Get an amazing traditional Japanese tattoo based on classic woodblock art

J apanese woodblock artwork, called Ukiyo-E, represents a period of solitude, where the country was cut off from the rest of the world in a self-imposed isolation that lasted over 200 years. With very few external influences, an art form was created that was an entirely unique representation of the culture and traditions of Japan. This art was spread across the country thanks to the unique woodblock pressing technique that allowed for prints to be made of artwork. These prints have since inspired many art forms, including Japanese tattoos, that use the same influences and imagery. For someone looking for a traditional Japanese Tattoo in Sydney, these woodblock prints can be a great source of inspiration.

Tattoos of landscape images

The ‘In the Well of the Great Wave off Kanagawa’ is perhaps the most famous of the woodblock prints, created by Katsushika Hokusai. It represents the change in the Ukiyo-E style towards representing areas of life in Japan. The image of a massive wave about to engulf the painting shows a mixture of timeless beauty and darkness. Whilst the main focus of the prints were a series on Mount Fuji and the locations it can be viewed from, it also has a dark undertone. In the image are three sailboats, filled with horrified sailors who know that the impending wave will likely result in their doom. This style can be perfect to be represented in the traditional Japanese tattoo style. With the wash of strong lines and integration of colour within the black ink, you can get a fresh representation of any landscape you want to recreate on your skin.

Images of bijin

The Ukiyo-E style had a unique way of representing people, with features being exaggerated in order to highlight the characteristics of the individual. This can be seen in images of bijin (beautiful women) and how they are given a white complexion and quaint features to represent the desired looks of the time. A great example of this comes from Yoshikawa Kanpo’s ‘Maiko Admiring the Moon’. The soft features are amplified by the floral patterns of her obidome. The image is mainly blue in colour and works well as an inspiration for a mirrored artwork in a traditional Japanese tattoo style. The flowers especially represent a strong carry over into the Japanese tattoo style, making it a great point of reference for someone looking for a traditional Japanese tattoo of a person that they can add their own spin on.

The traditional Japanese representation of Kabuki actors

Perhaps the biggest overlap between Ukiyo-E and traditional Japanese tattoos is the use of theatre as an inspiration. One of the main examples is the overlapping use of kabuki actors. Kabuki actors were celebrities amongst the lower classes of the Japanese populace. These Kabuki would have characteristics that would be mirrored by the actors in make-up, dress and performance. One of the masters of representing this in artwork was Kunisada, whose woodblock pieces would exemplify both the tropes of the character and the actors who played them. His piece ‘Ichikawa Danjuro as Minamoto no Yoshitsune’ is a part of a series named ‘Kabuki Actors 108 Heroes of Suikoden’ that represent these characters and their defining characteristics. This Ukiyo-E is great for traditional Japanese tattoo styles as it shows the limited use of colour to create a background that highlights the Kabuki actor. Strong lines are used to create wave-like backgrounds while more detailed lines make the armour details stand out. If you are looking for a traditional Japanese tattoo character that has a wealth of traditional representation, a Kabuki picture will offer you that.

Sydney’s experts in traditional Japanese Tattoo

If you are interested in getting a traditional Japanese tattoo that is inspired by Ukiyo-E, you need a team of artists you can trust. At Lighthouse Tattoo, our team has many admirers of traditional Japanese tattoos and artwork. Our tattooists have years of experience in delivering fine artwork that represents these traditional characters in a modern and pleasing way. Not only can we help deliver a great tattoo, but the team at Lighthouse Tattoo can help design and develop your idea. We believe in a collaborative approach that allows you to present your idea and for us to represent it in the best possible way. For the best traditional Japanese style tattoo in Sydney contact Lighthouse Tattoo through our enquiry form here.

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