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Japanese tattoos, a complete guide and photos ⋆ Tattoomuse.it

Japanese tattoos are part of an ancient tradition, but still today fascinates millions of people... The popularity of Japanese tattoos is related to both their history and aesthetics and the meaning of typical objects of this style.

Since these are tattoos based on a long, ancient and proud tradition, it is important to know the meaning well tattoo you want to get and rely on an experienced and respectful tattoo artist.



What are Irezumi and Tebori

Stylistic features of Japanese tattoos

The meaning of Japanese tattoos



Geisha, samurai, masks and more

Neo-Japanese tattoo: what it is

History of Japanese tattoos

What could be more interesting than ancient art that has managed to survive for centuries?

La history of Japanese tattoos its roots go back to 5000 BC, when clay figurines with tattooed faces appeared.

However, in recent times, both in the East and in the West, tattoos have basically denoted two things: either assertions of a spiritual and cultural nature (fortitude, virtue, masculinity) or social status.

Ninth century writing actually reports that the Japanese used to punish criminals by tattooing them: Obviously, this negative use of tattoos has led to them taking on a negative connotation.

Much later, in 1700, tattoos acquired a decorative function, in particular Horibari Tattoos: signs of love or Buddhist prayers. However, only the upper castes could tattoo them, while the government banned the lower castes from any kind of decorative tattoos.

в Edo periodbetween 1600 and late 1800the beginning of the Japanese tattoo as we know it today... It was during this periodIredzumi.

Irezumi tattoos today

Although I Japanese tattoos are some of the most sought after in the world, in Japan they still have a negative connotation, mainly associated with the concept of crime.

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Unfortunately, the fact that I Irezumi's tattoos are associated with the yakuza, the well-known Japanese mafia, does not help clean up the imagery of Japanese tattoos in their country of origin.

What are Irezumi and Tebori

When it comes to Japanese tattoos, it is easy to come across terms like Iredzumi and Tebori... But what exactly do these terms mean?


By Irezumi (translated from Japanese for "black ink insert") we mean the Japanese tattoo style, characterized by bright colors, large shapes that often cover large parts of the body. Irezumi is a Japanese tattoo par excellence, and the canons of this style have remained largely unchanged thanks to the great masters who have passed on the art throughout history.


The term Tebori means the technique by which the traditional Irezumi tattoos are made. Instead of a machine, the artist uses one rod with needles at the end and by pressing with this tool manually, he creates a tattoo.

See also: Tebori Tattoo: An Ancient Traditional Japanese Technique

Thus, Irezumi points out style, and at Tebori we indicate technique.

Stylistic features of Japanese tattoos

Not everyone does Japanese tattoos. There are some stylistic features what you need to know to get a real Japanese tattoo.

<br>•  Line

Lines of traditional japanese tattoo they are black, large and clearly visible... Traditional Japanese tattoo artists used needles with more spaced tips than usual.

Many tattoo artists today use round shaders directly (instead of the more common Round Liner created to create lines) to achieve this effect.

<br>• Colors and shades

Colors of Japanese tattoos bright, full and uniform, without nuance and well-saturated.

One of the most prominent aspects of Japanese tattoos (which, however, should not be taken for granted) is contrast between solid, flat object colors and background shades.

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The meaning of Japanese tattoos

Japanese tattoos take on different meanings depending on the theme chosen (yes). There are many items that are typical of the Japanese tattoo tradition, but some are particularly popular and their meaning has been passed down from generation to generation.

Here are some of the most famous topics when it comes to Japanese tattoos and their meaning.

Japanese animal tattoos

There are several animals in the classic repertoire of Japanese tattoos: tiger, koi carp, snake.

<br>• Japanese tiger tattoos: The tiger is a sacred animal capable of protecting and warding off demons. A symbol of courage, long life, courage and strength, it is an item often chosen for such important places as the back or hips.


<br>•  Japanese koi carp tattoo: A true classic, the koi carp is an animal that often appears in myths and legends. Symbolizes determination, strength and courage.


<br>• Japanese snake tattoos: In Western culture, the snake has no positive connotation, it is actually associated with the concept of malice, deception and betrayal. However, in the Japanese tradition, the snake symbolizes wealth, rain, wisdom and cunning. It also has to do with the concept of change.


Japanese flower tattoos

Flowers are certainly not uncommon in Japanese tattoos. They, too, can have specific and different meanings, or they can act as filler and decoration in more complex designs.

<br>• Japanese lotus flower tattoo: perhaps it is an oriental flower in exceptional cases, a symbol of rebirth, peace and spirituality. The lotus flower in Japanese tattoos often accompanies koi carp.


<br>•  Japanese cherry blossom tattoos: these small delicate flowers symbolize the transience of life, but also the victory over adversity.


<br>•  Japanese peony tattoo: the feather symbolizes elegance, beauty and nobility and wealth of the soul. This beautiful flower is also often associated with love and honor.


<br>• Japanese chrysanthemum tattoos: the coat of arms of the imperial family, the chrysanthemum is a flower symbol of happiness, good fortune and long life.

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Geisha, samurai, masks and more

There are figures that belong primarily to the Japanese imagination and culture, such as geisha and samurai, typical Japanese theatrical masks, Nomakubi (severed head).

<br>• Japanese geisha tattoos: art, beauty, mystery, seduction. There is no better subject to illustrate these iconographic themes of Japanese femininity.


<br>•  Samurai tattoos: A symbol of strength, honor and courage, the Samurai is the main symbol of the Japanese warrior.

<br>• Japanese mask tattoos : the most famous and tattooed mask of the No theater (theater representing traditional Japanese legends) is Hannah's mask.

Presents jealous woman Who, seized with a thirst for revenge, becomes a demon... Depending on the color in which it is presented, it can mean resentment (red) or unsatisfied love (blue, blue, yellow, light colors).

<br>•  Phoenix Tattoos: Phoenix is ​​one of those legendary creatures that gained popularity due to its positive meaning of rebirth, tenacity and immortality.


<br>• Lion Dog Tattoos: The lion dog, also known as "Karasishi", is a very popular subject in traditional Japanese tattooing. It acts as a good luck charm and preys on evil spirits.

Neo-Japanese tattoo: what it is

The beauty of tattoo art is that no matter how tied to tradition, there are always artists who can innovate and create something new.

This is the case with Neo Japanese Tattoos, also known as the "School of San Francisco", a style that, while referring to certain aspects of the tradition (subjects, bold outlines, etc.) innovated Japanese tattooing, for example, the widespread use of shades and the addition of many details (see also New Traditional).