The Japanese tattoo style has gained more and more influence these days, although its long and glorious history dates back many centuries ago. Japanese tattoo artists began practicing their art as early as Yayoi period (from about -300 before J-C to 300 after J-C). At that time, Japanese tattoos were a symbol of spirituality and social status that differentiated the master from the slave. However, during the Kofun period (from 300 to 600 AD) things changed and tattoos began to have negative connotations because they were used to mark criminals. It was an indigenous population of Japan, the Ainu, who lived in Japan for thousands of years and usually wore designs on their arms, mouth and sometimes even on the forehead, that first influenced the Japanese activity of tattoos. This is the reason why they integrated into modern Japanese civilization.
The traditional tattoo images from these past generations are “images of the floating world” (called ukiyo-e in Japanese). These are reproductions of wood prints created by most influential ukiyo-e artists like Kuniyoshi, who is also the creator of Suikoden masterpieces of illustrations. This illustrated story represents 108 corrupt Chinese whose skin has been marked. Different gangs used different design patterns and applications. Despite this rich tattoo tradition, today the Japanese do not openly accept the idea of having permanent designs on their bodies as the inhabitants of the Western world, because tattoos are intrinsically linked to the Yakuza (the mafia Japanese). The social stigma of the association between criminals and body art prevents those who wear them from entering certain fitness centers or baths.
Meaning of Japanese tattoos
It is impossible not to recognize a Japanese tattoo. His large unique designs are an unmistakable signature of the oriental model. The rich intricate details and texture of this type of tattoo is impossible to place in a small work. Full limbs or even an entire body are the appropriate backdrops for placing these masterpieces. During their long years of existence, Japanese tattoos have preserved their dignity, authenticity and original style, which have caused the enthusiasm of all tattoo lovers, even in the modern art world.
The rich, intriguing and powerful images characterize the designs of traditional Japanese tattoos. Dragons from a mysterious mythology, exotic animals such as snakes and tigers, Kooi carp and birds are common and extremely popular basic designs. The flowers, which are drawn using a repetitive method that makes them intersect, are often flowers of cherry or lotus, or chrysanthemums. Folklore and literature have their own entries in Japanese body art and introduce people like Buddha, Suidoken characters (Samurai, criminals and Geishas), Buddhist gods like Fudo Myo-o and Kannon and Shinto kami deities like Tengu, bringing a historical richness and particular meanings to the drawing.
Types of Japanese Tattoos
The subjects of Japanese tattoos are as rich and varied as the country’s ancient culture and tradition. The funds are important and even crucial for drawing and follow very strict investment rules. Winds, waves and clouds appear like textiles in the background, to have a complete and almost 2D rendering exclusively. Placing the Buddha figure under the belt is disrespectful, so you must respect the correct location. Flowers and animals combined must follow a particular pattern. Kooi carp swimming against the tide go well with maple trees or chrysanthemums, because these plants are associated with autumn in real life.
1. Japanese-inspired dragon tattoos
Dragons have not only been a source of curiosity and admiration in the East in the past but they remain so until today and have reached the imagery of the Western world. Hollywood movies like “Games of Thrones” are worldwide successes where dragon characters steal the limelight and almost outdo the actors in popularity. Dragons convey an image of strength and ferocity that humans aspire to have. These creatures have wings to fly and can spit fire. In addition, dragons symbolize beneficial forces always ready to protect humans. The popularity of dragons in Japanese mythology spread to the West and spread around the world.
2. Japanese-inspired tiger tattoos
Tigers, lions or lion dogs represent courage and protection. Lion dogs are very common creatures in China and Japan and their statues are very common in the entrances to shrines. A person wearing this design is ready to protect their dignity, property and rights. Many cultures believe that this animal keeps evil at bay and protects people from evil spirits. The tiger tattoo alone is particularly suitable for individuals who want to flaunt their individual strengths. A lone tiger can represent fighting for a cause or for different life battles individually.
3. Japanese-inspired snake tattoos
Snakes have long been associated with many negative things. Many stories show it in a bad light, making it a negative symbol, despite the fact that the graphic image of the snake has a strong visual impact that gives chills to anyone who dares to look at it more closely. The snake has medical value in real life and some cultures see it as a symbol of luck and protection against bad luck. Snakes also represent wisdom and the ability to change for the better. Snakes regularly lose their old skin to acquire a new one.
4. Japanese-inspired phoenix tattoos
Phoenixes, like dragons, are mythical creatures that cause unparalleled fascination for humans. Unlike the mighty dragon, the phoenix is initially an ordinary bird that ignites and is reborn much more powerful from its ashes. This type of dramatic ascent is very inspiring and motivating for humans. A triumphant and proud person will be more than happy to wear a phoenix tattoo, if it can serve as a constant reminder of their ability to resist adversity.
5. Japanese-inspired water and wave tattoos
Water and waves are familiar to the Japanese, as their country is an island and people have mainly depended on the benefits of water for subsistence and food. Water has a positive connotation because it represents life, but waves have a more negative one, because they are a sign of danger. A water and wave tattoo therefore generally represents, in most cultures if not all, life and death. He portrays this constant truth: life changes like the waves of the sea and it affects everyone. Optimists, on the other hand, see this symbol as a reminder that in life we must remain calm in the face of danger and adversity.
6. Japanese-inspired Kooi fish tattoos
The Kooi fish is one of the most popular icons in Japanese tattoos, the main reason for this being that this fish is native to Japan. The characteristic of this carp is that it goes up the current of the Yellow River. The stories in the myths tell that any Kooi carp capable of going up the entire Yellow River turns into a dragon. This is his reward for successfully taking up the challenge. Mythology aside, the difficulties encountered by the Kooi fish serve as inspiration and lesson to people who are in extreme conditions of adversity. A person who has overcome a disease like cancer deserves a Kooi fish tattoo.
7. Japanese-inspired tree and flower tattoos
Trees are great options for representing strength and power combined with qualities of heart. The design of the tree is flexible in the placement of objects on its intertwined branches. The colors and shapes leave many possibilities of choice of design.
Flowers, on the other hand, represent the wearer’s beliefs, aspirations and character. They usually reflect a bright and positive side of life. It would be incongruous to use flowers to represent an aggressive character.
8. Japanese-inspired skull tattoos
Skulls represent death and danger in many cultures but, at the level of Japanese bodily works, they symbolize the fact of appreciating life and its cycle or the concept of yin and yang. A skull tattoo will always remind the wearer and the viewer of the value of life, the aspiration for full life and the acceptance of the inevitability of death. Skulls can also represent loved ones who have died.
Ideal placement of Japanese tattoos
The peculiarities and size of tattoos generally determine the placement of Japanese designs. Individuals who cannot afford very visible areas such as the nape of the neck and forearms are a problem for tattoo artists. The larger and more complicated designs are reserved for the back and upper body.
Japanese tattoos are rich in subjects whose placement can be resolved by adapting the desired subjects to the size of the body part concerned.
Preparation tips before the tattoo session
Make sure you are in good health, without even a slight fever or cold, before going to the tattoo studio. Eat a good meal to prepare for a grueling tattoo session. Bring your favorite distractions to pass the time during the long procedure. Books and gadgets (mp3, tablet) are ideal and their size is adequate.
Estimated production costs and standard prices of Japanese tattoos
You could say that Japanese works are much more expressive than other tattoos. One can also think that tattoo artists of this type of art have perfected their talent and their discipline with masters in the field. The truth is that tattoo artists of this genre are also subject to the standard prices of this discipline – € 150 to € 200 per hour of work, depending on the location and € 50 minimum for a small simple tattoo.
Japanese tattoo care tips
People generally don’t realize the disastrous impact of the sun on their tattoos. This not only discolors the ink but can also irritate the skin. So protect your Japanese drawings as much as possible from the sun’s rays.
The best solution is to avoid it as much as possible and stay in the shade; wearing protective clothing is also helpful. Applying good quality sunscreens with a high index when exposed to direct sunlight is not only a healthy practice but is also beneficial for your tattoo. You will enjoy your magnificent body work longer without having to touch it up if you take good care of it.