As he still needed to learn a professional way of tattooing, Takei began his official apprenticeship under Benjamin Moss and Gilbert “Jumping Eagle” at Apocalypse Tattoo in 2000. Upon completing his apprenticeship, Takei stayed at Apocalypse Tattoo as a resident artist until 2007..
After travelling the world, working as a guest artist and attending multiple tattoo conventions, Takei set out for Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where he became a resident artist at Schiffmacher & Veldhoen Tattooing. Working under a world famous tattoo artist/historian Henk Schiffmacher, he fine tuned his skills and established himself as an international tattoo artist.
In 2009, Takei served as an advisor to the Sieboldhuis Museum in the city of Leiden, the Netherlands, for its “Japan Tattoo Exhibition” curated by Prof. Willem R. van Gulik.
When Henk Schiffmacher opened the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum in 2010 Takei became one of the resident artists at the Tattican, the tattoo studio located in the museum itself. The museum, displaying one of the largest collections of tattoo related artifacts owned by a single person, aimed to serve as a cultural centre for both tattoo artists and the public to see and experience the elaborate worldwide history of the art of tattooing first hand. Takei worked out of a special room designed to resemble a traditional Japanese tattoo studio.
In 2010 and 2011, Takei went back to Japan to study the art of traditional Japanese tattooing. Under a tattoo family in tokyo, Takei learned “tebori”, the traditional Japanese style of tattooing by hand.
In tebori technique, a array of needles is attached to a specially curved stick made of wood or metal, in Takei’s case, bamboo. These are then dippped in ink and manually inserted into the skin. With this style Takei creates soft yet strong shades of black and dynamic as well as vibrant colors in his tattoos.
As of 2012, Yushi Takei declared himself as “Shodai Horikichi” , his traditional tattoo artist’s name. “Hori” translates to “to carve” or “to tattoo” and “Kichi” translates to “good fortune”. The kanji character that makes up “kichi” is also the first character that makes up Take’i mother’s maiden name. The prefix “Shodai” indicates he is the first in the line carrying the name of “Horikichi”.
In the same year, Horikichi published his first book "Garyou Tensei: 108 Japanese Sleeve Designs" with KIT Publishers. The title of the book refers to the final dot of ink that, according to Japanese traditional beliefs, brings life to a drawn or carved piece of art. In a dragon design, for instance, this would be the pupil of the eye. The book contains a series of 108 hand-painted traditional Japanese "Kaina" or half sleeve tattoo designs applied to the upper left and right arms.
Horikichi’s style is greatly influenced by Japanese culture and tradition. Its designs include dragons, tigers, koi carps, flowers and a multitude of mythological creatures and characters such as tattooed warriors and women that are completed with meticulous kimono patterns.
After the closure of the Amsterdam Tattoo Museum in 2012, Horikichi set out to travel once again. He currently resides in the port city of Rotterdam, The Netherlands since 2014.
In 2015, Shodai Horikichi published his second book “Horihide: celebrating the life work of Kazuo Oguri” with KIT Publishers. Kazuo Oguri, who is mostly known as Gifu Horihide, is an old traditional Japanese tattoo master who introduced Western tattooing to Japan and Japanese traditional designs to the West in 1960-70s. Horihide was also known for his world wide network of tattoo friends such as legendary artist Sailor Jerry Collins.
Traditional Japanese tattoos have become globally appreciated as a pinnacle of the tattoo art due to artists like Shodai Horikichi. His love for Japanese culture and tradition is clearly shown in his work and ethics. He is always striving for progression yet seeking enjoyment in doing so.
Horikichi has worked in many well known tattoo shops around the world. He has also attended some of the most prestigious conventions such as Le Mondial du Tatouage in Paris, the London Tattoo Convention and King of Tattoo in Tokyo.
Today, Shodai Horikichi can be found in the tattoo shops in Rotterdam, Antwerp, Amsterdam, and tattoo conventions around the world.