There has been a phenomenal growth of traditional Japanese tattoo designs in the past few years. It used to be that tattoos were relegated to the Yakuza or Japanese gangs and the criminals in the society. Just the site of a tattoo used to and still can strike fear into people. However, Japan is a rapidly changing country and they are starting to see the value in tattoos and more and more people have a deep respect for them. For most tattoo artists and tattoo enthusiasts alike Japanese designs have always been sought after. Here are some Japanese tattoo meanings and design ideas to help give you a guide of some possibilities if you are interested in getting such a design.
For the Japanese the cherry blossom is seen to represent life itself. The flower is a thing of great beauty. It is strong in that is pushes itself and blooms in harsh conditions and climates and often comes out when the snow is first melting. Yet it is paradoxically fragile at the same time. It is fragile because it will only last a few days and then it will fall from the tree and land in the snow. The Japanese view this as a representation of life itself. Life should be lived to extreme beauty and everyday should be lived to it’s fullest. Yet one must always be aware of the possibility of death and therefore with the eventuality of death live life even more fully. This is a great tattoo and a symbol that is laden with powerful reminders and a great guide to how each individual should live their life.
Koi fish are probably the second most powerful symbol in tattoo designs in general but also fro the Japanese. Koi fish can been seen in front of almost every temple throughout Japan. The myth states that the Koi fish swim back up stream against the current to eventually read a bridge or a gate. If they can make it to the gate they are turned into dragons and magically fly away to start a new life. The symbolism behind this design is one of perseverance which is a very deep and important concept for the Japanese. In fact they have many more words to describe perseverance, effort and sticking with something in the language then we do in English.
Hannya masks are scary looking and demonic masks. The mask comes from the famous Kabuki plays in Japan and it depicts a women who has been consumed with rage over a lover or someone that has not returned her love. There are different variations as each Kabuki play has a different interpretation. At any rate these masks represent a jealous women. However, they have been widely used in Japanese tattoos and also here in the west. When they are used in tattoo in it is believed that they will ward of evil spirits and bring good luck to the person wearing it. Japanese will also sometimes but these up for display high in the room of their house to ward off evil spirits.