Japan is known for its unique culture, and their tattoos are also one of a kind. Out here, tattoos are known as irezumi (insertion of ink under the skin) and horimono (carving). These have gained immense popularity in the U.S., and other western countries. Traditionally, the Japanese shoulder and chest tattoos were mostly admired by men. The most attractive features of traditional tattoos are its beauty, classic design, color combination, and rich symbolism.
Interesting Historical Facts
- The findings recovered from a tomb, that was built around 500 BCE, are indicative of the fact that tattoos were very much a part of the Japanese culture.
- Tattoos have been mentioned in the Japanese history but in a negative context. The first written record of tattoos was found in 297 CE.
- From 500 BCE or perhaps before that till the middle of the seventeenth century, tattoos were considered a symbol of barbarism and used for punishments.
- By the end of seventeenth century, tattoos had gained popularity but only amongst the criminals, and their application was considered as illegal.
- After World War II, General MacArthur liberalized the laws of Japan and tattoos were legalized. Several beautiful designs and ideas have evolved since then.
Different Types of Tattoos
Tattoos have been categorized as full, half, and quarter sleeve tattoos depending on its placement on the arm. Shichibu (7/10th part of the sleeve till the forearm is tattooed) and gobu (5/10th part of the sleeve till the elbow is tattooed) are the most preferred designs amongst the younger generation.
Koi Fish Tattoo
- This design is the most distinctive and has a deep symbolic meaning.
- Arms and upper back are the most preferred places for koi fish tattoo designs.
- These are popular amongst youngsters, because it symbolizes status, strength, and power.
- It is also a symbol of good luck in the Japanese mythology.
- Most of the religious places in Japan have a pond of koi fish at the entrance, because it is known to reflect peace and serenity.
Cherry Blossom Tattoo
- Cherry blossom is known to signify the Japanese psyche. These flowers blossom once in a year, and even the calendar in Japan is usually made in the beginning of the blooming season.
- These flowers even fascinated the ancient Japanese. The samurai had used its images in their art and poetry.
- They believed that life was short, and one should enjoy it to the fullest and with honor just like the cherry blossom flowers. Thus, this flower tattoo became a substantial part of full sleeve tattoo designs.
- A dragon tattoo is an extremely popular traditional tattoo design in Japan.
- Dragons have always been a part of art and folklores. This mystical beast carries a great symbolic meaning of good fortune, luck, power, strength, bonding, and ties.
- Tribal tattoo designs are considered bold and beautiful, and they look great on sleeves when made bold using dark lines.
- There are several tribal tattoo designs, like Hawaiian, Maori, African, and Polynesian, and these symbolize boldness and power.
The Japanese art has a huge stock of designs, but these are some of the most famous and rich in symbolic meaning. If you are looking for more interesting patterns, then you can combine several designs and even weave a story out of it.