History of Japanese tattoos dates back to the Paleolithic (Jomon period) – 10 000 years BC. Japanese tattoos like tattoos from biggest tribes had their own meaning. Between 300 year BC and 300 year A.D. tattoos were used as a symbol of social status and were used for decorational purposes. However, between the years 300 and 600 this style of tattooing has become synonymous of criminal activity and tattoos was used as a punishment.
Today, as a result of influences from the West, tattoos gained popularity among Japanese youth. However tattoos are still asociated negatively. Totally different than in the West, in Japan it is hard to find a tattoo artist. Tattoo studios are only avaible in areas where are tourists or on areas often visited by the U.S. military.
According to the President of the Japanese Institute of tattooing, Kunihiro Shimady, in Japan is only three hundred people who are making tattoos. People still shudder at the sight of tattoos, and even nowadays, the owners of hot springs or public baths, reluctant to allow people with tattoos use their services.
Japanese tattoo with dragon Meaning
The Japanese believe, that Asian dragons come from Japan and from there just spead to the rest of Asia. When they envolved, gained the more fingers. However, the beliefs of the Chinese people, and Koreans are against, they claim that dragons come from their countries and during the evolution they lost fingers.
The Dragon in Japan Culture (all Asian culture) – is a Symbol of rain and water. The Dragon symbolizes generosity, knowledge and power to be used for the good of humanity. These positive characteristics ensure the Dragon among the most popular designs Japanese tattoos.
Japanese Tattoo with Koi Fish Meaning
Another of the most popular themes of the Japanese tattoo is Koi Carp. This fish live in special breeding and come from China. In Eastern culture this symbol is related with characteristics such as strength and courage.
In China Koi carp often try to swim upstream, up the stream of the Yellow River, but only few are able to exceed a point called Dragon Gate. According to beliefs, those who success are transformed into dragons. For this reason, they may also symbolize tenacity, a strong desire to achieve something and change for better.
Japanese Tattoo with Phoenix Meaning
According to legend from all around the world, the Phoenix is a bird digested by fire, which after the death rises from the ashes. Stories about Phoenix were part of many cultures, including Greek and Roman mythology. The Phoenix symbolizes rebirth and winning.
Japanese Tattoo With Tiger Meaning
Another great tattoo symbol is the Tiger, which symbolizes courage and strength. It is said that the Tigers possess the wind. Often are selected as part of the theme of the tattoo, to protect against misfortunes, evil spirits and disease.
Japanese Tattoo With Lion Meaning
Tattoos with a lion (Fu-Dog), look like lions with pointy ears and resemble a little dogs. They also are used to protect and symbolize strength and courage. This tattoo symbol is a favorite to those people who appreciate the heroism.
Japanese Tattoo With Snake Meaning
Snakes have a wide range of symbolic meanings. It is believed to be the defenders, able to ward off tragedy, misfortune and illness. This symbol represent knowledge and also protection against the results of incorrect decisions. Snakes change skin every some time, this is associated with healing and regeneration (and also in Japan with healing rituals and medicines).
Japanese Tattoo With Skull Meaning
Completely opposite to Western culture, this symbol in Japan is very positive symbol of the natural circle of life. In general, skulls are associated with the change.
Japanese Tattoo with Flowers Meaning
Japanese flowers have many meanings and are highly valued theme in this country.
The lotus is a symbol of understanding, knowledge, enlightenment and life. Cherry blossoms don’t bloom for too long and are precipitated from the trees by even the smallest gust of wind. The Japanese see in them a reflection of their own mortality. Chrysanthemums are associated with the Empereror and symbolize perfection and sometimes even divinity, but also happiness and longevity. The rose represents the balance, infinite love and new beginning. Rose with stalk is associated opposite with the losing and lack of prudence. The Peony is known as the King of flowers and symbolizes the elegance and prosperity. Orchids represent courage, power and strength. Hibiscus has in Japanese culture, one simple meaning-gentleness.
Japanese Tattoo with Oni Mask
Oni mask is a very popular motive of tattooing in Japan. Symbolizes the faith in the world of spirits, in which demons may apply penalties to people who are bad and unfair. Oni are usually bad and angry, but there are also good demons symbolizing protection.