Many tattoo designs and ideas draw inspiration from Japan like koi tattoos, cherry blossoms, Japanese dragons, and of course Japanese characters or lettering, called Kanji. Japanese art makes great tattoo designs as there is a very specific style of art in which people and animals are portrayed. Japanese tattoos like, Geisha tattoos, ninja and samurai tattoos can have a very specific style of facial features as well as coloring. The same goes for animals like Japanese foxes or tigers, which are usually drawn differently in Japan than they are in the west.
Of course one doesn’t need full body horimono or irezumi tattoo to have it be considered Japanese. Koi fish are a common Japanese symbol even though the mythology behind them originates in China and they often represent strength and originality. Sakura, or cherry blossoms, are another common Japanese symbol meaning good fortune, love and change. Lotus flowers and peonies are also common symbols in Japanese art that represents life, beauty and elegance.
Japanese characters and lettering tattoos are probably the most popular style of Japanese tattoos. They are popular and attractive due to their beauty and detail. Rather than spelling out a word with many English letters people like to use a single kanji symbol to represent a thought or idea.
In Japan tattoos have a long history relating to spirituality and status going back to ancient times in Japan. However in the Edo period tattoos, known as Bokukei became symbols of punishment. Irezumi tattoos that cover most of the body are performed by specialists and can take years to finish. Full body tattoos became known as symbols of the Yakuza, or Japanese mafia. Today however tattooing is gaining popularity again, much like it is in the West.
Check out our Japanese Tattoo Gallery for the best Japanese tattoos.
If you have a cool Japanese tattoo that you want to show off, submit it!