "Kokoro", as well as the graphic outlines of this upcoming book, and at the same time kept my private Irezumi work going.

It's been more than hectic, but achievement is a spirit full of rewards, piling up results and treasures from the treasury of hard work. We will soon be able to accept pre-orders for the higly limited hardcover edition of "Kokoro" (555 copies), and information on this will soon follow.

Please remember that if you would like to obtain your copy of "Ryushin" before christmas, orders have to be placed very soon.

/Senju


(photograph from Horiyoshi III's private collection by Alex reinke, Yokohama Japan april 2010)

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Nikon P7000


After many trips hauling lenses and bags, it has all shrunk down to the Nikon D700 and the Nikon 50/1.4 G lens. I realized some time ago that this is what is used in 97% of all the photographs I capture, so why sit like a fat rat on top of lenses that are of no use to me?

I took a while, but the lenses are sold by now, and the money invested in an other camera instead - the Nikon P7000. It's a compact (it's pretty big for being a compact but way smaller than my Nikon D700), and it of course has all the limitations of such a piece of machinery.
A huge and heavy DSLR is not something that is always with you, and ever since I took up photography I have searched for something that would not dissapoint me too much when I open the files in Lightroom.

A myriad of Canons, Nikons and even Panasonics have passed through my hands these last five years, but they have at their best simply made me want to cry. Until now, that is.

Just like Nikon waited and waited before releasing something like the D700 (that blew the competition away), I had to wait for many years before the people at Nikon finally came to their senses and designed a compact that actually works like a camera! It does!

I am not going to go into specifications, simply because I create photographs and have no inclination for hanging in forums nitpicking the far corners of obscure functions. neither do I shoot testcharts or worry about sharpness, resolution or speed. I base my judgement on the feeling in my guts.
What I want is something that looks like a real photograph when I open the file. Nikon has satisfied my desires on that point this time. If you try one out, you'll see for your self.

But do keep in mind that it doesn't really matter what camera you have, as long as you are pouring your heart and soul into your photography.

/Senju



(the above image was captured today in my office using the Nikon P7000)

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Let the madness commence.


There was so much work involved with creating "Ryushin", and it's safe to say the workload did not shrink the least after the successful release at the London Tattoo Convention late September this year. It merely shifted from from the creativity of designing a book to the creativity of packing and shipping the conclusion of the first action.

Now the real bulk of the designwork for "Kokoro", our photographical portrait of Horiyoshi III of Yokohama, is about to begin. Fingertips are paused in anticipation above the matte black plastic of the keys on the office computer. Literally thousands of photographs captured on our three latest visits in Yokohama, Kyoto, Eheiji (among others), has to be painfully destilled down into what would be a really good book. Sometimes it feels like the easiest way would be to run them all and never look back.

The framework of the design is already in place, continuing where "Ryushin" left off. We liked that simplicity, and it will back up the abundance of photos destined for a life within the covers of the book.
As the last remnants of the photgraphs captured on our latest visit (November this year) come into their final shape, selection will be the single biggest task at hand. Of course, that is not taking into consideration writing, selecting Koans and poems and ..........


(photograph of Senju/Horimatsu/Matti Sedholm at the Fudo Myoo temple in Yokohama was captured by Alex Reinke/Kofuu/Horikitsune in September 2009)

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

The Fox


MUMONKAN

CASE #2; HYAKUJO'S FOX

Whenever Hyakujo delivered a Zen lecture, an old man was always there with the monks, listening to it; and when they left the Hall, so did he. One day, however, he remained behind, and Hyakujo asked,"Who are you?"

The old man replied," I am not a human being. In the far distant past, when the Kashapa Buddha (the Sixth Buddha of the Seven Ancient Buddhas) preached in this world, I was the head monk in this mountain area. On one occasion a monk asked me whether an enlightened man could fall again under the law of karma (cause and effect), and I answered that he could not. Thus I became a fox for 500 rebirths and am still a fox. I beg you to release me from this condition through your Zen words."

Then he asked Hyakujo,"Is an enlightened man subject to the law of karma?" Hyakujo answered, "No one is free from the law of Karma."

At the words of Hyakujo the old man was enlightened, and said with a bow, "I am now released from rebirth as a fox and my body will be found on the other side of the mountain. May I request that you bury me as a dead monk?"

The next day Hyakujo had the Karmadana, or deacon, beat the clapper and he informed the monks that after the midday meal there would be a funeral service for a dead monk. "No one was sick or died," wondered the monks. "What does our Roshi mean?" After they had eaten, Hyakujo led them to the foot of a rock on the furthest side of the mountain, and with his staff poked the dead body of a fox and had it ritually cremated.

In the evening Hyakujo gave a talk to the monks and told them this story of the law of Karma. Upon hearing the story, Obaku asked Hyakujo, "You said that because a long time ago an old Zen master gave a wrong answer he became a fox for 500 rebirths. But suppose every time he answered he had not made a mistake, what would have happened then?" Hyakujo replied, "Just come here to me, and I will tell you the answer!" Obaku then went up to Hyakujo......and slapped the teacher's face. Hyakujo, clapping his hands and laughing, exclaimed, "I thought the Persian had a red beard, but here is another one with a red beard!"

Mumon's Comment:
"The enlightened man is not subject to Karma." How can this answer make the monk a fox? "The enlightened man is not free from the law of karma." How can this answer release him from his fox's life? If you have one eye in regard to this, then you understand Hyakujo's (the old man's) dramatic 500 rebirths.

Free from karma or subject to it,
They are two sides of the same dice.
Subject to karma or free from it,
Both are irredeemable errors.



(photograph from Kennen-ji, Kyoto, Japan. November 2010 by Matti Sedholm/Senju/Horimatsu)

Monday, 15 November 2010

Myth


When polishing the mirror of everyday life, it becomes evident that most of what you believe to be true and absolute is really not. Reality is an agreement with the self and others concerning the issue of understanding the reality around you. This is where the confusion begins.

In lack of own experience, we start adding "truths" to our mental hard drive already at an early age. This is quite understandable and perhaps very necessary as well. To prevent the stars and the moon from falling down into the sea, we attach to them the qualities needed to leave them where they are, and go about our daily business of food, shelter and sometimes procreation.

We often regard reality as complex and hard to grasp. We ponder problems and invent so(u)lutions, still ending up in the bathroom with that empty roll of toiletpaper. What to do?

In all reality, reality is no more complex than the piece of rock on the ground before you. It is what it is.
Rock.
Our imagination can, out of fear, turn this rock into any shape necessary to patch the complex web of illusion that we call Life. Nevertheless, it is still a rock. There is perhaps something called truth, but don't believe for a second that what you call true is really that - true.

Keep polishing the mirror and it will become clear.

/Senju


(photograph of Horiyoshi III's work by Matti Sedholm, Yokohama November 2010)

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Return into this life.

Almost a week has now passed since our return to Europe.
Up here in the north of Sweden, the snow has started to fall, covering the everyday life of humans in a velvet blanket of whiteness. It is as usual a dualistic emotion that strikes. The loss of simpler ways versus the hardships of the pure but harsh mistress that is winter.

The visit to Japan remains a blur of Irezumi, photography, sun, rain, insights and spiritual gifts bestowed on the ones in such a dire need of paths to walk.

The collecting of visual material for our spiritual portrait of Irezumi master horiyoshi III of Yokohama has now ended. Floating chest high in visual expressions of things that have such difficulties assuming the shape of words, we are now left with the final stages of the creation of "Kokoro".

We are as eager as You, perhaps more so, to see what spectre we will be able to conjure up. When everything is a the tip of ones tounge, it becomes difficult to speak.


Some news on "Kokoro";

The hardcover edition will be limited to 555 copies only.
In the coming weeks we will establish the final outline of the book, and as soon as the price is set, we will make it available for pre-order. Due to the extremely small edition, pre-orders have to be payed when placed.

Expect more news in the next few days.


(photograph from Horiyoshi III's studio by Matti Sedholm, Yokohama November 2010)

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Kofuu-Senju Publications shooting for new Irezumi book "Dentobori"



Today we spent the whole day shooting for our upcoming book on hand tattooing Irezumi master Nakamura Toshikazu from Fukuoka, Japan. After setting up our lights and other equipment the day flew by in a blur of amazing traditional Japanese tattoo pieces, all of which will form the visual outline for a book we feel will become a classic.

Weather in Fukuoka proved a shift from the rainy and windy Yokohama we arrived in, all due to a shift in direction of the approching cyclone we feared was going to affect our visit to this southern island of Japan.

We remind any buyers of "Ryushin" that no books will be shipped until our return to europe in the end of the upcoming week.

Sunday, 24 October 2010

For a while.


Tomorrow is packing day.
Hustling frantically to get the camera gear stowed away and trying not to forget to bring fresh underwear. Toothbrush, earplugs and maybe a good book. Always confusing.....packing up for a trip to Japan.

This past month has been thrilling, to say the least. It's not everyday that people publish books they only dreamed about publishing a few years back. Seemingly out of nowhere we pulled "Ryushin" (with a great deal of help adn suport from Horiyoshi III), and it's beyond rewarding to hold a work you yourselves created in trembling hands. What cannot be achieved after this?

We have so many ideas, so many leads, and so little time. If we could have our way we would fill up bookshelves in this instant. before that, of course, always comes hard and dilligent work.

Seems like ages since I lifted the camera spiritually to capture the illusive ghosts and demons of reality. Now it beckons me for attention. "Use me", it whispers from its tucked away existance in the black camera bag beside the desk where the double screens display the first outlines of the pages for "Kokoro". There's no telling where we will end up this time, friends. All I am sure of, is that the universe will gently place us where we need to be.

We will try to find time and opportunity to update this blog when on our travels in Japan, but sometimes internet connections are few and far inbetween. But rely on at least something from us in the bext two weeks.

Until then.

/Senju


(photograph of Horiysohi III's work by Alex Reinke, Yokohama, Japan 2010)

Friday, 22 October 2010

On Photography (Irezumi)




The beauty lies within the loss of the moment

/Senju



(photograph of Maiko in Gion, Kyoto, Japan created by Matti Sedholm/Senju)

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Six Days


Woke up to the realization that winter is rapidly approaching up here in the north. Seven degrees minus celsius this morning. Everything changes. Summer tires on the car makes driving to the office a bit more exiting than I would like it to be. Thank heavens I am going to Japan next week.

Only a few days left to order "Ryushin" before we go to Japan. Shipping will end on the 25th and resume on the 6th of November.

Those pre-orders of "ryushin" that are not already payed are now regarded as void, and those copies will be added as available. We are very pleased with the interest our book has gained, and will continue sending out books as fast as we possibly can.




(photograph from the Yokohama Tattoo Museum created by Alex Reinke, autumn 2009)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Mere seven days

In a week we'll be landing in Japan in order to attempt a conclusion in gathering material for our upcoming book "Kokoro". Since the project was first initiated it has taken its turns, metamorphosing and evolving. To try to paint this portrait of Horiyoshi III has proved to be a task of catching a soul, a ghost.

At first there were only images and silent whispers. They later turned into the urge for words. An urge to tell something beyond what has already been said. At the present we are staring a ghost in the face, not really shure how to react or what to say. But there's a strong sense of being grateful for the experience and the opportunity to express. As the last and feverishly hectic months of producing this book will commence short upon our homecoming, I am sure we'll see more colors in the scales of the dragon.

"kokoro" will not be a lot of things.
That we know.
It will not be a biography in the traditional sense of the word. Neither a book of tattoos solely. We have felt that there is more to this than the visulaity of it all, and we're trying to find out what that "more" is.
Of course the book will contain lots of images of Irezumi, along with all the other things that we have picked up on the way, but in order for the traditional Japanese tattoo to come into existence, there has to be "Kokoro", the soul, the heart of things. Maybe Horiyoshi III can tell us what that is. And show us.

While waiting for the release of this book, please explore Horiyoshi III's work in our newly released book "Ryushin". A work that hopefully has pointed out the direction in which we are heading.

(photograph of Horiyoshi III's Irezumi work by Matti Sedholm, Yokohama, Japan 2009)

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Lull.

In between 25/10 and 7/11 we will be on the field (Japan) working on our upcoming bookprojects, so there will be a lull in the shipping activities for "Ryushin". If you want to order this limited edition book, and make sure we can ship it before we go, please place your order no later than 24/10. Usually books go out within twentyfour hours, and sometimes fortyeight, so last minute orders can be taken care of. You can order it on the right hand top of this blog.

Plans are laid and gear is being packed for the photographing of "Nakamura's World". We look forward to present this traditional Japanese tattoists take on things, and it wouldn't be surprising if some images end up on this blog before the actual book is printed and shipped.

We will try to update the blog as much as possible when we are in Japan, so make sure to check in once in a while.

During the last month we have been totally immersed in the selling and shipping of copies of "Ryushin" and we are truly grateful for the outstanding reception it has gotten, both inside and outside of the tattoo community. Thanks!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Important on the pricing of "Ryushin".


Due to "currency wars" and ongoing "twists" in the worlds economy at the moment we have decided to set the price of "Ryushin" in Euro (€) instead of the Swedish krona. At the moment the Swedish currency is one of the strongest, which makes our books more and more expensive for buyers worldwide with each day that passes. The Euro is more balanced against the dollar and in the future we will set our prices in abovementioned currency.

The price will now be 199 € plus 35 € for packing and shipping.


This of course means that some indivudals that has already bought the book through our blog has in reality payed a higher price. For these buyers there will be a 15% discount on the next book they choose to purchase.
If anyone wants to discuss this matter with us, please send us a mail at senju@kofuusenjupublications.com


(photograph from Konchi-in, Kyoto, Japan by Matti Sedholm 2008)

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Rain-WInd-Grey-Cold

Another day of grey, steel-cold, bitter October. September beauty left without saying goodbye properly. I miss her. Another morning spent in the storage room packing books and writing invoices. Am I happy? I have no complaints.


(photograph from Gion, Kyoto, Japan by Matti Sedholm 2008)

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Past Week/New Ways

Strange how fast a week can pass you by. Since the copies of "Ryushin" arrived there has been little time for anything else than packing and shipping. Luckily enough we set it up beforehand, so that boxes, packing materials etc, was ready.
Being a tattooer and photographer, it's not a working day I'm used to, but I welcome the change with open arms.


To become stagnant is the worst enemy of creativity, and creativity hides everywhere in life. If you try to perform the task at hand the best you can, pretty soon it all becomes equally rewarding. Strange how packing books and riding to the post office can trigger new outlooks on the backgrounds for my Irezumi, or point me towards new subject matter in photography.

This past week Kofuu-Senju Publications have had to butt heads with PayPal several time. As we have chosen this payment option, because of its reputed easy-to-handleness, we have found it not so easy at all.
For instance, when we send out our money requests to buyers of "Ryushin", it comes out in swedish only. Suddenly the inbox was full of confused buyers not being able to make out what it said. I called PayPal, and they simply said that this is how it works. You get assigned the language of your native country when signing up, and there's nothing that can be done about it.
This has cost me many hours huddled over the keyboard at the office. Frustrating. What was supposed to be easy became a minefield of correspondance.

Finally, a buyer came up with a simple solution! Instead of us asking the buyer for the money, they can simply pay send us the money from their own PayPal account. Simple as that! Everyone can now do it in their own preffered language. Thanks, Geoff!

We're now counting down to our next visit to Japan. We're going to finalize the material for our upcoming photo book on Horiyoshi III, "Kokoro", as well as photograph and collect the material for our upcoming book on Japanese traditional tattooist Nakamura Toshikazu. "Nakamura's World" (working title so far), is scheduled for next autumn. Probably we'll be negotiating with another exellent Horishi, about an upcoming book project on him as well.
Busy,busy, busy........
But fun!

If anyone that has pre-ordered "Rysushin" ahs not recieved their money request from us, or if any other problem regarding this is occuring, please let us know.
make sure to check your spam folder, just in case some important update on Your order has ended up there.

Now its back to packing and shipping.

/Senju





(photograph of Nakamura Toshikazu by Alex Reinke, Fukuoka, Japan 2009)

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Globailty.


Today was spent on the phone with Paypal, wondering why the removing of the acceptance limitations took such a long time. Once that was sorted, I could finally send out invoices to people in England, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Italy, USA, Luxembourg, Canada, Australia and Poland. Seems that this book of ours will travel the globe in the near future.

If somebody didn't get their invoice, please let us know, and we'll immediately correct it!

/Senju


(photograph from Horiyoshi III's studio in Yokohama was captured by Matti Sedholm 2009)

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Arrival.





Hauling 1300 kilos of books onto an elevator and drag them through a hallway and then finally stack the boxes up in the storage space....well, I am happy it's not the central part of creating good books on Irezumi. I will cut short the usual ramblings and leave you with the first hastily captured photographs of Kofuu-Senju Publications first publishing effort. I am very pleased with the result. It came out as a very solid creation, and finally all doubts can be put to rest. The limited edition "Ryushin" can for now be easily ordered by simply sending us an email at senju@kofuusenjupublications.com, stating your name and shipping adress. We will return with a PayPal invoice including packing and shipping. Once that is payed the book goes in the mail.

Monday, 27 September 2010

"Ryushin" delivery update.

As all foolproof systems, shipping is of course a subject of margins of errors. The delivery of the copies of "Ryushin" was originally set for wednesday this week, then changed for today. After waiting most of the day at the office I called them up and got notified that delivery will in actuality occur tomorrow(!). Confusing, yes, but not really a problem.

Of a more problematic nature is the news that I am awaiting 1,3 tons (!) of books, and I am the only person there to haul the boxes into storage. Seems like that long overdue workout is about to happen.

More news tomorrow.

"Ryushin", our new Horiyoshi III book, was well recieved at the London Tattoo Convention.


Alex Reinke (Horikitsune, Kofuu) represented Kofuu-Senju Publications, as well as the Horiyoshi III Family, at the London Tattoo Convention that was held this past weekend. Together with him was Kazuyoshi (Horiyoshi III's son) and their friend Horikazu.
The convention was a busy one, and the release of "Ryushin" was highly anticipated as well as very well recieved. Booksales exeeded our expectations, and we are really pleased with the outcome of the weekend.

Myself could not attend this (for us) historic event, but was kept updated daily on the developments. Today I sit anxiously awaiting the delivery of the "Ryushin" copies destined for the Kofuu-Senju Publications swedish office. As soon as they arrive I will post images of the finnished work at this blog, as well as start mailing out copies to all those who pre-ordered it.
It's a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun as well!!

Keep your eyes peeled for the next post!

/Senju


(photograph from Fukuoka, snatched from the car as we rode to meet Nakamura Toshikazu late last summer, wa captured by Alex Reinke)

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Day Off.

Tuesday. Raining. Sitting around waiting for a shipment of packing materials for "Ryushin".
As soon as the books arrives on monday next week, the shipping out begins to all those who made reservations of "Ryushin", the new dragon book by Horiyoshi III.
Seems almost like a day off.

/Senju


(photograph from Nanzen-ji captured by Matti Sedholm, Kyoto, Japan spring 2007)

Monday, 20 September 2010

"Ryushin", our new Horiyoshi III book, will be available at the London Tattoo Convention.


Friday morning I spoke to the bookbinders as they were approaching the completion of the printing process of "Ryushin". As in most cases, ample time shrunk down into a hair's width, but they seem to be able to deliver the first threehundred copies to London before noon on the 24th of September.
Unless ships are sunk or aeroplanes crash, you will be able to see the finnished work first hand at the London Convention this coming weekend. The book will be sold at the Horiyoshi III Family booth. Look for it and you will most certainly find it.

The rest of the books will arrive here in Umeå around the same time, and all of you out there around the world that already reserved your copy will be getting your Paypal invoices in the inbox. This also means that we will be able to finally show the finnished work here on this blog, and that I am going to spend many hours packing and shipping.

Info on how to reserve a copy can be found at the top of the right hand column of this blog.

/Senju


(photograph captured by Matti Sedholm, Nanzen-in, Kyoto, Japan autumn 2007)

Friday, 17 September 2010

Irezumi continues to be main theme for Kofuu-Senju Publications.


A mere seven days remains until our Horiyoshi III dragon book "Ryushin" can finally meet its public. Being the first effort of two persons that one day decided to make the books they themselves wanted to buy, it's a nervewrecking week of awaiting response and reactions.

The past six months have been inspirational but rough. Where do you begin when you have never made a book before? And how the hell is it done? The answers were definetely fewer than the questions. So many things to suddenly learn –typography, book editing software, delivering for print, paper qualities, bookbinding options, promotion, transportation, storing.....

It seemed endless in the beginning. I am sure that the professional in any of the aforementioned fields will find faults in our productions, but we decided at an early stage to try to keep all the necessary required parts of the process in-house. When making books on subjects that are close to the heart for us, it seemed unatural to leave it to somebody else to interpret our intentions. Maybe that comes from the years of dilligent struggle to interpret Irezumi and it's related cultural phenomena? At least I like to think so.


The approach to making the Kofuu-Senju books is to treat each book as a separate work of art. I myself has always been passionately interested in finding the alternatives that fit into my own way of relating to the world around me. In a sense this is the same credo that sustains Horiyoshi III's constant development artistically, called Shuhari in japanese. Basically this means that you first learn the tradition, then tear it down in order to create something beyond the former.

So what is a book really? In its fundamental sense , it's a set number of pages with some content within the borders of the front and the back of the covers. I even would like to go so far as to say that the pages within could even be blank! The rule being no-rule, meaning that the image of a book is, as anything else purely subjective to the its creator. Kofuu-Senju Publications have made this their starting point in book creating and designing.


With "Ryushin" soon fresh from the printers, and "Kokoro" well underway in design, we are now looking forward to future projects. In order to present to you some kind of an release-schedule, we've figured it out like this:

24th of September 2010: "Ryushin"

Around the turn of the year 2010/2011: "Kokoro"

Early autumn 2010: "Ryushin II" and "Nakamura's
World"

Sometime during 2011: Another book about a Japanese
Irezumi artist. Plans are laid but
not finalized. The name will be
released at a later date.


Of course, Since the only rule is No-rule, our creative minds will probaly find more things of interest to create books around during this period, so make sure you return to this blog to get the information as it unfolds.

For those unable to attend the London Tattoo Convention next weekend there's always the possibility to reserve a copy of "Ryushin" beforehand. Just click here.

/Senju



(Photograph of recent horiyoshi III Irezumi work was created by Alex Reinke in Yokohama, Japan April 2010.)

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

On Irezumi.


When you study Irezumi it is necessary to go beyond mere linework and shading. The pigment inserted into the skin is just a conclusion of what came before that moment. The fundamental uniqueness of Irezumi lies in its gathering of all the possible aspects of Japanese culture and history, transforming the sum of them into a spiritual and visual brocade.
Irezumi draws its power from zen, ink, paper, demons, ghosts, heroes and myth, as well as the chilled and canned café au lait that you get from one of the inumerable vending machines on any street corner in modern day Japan.

Irezumi is not old. It just started long ago. It's a common mistake to think that by practising Irezumi, you are dwelling on the past, preserving it. Irezumi is a continuous phenomena, meant to evolve and never to sit still and sulk in the dusty robe of history. Just like the Japanese garden, it is meant to explore, and with every corner and turn, there's new scenery to experience and benefit from.


(Photograph from Koto-in, Kyoto, Japan was created by Matti Sedholm in March 2007)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Nakamura Toshikazu, "Kokoro" and the running cat.


What can one do when creativity comes knocking? There's no use struggling to remain calm and sane. Like swimming against a raging river, it becomes an exercise in futility. Let go of the last piece of driftwood and take the plunge.

This autumn we're going down to Fukuoka to photograph for our upcoming book on traditional shamisenbori tattooist Nakamura Toshikazu. His style is based on the same culture as Horiyoshi III of Yokohama, still geographical, personal and other differences sees the artistic results in a whole different dress. It will be very interesting to approach his work phographically, since time place and subject twists the arm of creation. What form will we discover this time?

All the initial photography form our next book, "Kokoro", a journey into the spirit of horiyoshi III, has now been edited. This means in no way that we are even close to the finnished book. Now comes selection, wrestling with the contextual form and giving it a final shape in design.
time runs faster than a cat who's tail caught fire! Grab hold!



(photograph of Horikazu captured on a river boat in Fukuoka, Japan, September 2009 by Alex reinke. Irezumi work by Horiyoshi III)

Friday, 10 September 2010

"Ruyshin" book facts


Well, Facebook does not seem to budge an inch, so I guess we're back to the homing pigeons. Quite incredible how such a enormous piece of digital machinery can be so incompetent. Possibly this will be the end of Kofuu-Senju Publications Facebook endeavours. If FB can't come to their digital senses, we'll rely on old fashioned blogging for communication.

As promised yesterday I will post the book facts (size etc) right here, right now.

Book Facts:


Limited edition of 2000 copies.

Hardcover and threadbound.

Embossed cover title and spine.

24 x 34 cm (aprox. 9,5 x 13,5 inches)

208 pages printed on uncoated 150 gr Scandia 2000 paper.

Careful editing and personal design by Kofuu-Senju Publications

Printed by Fälth & Hässler, Sweden.

Featuring photography by Alex Reinke and Matti Sedholm


So, there it is. Remember, it is possible to reserve your copy/copies of "Ryushin" by sending an email to senju@kofuusenjupublications.com. State Your name and shipping adress and we will reply with an Paypal invoice as soon as the book arrives. Set release date is September 24th 2010, at the London Tattoo Convention.



(photograph captured at temple close to Yanaka Cemetary, Tokyo, Japan by Matti Sedholm autumn 2007)

Thursday, 9 September 2010

"Ryushin" - the dragons of Horiyoshi III





Here we show 4 samples from our new book "Ryushin". There's a 195 more inbetween the covers, and it's a comprehensive collection of Horiyoshi III's latest and perhaps most succesful effort to capture the spirit of the Japanese dragon (Ryu). This morning a mailman knocked at my door with an express delivery - a sample of the printed version of "Ryushin" for approval. I could do nothing but immediately do so. Until now, decisions concerning paper and editing has been locked away in one's and zero's on a string of computers. This morning I could finally see that all that hard work payed off.

Of course, the cover still remains to bo unveiled to us, as that's the binder's business, and not the printer's. So in a way we are still sitting on needles here.

Facebook are still locked down in its game of Catch 22. This morning I was finally able to add my phone in order to get a code texted to me, but no text message showed up. At this point I am not so surprised. The Iphone Facebook app still doesn't work, and I have come to regard this phenomena as a boat full of holes. One of these days I might get back in there again, but my hopes are vanquished and full of dust by now.

Tomorrow we'll be posting the final facts on the book (size etc).

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Pressreleasing.


When trying to spread information on our new Horiyoshi III book, "Ryushin", via Facebook yesterday, something odd happened. Suddenly facebook wanted me to confirm my identity by adding a mobile phone. However facebook doesn't support mobile phone carriers from Sweden so there was no way I could do that technically.
Now my option was to obtain a code so I could upload my mobile phone number anyway, but in order to do this I have to be logge in, which is impossible since I cannot add a phone. Catch 22 indeed. I then turned to my Iphone for facebook acess, but there I can't log in either. Facebook says my username and password is incorrect (which it is not. Tried a million times). so here we are - Facebookless at the peak of our publishing efforts. One can only smile, and miss the age of the homing pigeon a little bit.

Otherwise the day has been spent mailing out pressreleases to tattoo magazines. Quite a mindnumbing task after a while. Nevertheless, I pushed through, so that is taken care of as well.

So what to do now? I am preparing three sneak previews of the paintings featured in the book for tomorrows blog. Be sure to stop back for that little event as well.

/Senju


(photograph from Samukawa Jinya captured by Alex reinke, Japan april 2010)

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Kokoro - Kofuu-Senju Publications next book on Horiyoshi III of Yokohama.


"Kokoro" (heart, mind, spirit) is the title of our next book project. Originally, it was our first idea, but when visiting Horiyoshi III in april this year, he showed his latest dragon ink paintings to us and asked if this would not be a great Kofuu-Senju project. We could nothing but to resppond to the obvious, and decided to publish "Ryushin" before "Kokoro".

The idea of making "Kokoro" sprung to life late 2008 and it is a conclusion of our studies in Irezumi and its related culture and history. Over the years pieces had been assembled into a puzzle, (always to be incomplete) and the image of it started communicating with us on a more spiritual level.

There have been a number of books on Horiyoshi III's magnificent catalogue of work, but we felt that something was lacking. Often these books visually presented the works of art but never the creator behind them. In a sense, the traditional Japanese tattoos of Horiyoshi III were merely hung like paintings in a gallery. Where was the context? Where was Horiyoshi III?

When we, (Alex and Matti), first met, we immediately discovered that we had many things in common when it came to the appreciation of Japanese culture. We were both deeply moved by Zen buddhism and it concepts, we dabbled in Japanese martial arts and we had started to se patterns and connections inbetween these various phenomena. We were both pursuing Irezumi in a most serious way, and in the midst of all this a pattern of thought, emotion and insight emerged.

"Kokoro" will be a visual expression of these patterns. Often words jumbles up even the most simple of concepts and we will try to show the phenomena of Horiyoshi III, Irezumi and Kokoro in a graphic form. "Kokoro" will contain a large amount of newly captured photography, both of Horiyoshi III as an artist, in private and in portraiture, as well as many new images of his Irezumi work, both new and old. This will be set in combination with short texts, poetry, zen, and the things that surface in the process..

It will be a big book, and the photography will be of high quality. and we will use renowned swedish printers Fälth & Hässler in order to ensure the highest quality in the finnished product.


Meanwhile, don't forget to reserve your copy of "Ryushin", which is released very soon! You can obtain information on how to do this here.



(photograph of Horiyoshi III writing "kokoro" was captured by Matti Sedholm in Yokohama, Japan autumn 2009)

Monday, 6 September 2010

Inbetween one Horiyoshi III book and another Horiyoshi III book.


"Ryushin" is at the mercy of the printers (Fälth & Hässler), and I pray they have mercy on my soul. There's a slight void, a creative emptiness, that lingers at the office these past few days. The work on "Kokoro", our second book on the subject of Horiyoshi III and Irezumi has already begun. Thousands of photographs have been sorted, selected, rejected and made their transformation from RAW to printables. There are still a few hundred to process, but then the actual designing of the work will begin.

"Kokoro" started as one idea, transformed into another, and finally returned to the original one. We feel fairly confident in the original idea, and have decided to run with it.
With only a few months until the actual printing of that work, this office (Senju's) and the other (Kofuu's) will once again be filled with creative energy. There will also be plenty of despair and desperation, of course. Wouldn't wanna be without it.

While you are waiting for news on "Kokoro", make sure to reserve you copy of "Ryushin". There's a limited amount of copies being made, and the pre-orders have started coming in.
Don't miss out. More info on how to pre-order your copy can be found here.

/Senju


(photograph from Fushimi Inari, outside Kyoto, was created by Matti Sedholm November 2008)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Reserve a copy of the upcoming Horiyoshi III book "Ryushin".


It is now possible to reserve Your copy/copies of "Ryushin". Official release date is 24/9 at the London Tattoo Convention. With only a few weeks until release we are now taking Your resevations. Send an e-mail to senju@kofuusenjupublications.com and let us know your name, adress and how many copies you want. When the book is out we'll send you an e-mail Paypal invoice. Just click the Pay Now button and the wheels are in motion.

Remember that this is a limited Edition work. No more than 2000 copies will be made. No softcover edition and no revised editions.

Facts on "Ryushin" (size, content etc) can be found here, here and here.

The price is 2000 SEK plus shipping.
Further facts on this book will be released during the coming weeks.



(photograph from Kennin-ji, Kyoto, Japan was created by Matti Sedholm in October 2008)

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Ryushin - dragon illustrations by Horiyoshi III of Yokohama


The final changes and corrections have been made to the design of "Ryushin", our upcoming book of new Horiyoshi III designs. The phone and the mailbox are silent and empty now. Seems like I finally did everything right and the printers can get busy on all their magic. There's still three more weeks until "Ryushin" becomes paper and covers to me, instead of ones and zeros in my computer. There is probably, but not hopefully, some mistakes and faults in there, as Horiyoshi III himself would maybe comment - "It's all Human Life".

What remains now is a few days rest before the bulk of work on "Kokoro", our upcoming photographic book on Horiyoshi III and his heart beginns. Almost all the photographs are processed and ready for selection. We have thousands to choose from, and selecting will probably be the most difficult part of that project. It's very tricky to now when to stop creating photographs around a project. Personally I could go on for a hundred years, if allowed. Fortunately I am not.




(photograph of Horiyoshi III clients created by Matti Sedholm/Senju in Yokohama, Japan 2009)

Monday, 30 August 2010

Horiyoshi III, "Ryushin" and the art of never finnishing.

The weekend didn't turn out to be all the rest that I imagined when it started. Being the first book we design everything had to be done at least three times. Mistakes slip through fingers like small fish, and as soon as I uploaded a file something else showed up. The weekend was spent bent over the laptop fending of sick kids, trying to concentrate on correcting what was amiss, and at the same time trying to be a family father.
Well, what doesn't kill you makes you......I don't know....a little wiser, at least.

Anyway, the book should be in print now, and all that remains is waiting.

New plans for visiting Japan has been made as well. We hopefully start shooting for the Nakamura book in the beginning of November this year. This time we'll bring professional lighting, but I am not sure if that's what we're using when it all boils down. Me and Alex are fans of natural light, so if opportunity presents itself we might end up not even unpacking the big flashes, softboxes and tripods. Photography is best performed as simple as possible. Focus and flow. Not fiddling about with buttons.

In all, things are best performed on an intuitive basis. It's the mind and belly that needs liberating. When this is done, anything is possible! "Getting it right" is the business of killing intuition on the spot. Rules are just a starting point for breaking them, but simply breaking them in lack of anything wiser to do, will just make it look imature and to early to pick from the creatiative tree. Just relax. You'll now when it's right. Inhale. Exhale. Again.

/Senju


(photography of Tokyo sunset created by Matti Sedholm, Tokyo, Japan 2008)

Friday, 27 August 2010

Work, rest. Then work.


Close to midnight last night the finnished work of "Ryushin" was uploaded to the printers server. Hopefully everything will be to the printers pleasure so there can finally be and end to this weeks daily 12-hour shifts in front of the computer. As always, the final moments of designing a work like this saw some changes to the better. Some photography was included, one painting was pulled because of layout reasons, and paper and covermaterial was replaced for better choices.
I have all the confidence necessary for Fälth & Hässler, the printers, for making this a work to be proud of. Any mistakes or faults in the production will be entirely on our hands.
If all goes according to plan the book will arrive in London in time for the London Tattoo Convention, which starts on the 24th of september, and those interested in obtaining a copy can do so there.
The book will also be available through our website and this blog. Bear in mind that "ryushin" runs in a limited edition of 2000 hardcover copies, and that no more will be printed after that. There will not be a softcover edition since we aim to keep a high quality profile.

Today I am resting by the computer editing photos for our upcoming book on Horiyoshi III himself called "Kokoro", which should, if all goes well, be ready sometime in the end of the year.

/Senju


(photograph of Senju sitting in zazen at Shunko-in, Kyoto, Japan, was created by Alex Reinke in september 2009)

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

End Game.

The last breaths are exhausted this week on the design of "Ryushin", our book on Horiyoshi III's new dragon ink and brush paintings.
I have been researching and crossreferencing the translations of the charachters appearing in the book so many times now, that I feel completely full to the brim with new knowledge. Perhaps that is the most unexpected and welcome side effect of doing this - all the new insights, aha's and piling up of knowledge.
Knowledge in it self has no real purpose. there's no point in hoarding it like a squirrel hoarding nuts for the winter. No, it's when the knowledge is put in a practical context it becomes allive and breathing. Then it can be your best friend.

There is such a thing as knowing to much.
Reality easily becomes distorted when the mind is cluttered with facts and theories. It's fine line inbetween living in the real world or simply sheltering in a creation of your own imagination.

The older I get, the more I understand how little I understood back then when I thought I knew it all. In reality, I can easily say that I know less now than before, but more of what I know now is real and not imagination or confusion. Knowledge is not truth. It's just a pile of stuff.

/senju



(photograph captured by Matti Sedholm, Horiyoshi III's studio, Yokohama, late summer 2009)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

The fastest time in the universe....


.....is not in this mans eyes, but shoots like a rocket through my life right now.
Today I finally got the order of the paintings for "Ryushin" set and ready. Now it's time for creating the index of characters portrayed and establish some type of pagination.

Creating a book like this fuels the creative part of the I, and ideas swirl by faster than renegade satellites. Juices are flowing. The artistic adrenalin pumping.
I will be tired come the 28th of August.

/Senju


(photograph captured in Kyoto by Matti Sedholm. October 2007)

Monday, 16 August 2010

Approaching cataclysm. Two weeks until deadline for Horiyoshi III book.


Summer has returned briefly here in the north of Sweden, and everything is sticky and hot. As I return to more steady work schedules I find us approaching deadline for the printing of "Ryushin" at the speed of light.
There's comfort in the realization that this has always been the way Deadlines approaches us.

All the paintings are edited and about 60 titles brushed in Horiyoshi III's expressive hand remains to be added, and after that the shape of the book as a whole can take form. Many things are already nailed down when it comes to the graphical aspects and typesetting, but I am sure there are many hidden trapdoors and creative assassins before we reach the printed conclusion of everybody's efforts.


(photograph captured by Matti Sedholm, Konchi-in, Kyoto; Japan 2008)

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

End of Summer

We're now at the finnishing end of the editing of Horiyoshi III's ink and brush paintings for our book "Ryushin" (to be released at the London Tattoo Convention 24th of September this year), and the deadline from the printers is just a few weeks away. A lot of work still remains.
What a fortunate thing that the summer is dying away.




(photograph captured by Matti Sedholm at Konchi-in, Kyoto, Japan 2008)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

The Gateless Gate #1


CASE 1. JOSHU'S DOG

A monk asked Joshu: "Has a dog Buddha nature?"
Joshu replied, "Mu"

Mumon's Comment:
For the pursuit of Zen, you must pass through the barriers (gates) set up by the Zen masters. To attain his mysterious awareness one must completely uproot all the normal workings of one's mind.

If you do not pass through the barriers, nor uproot the normal workings of your mind, whatever you do and whatever you think is a tangle of ghost.

Now what are the barriers? This one word "Mu" is the sole barrier. This is why it is called the Gateless Gate of Zen. The one who passes through this barrier shall meet with Joshu face to face and also see with the same eyes, hear with the same ears and walk together in the long line of the patriarchs. Wouldn't that be pleasant?

Would you like to pass through this barrier? Then concentrate your whole body, with its 360 bones and joints, and 84,000 hair follicles, into this question of what "Mu" is; day and night, without ceasing, hold it before you. It is neither nothingness, nor its relative "not" of "is" and "is not." It must be like gulping a hot iron ball that you can neither swallow nor spit out.

Then, all the useless knowledge you have diligently learned till now is thrown away. As a fruit ripening in season, your internal and external spontaneously become one. As with a mute man who had had a dream, you know it for sure and yet cannot say it. Indeed your ego-shell suddenly is crushed. You can shake heaven and earth. Just as with getting ahold of a great sword of a general, when you meet Buddha you will kill Buddha. A master of Zen? You will kill him, too. As you stand on the brink of life and death, you are absolutely free. You can enter any world as if it were your own playground. How do you concentrate on this Mu? Pour every ounce of your entire energy into it and do not give up, then a torch of truth will illuminate the entire universe.

Mumon's verse:

Has a dog the Buddha nature?
This is a matter of life and death.
If you wonder whether a dog has it or not,
You certainly lose your body and life!



(photograph of nun at Kiyomizudera, Kyoto; japan 2007. Captured by Matti Sedholm)



Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Repetition.


Zen is repetition. So is life. Over and over again.
Photography and Irezumi the very same.
If one search too hard for the genuine thing, the result will only appear as artificial and desperate.
Irezumi repeats the same designs and moves in ever familiar ways, yet the refinement becomes obvious when you look back at what has been achieved over the years. Photography remains the same. The strongest photographs are mostly created in the same situations as they always were.

Why is that?

The simple answer is Life.
It's what we do everyday that weaves the web, create the miracles. All created images becomes selfportraits when looked upon. Throw away Like and Dislike. Just Move Ahead. It will all be fantastic. You'll see.

Dragon. Tiger.
Over and over again.
Just like hugging my children or eating my soup.



(photograph created by Matti Sedholm at Kenninji, Kyoto, Japan October 2008)