Founded in 2009 by Alex Reinke, also known as Horikitsune, in Yokohama, Japan, Kōsei Publications LTD is known for an output of incredibly high quality books dedicated to Japanese aesthetics. Alex explains, “The focus of the company is to publish everything related to Japanese traditional tattooing and culture, including Western artists that have dedicated their lives to this art.” This includes tattooers like Ivan Szazi, whose work can be seen in the feature image above.
Blending tattooing with paintings, scrolls, antiques, and more, Alex Reinke is dedicated to using Kōsei Publications as a way to preserve and promote the fine art of Japan. Alex shared part of the reasoning behind this, “Books play a major role in the art of Horimono, the traditional Japanese tattoo and tattooing in general. Having a vast library for inspiration and study purposes is key to be part of the elite in this business.”
Alex started tattooing in 1995 and, having apprenticed under Japanese tattoo master Horiyoshi III, he’s the perfect person to undertake the creations of Kōsei. In fact, when Horiyoshi III decided to publish his artwork, Alex was put at the helm of the project. “It was clear from the get go that Kōsei Publications LTD wasn't going to be a cheap production line of paper products sold for a lot of money, but the creation of legendary books, of highest quality and useful content, portrayed in a way that reflects the hard work and dedication of the artists featured.”
There have been a couple of iterations of the publishing house, but since 2015 Alex Reinke has had complete creative freedom and management, moving the base to London. And although the UK is now home to Kōsei Publications LTD, Alex’s devotion to Japanese aesthetics never falters, nor does his love of paper ephemera. “The Japanese have managed to perfect close to everything they create artistically, including the art of book making. Whoever has gone book hunting in the famous used book shop street in Tokyo’s Kanda dori knows what I am talking about. The magic and thrill to find that rare gem needed to be on top of things in the world of Japanese traditional tattooing. The smell of antique paper in these shops and the excitement of finding what I was looking for will stay with me forever, as well as the high price tags. It was all worth it.”
Taking his knowledge and adoration for books into his publishing house, Alex mirrors the high standards of Japanese art making within every production. Due to his experiences with masters of Irezumi, the privilege of browsing through extensive libraries of intricately made books, and hunting for treasures in Tokyo’s antique districts, Alex explains that “the process, the layout and the design of each book have been particularly planned out to meet certain criteria that match Japanese standards of beauty, quality and design. For example, the books are all the same size: the measurements are taken from the traditional Japanese woodblock prints called Oban size.” Not only the size, but the cloth and hard covers of the books, the ink used, and the photography, much of which is done by Alex himself, is all particularly and perfectly curated.
Each tome that Alex Reinke creates is eagerly awaited. “The next book will showcase Kevin Pages’ unbelievable collection of Meiji period artifacts in the heart of London City. It will be an incredibly large volume of photos of these extremely inspiring Japanese antiques.” From ancient hand carved wooden deities to contemporary scrolls painted by Japanese tattoo masters, Kōsei Publications is the epitome of depth, innovation, and beauty within our industry.
Tattooers can receive special discounts on books Ivan and Leo Barada by visiting our Pro Perks page.