Japanese symbol tattoos and their meanings

Even if you are not of Japanese origin, you may like Japanese symbol tattoos because of the beauty of their characters. But it is necessary that if you want to get a tattoo of Japanese letters, first you know well what it means so that later, you do not regret your tattoo to discover that perhaps the meaning does not correspond to what you really think.

The Most Popular Japanese Symbol Tattoos

Japanese tattoo themes are as rich and varied as the culture and tradition of the country. The backgrounds are very important, and even crucial to the design and follow very strict rules for the placement of the backgrounds. Winds, waves and clouds are often tattooed as backgrounds. For example, a very important rule is not to place the Buddha figure below the waist as this is very disrespectful. Flowers and animals combined must follow a particular design, Koi carp swimming against the current, combine well with moose or chrysanthemums, because it is vegetation that is associated with autumn in real life.

  • Japanese style tigers: tigers and lion-dogs are the representation of courage and protection. Lion-dogs are very common creatures in China and Japan and it is common to see their statues at the entrances of shrines, a person wearing this design is ready to protect their dignity, their property and their rights, many cultures think that this animal keeps evil away and protects people from evil spirits. On the other hand, tiger tattoo is preferable on people who wish to flaunt their individual strengths, a lone tiger can represent that fight for a cause or different battles of life individually.

  • Japanese trees and flowers: are excellent choices to represent strength and power, combined with qualities of the heart. The tree designs are flexible, as it allows to place objects and words in their intermingled branches, the colors and shapes give us many possibilities to choose the design. Flowers represent the wearer's beliefs, aspirations and character, usually reflecting the bright and positive side of life.

  • Skulls or skulls Japanese style: represent death and danger in many cultures, but in Japanese culture they symbolize the fact of appreciating life and its cycle or the concept of Yin and Yang, a skull tattoo will remind us of the value of life, the aspiration to have a full life and the acceptance of the inevitability of death. They can also represent loved ones who have passed away.

  • Japanese Dragons: Dragons have not only been a source of admiration in the East in the past, but they are also a source of admiration today. Hollywood movies or series like Game of Thrones are a worldwide success where dragon characters are the protagonists and end up being more popular than the actors themselves, dragons convey an image of strength and ferocity that humans aspire to possess. They are winged creatures that can fly and spit fire, and dragons have often appeared as protectors of humans.

  • Koi fish: this fish, originally from Japan, is one of the most popular icons in Japanese culture, its main characteristic is that it is able to go against the current of the Yellow River. The stories of the myths tell that the Koi fish that is able to go up the entire Yellow River, will be transformed into a dragon, this is a reward for having successfully completed the challenge. Putting mythology aside, we can point out that the difficulties encountered by the Koi fish serve as an inspiration and a lesson for people who suffer adversity in their lives. A person who has managed to overcome an illness such as cancer, for example, could get a tattoo of a Koi fish.

  • Water and waves: Water and waves are a familiar element to the Japanese, since they live on an island and its inhabitants have always depended on water for subsistence and food. Water has a positive connotation because it represents life, but waves have a slightly more negative one, because they are a sign of danger, a tattoo with water and waves, represent in most or all cultures, life and death. It depicts the constant truth that life changes like the waves of the sea, 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.

  • Japanese style snakes: snakes have long been associated with negative things, numerous stories show them as evil, as a negative symbol, so much so that the graphic image of the snake has a strong visual impact that gives chills to anyone who dares to look at them more closely. On the other hand, the snake, in certain cultures are considered as a symbol of luck and protection against bad luck, snakes regularly shed their old skin to acquire a new one which makes them also represent wisdom and the ability to change for the better.

  • Japanese style phoenix: like dragons, they are mythical creatures that provoke an unprecedented fascination in humans, the phoenix is a normal bird that burns and is reborn with much more power from its ashes, this type of transformation is very motivating for humans. It is a perfect design for those triumphant and proud people that will help them constantly remind them of their resilience in the face of adversity.

Meanings of Japanese Symbol Tattoos

It is impossible not to recognize a Japanese tattoo, their large and unique designs are a unique signature of the oriental model. The whole body or large body areas are perfect for these works of art, the rich and intricate details are impossible to achieve in a small tattoo. Moreover, during all this time Japanese tattoos have kept their authenticity and original style, which is why they have caused so much enthusiasm among those more conservative people who like the old and what does not change too much over time. Dragons, exotic animals such as snakes and tigers, Koi carp and birds are the most common and popular base designs. The flowers, which are repetitively placed and crisscrossed, are usually cherry blossoms, lotus blossoms or chrysanthemums. Folklore and literature also have their own style in Japanese body art and characters such as Buddha, Suidoken characters (Samurai, criminals and Geisha), Buddhist gods such as Fudo Myo-o and Kannon and Shinto kami deities such as Tengu bring a wealth of history and particular meanings to the design.

Japanese Symbol Tattoos on Body Parts

Depending on the size you want your Japanese symbol tattoo, you can have it on different parts of the body. The area where the highest number of Japanese letter tattoos are concentrated is the back, arm or neck.

Japanese Symbol Tattoos on the Back

Mostly found on the spine, they can go from the nape of the neck to the lower back or only on the upper part of the back.

Japanese Symbol Tattoos on the Arm

The forearm and wrist is where the tattoos of this type are captured, sometimes just a character, as that can already be a word, and other times, a few forming sentences.

Japanese Symbol Tattoos on the Neck

Both the back of the neck and the sides of the neck, especially behind the ear, are easy areas to cover and where you can capture both phrases and words in large or small size.

Bibliography consulted

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