The Essential Elements of Japanese Style Tattoos snake-japanese-tattoo2 Full view

The Essential Elements of Japanese Style Tattoos

Do you know that Japanese style tattoos have deep meanings? If you have seen Japanese tattoos, they are normally comprised of multiple and diverse images inked in vibrant colors. Each of these images contains different meanings. Since Japanese style tattoos have deep roots, it is essential to understand first the purpose and meaning of each tattoo before getting one.

These are some examples of popular Japanese style tattoos:

Japanese style dragon tattoo
•    Dragon. This animal is mostly viewed in the West as something destructive. It means strength and viciousness. On the other hand, Eastern culture especially Japan, has a positive view of dragon. It is a symbol of wisdom, generosity and chivalry. This is the reason why dragon is one of the most popular Japanese tattoo elements.

Koi Fish Tattoo
•    Koi. It seems like there is no Japanese tattoo which does not incorporate koi in it. Koi fish is commonly used in Japanese style tattoos because it symbolizes bravery and power. It also signifies willpower and strong determination to succeed.


Oni Tattoo by Tony
Tattoo by Tony, of Chronic Ink

•    Oni. This comes from Japanese folklore about demons. It started out as a belief that not all demons are purely evil. There are also oni or demons that penalize evil doings and act as protectors of the people. Nevertheless, oni generally symbolizes the idea of evil itself.

Wave Japanese tattoo style
•    Wave. Any great Japanese style tattoos have waves or water in it. Japan is known for having strong and destructive waves but despite that, they were still able to build and maintain a great country. This is the reason why wave designs are commonly seen in traditional Japanese tattoos. It typically signifies life and how free flowing it is. Wave is viewed in both positive and negative light, like how destructive and rapid it can be, but at the same time, it can also be calm and tender.

Snake Japanese style tattoo
•    Snake. This is one important element of Japanese tattoos. Snake tattoos represent a lot of things such as wisdom, rebirth, healing and good luck. Snake also means good health because Japanese view snake as protector of illness and calamity.

Skull Japanese style tattoo
•    Skull. This is commonly seen in other tattoos not only in Japanese. The difference lies on how Japanese view skulls. Instead of evil, death and danger, skull represents change and natural cycle of life.


Kanji japanese style tattoo
Tattoo by Joey Pang

•    Kanji. As one of the writing system, kanji heavily demonstrates culture and language of Japan. As a tattoo design, they are not only visually appealing, they appear mystical as well. If partnered with other elements of Japanese style tattoos, kanji will make a very elegant tattoo design.

*Note from Sick Tattoos – Unfortunately, we were not able to find the information on the artists who are responsible for some these tattoos. If you happen to know who did one of these pieces, please feel free to leave a comment and let us and the rest of the readers know!

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