Top 10 Awesome Japanese Tattoos Designs & Meaning
Japanese tattoos are unique in the context that each and every tattoo in this culture has a meaning to depict, which makes these as popular outside the country as they are within it.
Japanese tattoos are one of the most popular styles in tattoo art, but were you aware that every image used in Japanese tattoos has a meaning and purpose? This is one of the reasons that the Japanese tattooing tradition has persisted for so long and has appealed to so many outside of Japanese culture. If you’re thinking about getting a Japanese tattoo, then we recommend reading this guide to get acquainted with the meaning of traditional Japanese tattoos and their meaning. There’s a lot to learn and if you’re going to put something on your body that lasts forever, you should at least understand its meaning.
The Meaning of Japanese Tattoos:
There are a number of images and symbols used in the Japanese style of tattooing to convey specific meanings. These images are used to convey a person’s beliefs, aspirations, or character traits. Called “motifs”, these design elements are intended to have the same meaning wherever they are used so that meaning is not unique to the individual.
Japanese Dragon Tattoo
Japan has an affinity to dragons which is obvious. However the Japanese dragons are not everything about strength, ferocity or the enormous wealth. These are the qualities connected to the dragon by the western world. In East, Dragons are more about understanding, power and a humane outlook for individuals in need. They have superhuman powers and are viewed as protectors. Japanese dragon tattoos are creative and every color reveals a various facet of the dragons and by extension your character. They look spectacular on every level.
Japanese waterwaves are very popular as the element water in itself is a deeply metaphorical one. The ebbing and changing water shows life has to be adaptable. The stormy wave shows the strength and the calmness shows beauty and patience. Water is again popular for many other elements of the Japanese culture and the meanings can be many. Like the Koi or lotus or Oni or dragons. They all complement each other giving the tattoo a very deep and diverse meaning.
Fu Dog (Karashishi)
The Fu Dog is also known as the “Lion of Buddha”. It’s an accurate representation as the character is in fact a lion symbolizing protection and courage, rather than that of a dog. There are many names for this character such as: Fu Dog, Foo Dog, Fu Lion, Foo Lion, Lion Dog, Karashishi and Shi-Shi Dog.
Koi Fishes Tattoo
Japanese tattoos of koi fish are another of the most popular tattoo designs in Traditional Japanese tattoo art. Koi are a specially bred type of carp, a fish native to China, where the Koi actually originates. Koi are given masculine qualities in traditional Eastern folklore such as strength and bravery. The Koi in China were known to attempt to swim upstream in the Yellow River, but very few could swim past a point known as “Dragon’s Gate”. Koi who did were said to be rewarded by turning into dragons. For this reason, Koi also symbolize determination and a strong desire to succeed and become “something more”.
The Snake is another supernatural depiction that is said to represent a wide range of beliefs including protection against illness, disaster, and bad fortune.
Any Asian would easily connect to this flower for Lotus has been one of the most loved and artistically respected flowers. In Japanese culture Lotus shows knowledge, pride, beauty and respect. It symbolizes life and the circle of if going from the muddy water to the gorgeous blossom. Many a times flower is seen together with water in the tattoo like a stormy sea image of with a fish. This shows how Lotus stabilizes and interfaces with different culture in Japan.
The Kiku has a deep history tracing back to the seal of the Emperor himself. The flower is portrayed as a symbol of perfection – usually depicted with petals radiating like flames from the sun, the centre representing the Emperor’s status in the social climate.
The Oni is often depicted as a malevolent horned character. Fearsome and supernatural, they are said to represent a belief in the spirit world in which Oni carry out the role of punishing the unjust and evil. Oni, are often confused with the popular Hannya Mask which a traditional Japanese prop used by actors of Noh theatre in the 14th century.
Skulls were seen as negative tattoo for they are associated with death, danger or evil eye. It had a reputation of being an omen of the evil but if seen deeply, skulls have gotten the attribute of being an ambassador for change. It shows death which is the ultimate change. Skulls in Japan shows reality of life. It has connotation of dearth but is understood to be a symbol of respect for the forefathers and an acceptance of the ultimate realty of life.
A final tattoo idea for your next Japanese design, is the Sayagata Pattern. While not a true character, the pattern works beautiful as filler in Japanese tattoos – it’s comprised of left- and right-facing swastikas joined by lines.