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Japanese Tattoo Meaning & Ideas

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Japanese Tattoos Have Many Deep Traditional Cultural Meanings

Tattooing has been popular in Japan for thousands of years. This art form has its stable role in Japanese culture as a form of expression of multiple symbolisms. Samurai warriors are known to have had various tattoos to express courage, honor and pride.

The traditional way of tattooing has several rules and designs. The rules are not exactly set, because every community has its own customs. Most popular of these traditional designs are such mythical creatures as dragons or phoenixes, very common are also floral motifs and leaves, fish – especially koi, Samurai tattoos or masks. These are often found combined into one design, for example, flower tattoos that symbolize spring or summer warmth are often combined with the animals of spring or dragons. These designs are often born out of smaller and simpler images. A single cherry blossom tattoo can be developed into a complicated motif that can spread onto a whole arm or on the back.
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Every tattoo has a specific meaning in Japan:

Cherry blossoms represent vitality – life. Sakrua, or blossoms of the cherry tree, are very beautiful and fragile, yet they bloom in very harsh conditions. These flowers only last several days and this is very symbolic in Japanese culture. They believe that we should seize the day and enjoy our life to the fullest. Being aware of the inevitable death should only make us enjoy life more.


Some Cherry Blossom Examples

cherry blossom tatto cherry blossom tato cherry blossom tattoo

Koi tattoos are symbolic of courage, perseverance and strength. These fish are believed to change into dragons once they get across a difficult passage, the Dragons Gate, in their travel against the stream. Dragons are often combined with phoenixes in order to represent the balance of powers in the universe or the Yin and Yang. Koi fish are mostly colorful and they have a special place in the culture of Japan. Their inspiring struggle transforms into symbolism of luck, power, ambition and courage that is often also displayed in temples.

Koi Tattoo Ideas

koi tattoo ideas koi tatoo idea  koi tatoo idea   

  

Many people associate Japan with the dragon design. Dragons have their stable place in Japanese culture and that is also why there are so many meanings that this creature represents. For some it is courage, strength or powers even of the supernatural kind, for others it is wisdom or freedom. This tattoo is very variable and can easily be fitted to anyone’s personality or preferences. The color of the dragon also has a meaning and it can be quite specific so be careful when picking the final design.

Dragon Tattoo Ideas

japanese dragon tattoo idea japenese dragon tattoo idea japanese dragon tattoo meaning
Hannya masks originate from kabuki plays. These demonic masks first appeared in a famous Japanese kabuki play that depicted a woman who was consumed with anger over her partner. The Japanese believe that this tattoo can bring luck and ward of demonic powers.

japanese Hannya masks Hannya red devil mask Hannya devil mask


Popularity of kanji tattoos has spread all around the world. The Japanese language is made up of three scripts and kanji are actually Chinese characters that were introduced into the language in around 500 A.D. These ideograms (which means that each sign has its own meaning) represent concepts like love, happiness, sadness, wealth, beauty or loyalty. Different kanji characters can be combined to build up expressions and display more messages at once. The combinations are innumerable as there are several thousands of these characters. Be careful when going for this design and find a tattoo artist that can understand the meanings and build up the messages you desire properly.

Some Kanji Symbols

Japanese Kanji Symbols for white, marriage, silver, gold, middle and summer Japanese Kanji Symbols fake, real, hate, strong, sun and moon Japanese Kanji Symbols for thief, smattily, wild, god, belief and middle Japanese Kanji Symbols for giant and king

There are many different types and styles of Japanese tattoos all with some type of meaning whether it is symbolic or based on historical lore and beliefs.

Various Types of Tattoos


samurai warrior with fighting stick japanese snake tattoo

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