What do Japanese tattoos represent?

Understanding the Art – What Does a Japanese Tattoo Represent

While many people get a Japanese tattoo simply for the beautiful aesthetic and interesting
depictions of myth, some might be a little more hesitant to permanently decorate themselves in
cultural work they might not entirely understand.

To those who love the style, but want to know a little more about the topic, we want to help you
understand the art. So, today, we’re delving into Japanese tattoos and what they mean so that you
can understand the Japanese culture a little better before committing to art in their style.

A Brief History of Japanese Tattoos

At its conception, a traditional Japanese tattoo implemented on a person conveyed societal status or
even acted as spiritual symbols to ward off evils or bring about blessings. Much like modern religious
tattoos, there were strong beliefs regarding what the designs and symbols of traditional Japanese
tattoos meant – and many still hold said beliefs.

Years into the future, modern society has fallen in love with the beautiful, strong depictions from
Japanese styles. Today, many decorate themselves in the art regardless of their own culture or
‘societal status’.

Traditional Japanese Tattoo Design and Specific Meaning

There are a few common types of imagery associated with Japanese tattoos. Here are some of them
and what they mean:

 Koi Fish: Determination and Desire for Success.
These fish are often used to depict a struggle in one’s own life that you managed to
overcome and serve as a reminder of your perseverance which led to eventual success.
 Tiger: Strength and Courage.
The imagery of tigers not only depicts strength and courage – similar to the properties of the
animal itself – but also serves as wards against evil spirits, bad luck, and disease.
 Snake: Protection, Wisdom, and Good Luck.
Contrary to the West’s association with snakes, these slithering works of art act as
protection against illness, disaster, and misfortune, while also acting as a symbol of wisdom
against poor decisions.
 Oni Mask: Protectors, and Punishers of Evil.
For those who believe in the spiritual world, an Oni Mask is a symbol of protection against
that very world.
 Waves: Movement, Fluidity, and Life.
Waves depict the belief that life ebbs and flows, much like water, and that it adapts to being
strong and coursing when necessary, but that it also knows when to be gentle and calm.
 Fu-Dog: Protection and Good Luck.
Among the many different meanings for the Fu-Dog, or Guardian Lions, are the beliefs that
they symbolise prosperity and guardianship.
 Phoenix: Rebirth and Triumph.
Similar to the story of the Phoenix, tattoos of it depict rebirth from and triumph over

With so many Japanese tattoos to choose from and so many beautiful meanings attached to them,
you should always make sure you find the best Japanese tattoo artist in Sydney for the job. At
Lighthouse Tattoo, we have numerous artists capable of delivering exceptional results.

You can view their portfolios here, or give us a call and book your next session today.

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