Thursday, 27 May 2010

New Irezumi book project - Nakamura Toshikazu.






KofuuSenju Publications will publish a book on Kyushu Irezumi artist Nakamura Toshikazu (Kyusyu Soutebori Aikoukai), hopefully in the later half of 2011. When photographing for our current project "Kokoro", a book about the spirit of yokohama Irezumi master Horiyoshi III, we made a short trip to Fukuoka on southern Japanese island of Kyushu and had the great pleasure to meet and talk to Nakamura Toshikazu in his studio. Nakamura-san tattoos everything by hand, using Shamisenbori technique, which is a variant of its more wellknown sibling Tebori. His work is simple, traditional and very powerful and we are happy that we have been given the opportunity to bring it to a wider, international audience. More news as they unfold.
(photographs made by Matti Sedholm at the studio of Nakamura-san, Kyushu, Japan)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Not tiring of deafeat leads to victory.



(photograph made by Matti Sedholm at Kawahara Dojo's children kendo practice, Idogaya, Yokohama, Japan)

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Release date for "Ryushin - chasing the dragons tail", a book of dragon brush drawings by Horiyoshi III.


Kofuu-Senju Publications first effort, "Ryushin - chasing the dragons tail", a collection of new brush paintings/drawings made by Horiyoshi III of Yokohama, will be released on the 24th of September this year, and will be available that very same day to the visitors of the 2010 London Tattoo Convention. All the featured drawings are recently created and presents the artist best and strongest effort in this genre


(the above image will be featured in the book, however this sample is a handheld photograph made by Kofuusenju Publications in the studio of Horiyoshi III. The prints in the upcoming book will be scanned proefessionally in Tokyo and of course be of supreme quality.)

Friday, 21 May 2010


They end their flight
one by one--
crows at dusk

Buson (1716-1783)

(photograph made by Matti Sedholm at Yanaka Cemetary, Tokyo, Japan)

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Studying Horiyoshi III is studying oneself, and studying oneself is confusion confused with making any kind of sense. So better bring a camera.



Everyone must find his or hers own path in order to succeed in making sense of the senselessness that is everyday life. In order to polish the mirror that is intended to clearly reflect your being, you must first even realize that there is a mirror beneath that heap of rubbish in the first place.

Undoubtfully, everyone has a pile of rubbish and a hidden mirror. Most of the time any individual merely pokes around in the top half, then spot somebody in the yard next to them, that has actually found at least a part of their dusty mirror. That person looks like they've actually found something of value, so pretty soon you think to yourself, that any shining object will do, just like the crows sometime do (but they don't have to look for anything, since they've never lost it. They just like "shiny"), and then you pile up shining junk, polishing the hell out of it and getting absolutely nowhere.

So, just like everything else is, Irezumi is your pile of rubbish and somewhere in there lies your mirror in wait for you. Just don't be fooled by wise men telling you this and that.
You can sleep easy tonight, knowing that there is no truth to be found.
At least not out there.


(photography made by Matti Sedholm at Horiyoshi III's Studio)

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Horiyoshi III, april 2010.


(photograph made by Matti Sedholm, Yokohama, Japan)

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Being watched while watching at Horiyoshi III's studio.



(photograph made by Matti Sedholm at Horiyoshi III's studio, Yokohama, Japan)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Irezumi and photography #3


In which way is this an image of Irezumi? Or is it not?

(photograph made by Matti Sedholm at Kenninji, Kyoto, Japan)

Friday, 14 May 2010

Black Crow at Yanaka Cemetary ,Tokyo


On a withered branch
a crow has settled...
autumn nightfall.


Basho (1644-1694)


(photograph by Matti Sedholm made in Tokyo, Japan)

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Irezumi and photography #2


Horiyoshi III at work in the Ise Cho studio in Yokohama, Japan.

(photograph by Matti Sedholm)

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Horiyoshi III exhibition of 2005 - the birth of Kofuu-Senju Publications.

This was the first time Alex Reinke (Kofuu) and Matti Sedholm (Senju) worked together on a project with a foundation in Irezumi and based on the tradition and work of Irezumi Master Horiyoshi III.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Irezumi and photography #1


Irezumi is incredibly impressive when first exposed to it in real life. Photographs cannot do it justice at all. Often it becomes a mere image for reference, void of spirit.
Because that is what one experiences in the precense of a person fully dressed in Irezumi, that insight that it really should be experienced moving, breathing, talking, doing other things than just posing formally before the camera. Another funny thing that happens when viewing a color photograph of a full piece of Irezumi, is that the black and grey background easily slips away, letting subject matter dominate and reign supreme. Japanese tattooing is based on traditional Japanese art, woodblock prints, handcarved Noh masks, paintings and other artifacts stretching mostly from the Edo period (1600-1868) and backwards, sometimes all the way into the mists of ancient China.

Japanese art often rest upon the use of ink and brush on paper. This is where it happens. The black and grey background so intimately associated with Irezumi traces its origins to Sumi-e (monochrome ink painting) and the neighbouring expressions, often buddhist ones.
When photographing Irezumi using black and white this background comes alive, embracing the subject matter in a different way. It begins to flow, curve and jump around. Most of the time, when viewing Irezumi, it is in fact the shaded background that carries the piece, but since most photographs published of traditional Japanese tattoos are in full color, the phenomena of background is rarely appreciated in full.

Kofuu-Senju use a lot of black and white photography when dealing with Irezumi, especially in the making of Kokoro, our new book on Horiyoshi III. This doesn't mean that we are strangers to the color photograph. Some of are scheduled and upcoming publications will be done in color.
It all depends upon the story you want to tell the reader/viewer. Are we talking about insides or outsides? Or both?

(photograph made by Matti Sedholm. From the grounds of Daitokuji Zen Temple Complex, Kyoto, Japan)

Monday, 10 May 2010

Brush and paper - foundation of Horiyoshi III's Irezumi tradition.


When sitting toghether with Horiyoshi III and watching him unfold the results of his increasing maturity and experience as a traditional Japanese artist, it's hard not to make comparisons to Hokusai (1760-1849). Both artists are moving through a rapidly changing urban enviroment, yet maintaining a strong tie to artsitic tradition and form.
Moderneties are strange to any person. It doesn't matter if it's the Edo period Japan or present day Yokohama. The coloring of the brocade ends up the same even though the look is slightly different. Kokoro remains Kokoro.

(photograph made by Alex Reinke in Yokohama, Japan.)

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The creation of "Kokoro"; a new book about Horiyoshi III of Yokohama #2


Alex Reinke at work in a chilly april Yokohama 2010.

(photograph made by Matti Sedholm in Yokohama, Japan)

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Chasing Crows, grasping Horiyoshi III and cathing a glimspe of Kokoro


Trying to grasp a phenomena like Horiyoshi III is a bit like chasing a crow.
Just as you think you will get close enough to that big black bird, it suddenly spreads it wings and move a bit further away. Still within reach but always unreachable.

In our upcoming book "Kokoro" we are in truth trying to catch a ghost that only shows itself when not watched, that only speaks when not listened to and and only exists when ignored.
Irezumi has indeed become one of the most influential inspirations for westerners charmed by the practice and wearing of tattoos. So what lies beneath the black and the gray? Beyond linework and shading?


Listen when the ghost whispers softly into your ear.


(photograph made by Matti Sedholm in Kyoto, Japan)

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

"Ryushin - chasing the dragons tail" by Horiyoshi III and Kofuu-Senju Publications.


"Ryushin - Chasing the dragons tail" is the first of two volumes of dragon related line drawings by master Horiyoshi III. In an unbelievable effort, Horiyoshi III created one of these drawings a day for over 400 consecutive days. This volume will carry 200 drawings and Kofuu-Senju Publications will make sure you will be able to enjoy these as soon as possible.
Like all our future books, it will meet our highest standards and will be presented to you in the best possible quality, just as its contents deserve. It will be a hard cover book, exquisitely clothbound and come in the size of 9.5in x13.5in / 34.5cm x 24cm. Printed in Sweden on specially selected paper by renown printers Fälth & Hässler.
It will be published around September 2010.

(the above image will be featured in the book, however this sample is a handheld photograph made by Kofuusenju Publications in the studio of Horiyoshi III. The prints in the upcoming book will be scanned proefessionally in Tokyo and of course be of supreme quality.)

Monday, 3 May 2010

Beginning of ends and end of beginnings.

Making books was never really a part of the plan for any of us.
We loved Irezumi. We loved Japanese culture, and even though we may have lacked a word like Kokoro (jap. Heart, spirit)in order to describe the abstract longing that possessed us during every creative moment, we were already full of emotion, poetry and a desire to grab a hold of "it".

We just didn't have clue what this "it" was. Maybe we still don't.

Looking back over the years we have known each other now, the interactions, the conversations and our personal ups, downs and almost any type of direction, it seems inevitable that we now find ourselves among all these photographs and words longing to become comprehensible, readable, parts of patterns.
Books were always a big part of the deal. Information was priceless and made gold look like dogshit. To have even the most fundamental chance to create something worthwhile, the word and the image just had to be conquered.

All through this pursuit, as we matured artistically as well as spiritually, we realized that so many books simply weren't being made. Nobody was making photographs and writing down the words to all the books that slipped everybody's minds.
Then, one perfectly ordinary day, everything aligned just right for us to see it, grab a hold of it and make it ours. To become the makers of these books. An idea so insane it made perfect sense.


(photograph by Matti Sedholm at Horiyoshi III's studio, Yokohama, Japan)