90 Awesome Japanese Tattoo Designs

In Japan, you can see two distinctive styles of tattoos, western and Japanese tattoos. A Japanese tattoo refers to Irezumi, its style is called wabori. A tattoo in western style is called youbori. Western tattoos are modern styles similar to those in Western countries to express symbolic meanings or for fashionable purposes. Japanese tattoo, on the other hand, has been practiced in the country for more than thousands of years. Its unique culture identity draws attentions from all over the world.

There are multiple Japanese words refer to the name of tattoo, Irezumi, horimono and shisei. Irezumi is the broad term for traditional Japanese tattoos without implication of tattooing technique. The word horimono is generally used by artists, especially those working with tebori methods of tattoo insertion. Shisei is a novel published by a Japanese novelist Junichirou Tanizaki in 1910. In the novel, a tattoo artist draws a silk spider tattoo on a beautiful young girl. As the novel became so popular that the novel name was also read as Irezumi.

The History of Japanese Tattoo

In ancient Japan, there was no tattoo tradition for mainland Japanese people except Ainu people. At that time, people with tattoo were regarded as aliens and very much discriminated.

Ainu people

In the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaid, an indigenous population Ainu people inherited tattooing tradition from their ancient ancestors. In Ainu culture, women have to go thought a heavy tattooing process on their lips and forearms. Notably, the mouth tattoo looked much like mustaches. But there is no evidence to indicate its linkage with or development of irezumi.

Edo period

It was not until Edo period (1603-1868) when the modern style of tattooing emerged in Japan. At that time, the term irebokuro was used as tattoo. Ire or ireru, means to insert, and bokuro or hokuro is a beauty spot. Despite avoidance by high-ranking courtesans for inelegance, irebokuro was accepted by yujos and geishas (women of pleasure). For some of them, the tattoo was a bond to beloved one or expression of eternal love. For others, it was a means to please clients.

According to Tamabayashi Haruo’s book Bunshin hyakushi, the custom of tattooing was also found among Samurai warriors in the 16th century. In certain areas, these warriors had tattoos for their identification.

It’s a painful process to get a traditional Japanese tattoo as irezumi is still done traditionally by hand rather than done by needle gun. And the Japanese style tattoos are often subjects covering large area of the body. It’s also a time-consuming process.

geisha-tattoo

Traditional Japanese tattoo ideas

Traditional irezumi tattoo ideas could be Japanese dragon tattoo, Japanese cherry blossom tattoo, Koi fish tattoo, etc. Each subject represents certain meaning which derived from Japanese traditional cultures. In this post, let’s enjoy the collection of awesome Japanese tattoo designs. Let us know you like.

Full back Japanese Tat for women

Full back Japanese Tat for women

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Black and grey half back tattoo with elements of snake, cloud and phoenix for man

Black and grey half back tattoo with elements of snake, cloud and phoenix for man

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Nature themed tattoo on back with dolphins, underwater sea world for women

Colored Japanese sleeve tattoo with dragon for men

Colored Japanese sleeve tattoo with dragon for men

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Kio fish in water full sleeve tattoo for men

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Realistic full back tattoo with pavilion, tiger and geisha for women

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Black and grey full back tattoo with women dragon and flowers

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Intricate leg tattoo with woman wave and dragon

Intricate leg tattoo with woman wave and dragon

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Geisha portrait tattoo on thigh

Geisha portrait

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Watercolor tattoo with geisha, crane and sun on the leg

Watercolor tattoo with geisha, crane and sun on the leg

Black and white geisha tattoo on forearm

Black and white geisha tattoo on forearm

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Japanese demon half sleeve tattoo

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Leg tattoo with Kio fish and cherry blossom

Leg tattoo with Kio fish and cherry blossom

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Realistic Japanese woman tattoo with shadow on forearm

Realistic Japanese woman tattoo with shadow on forearm

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Geisha tattoo on upper arm in watercolor style

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Japanese tattoo for man

Japanese thigh tattoo

3D Japanese tattoo

Japanese leg tattoo

Amazing full back japanese tattoo

Amazing japanese sleeve tattoo

Amazing Japanese tattoo

Amazing japanese tattoo

Beautifu japanese full sleeve tattoo

Beautifu japanese sleeve tattoo

Beautiful japanese tattoo

Full back japanese tattoo for man

Full back japanese tattoo

Full back tattoo

Full sleeve japanese tattoo

Geisha and flower sleeve tattoo

Half sleeve japanese tattoo

Japanese tattoo on leg

Japanese back tattoo

Japanese back tattoo

Japanese geisha tattoo full back

Japanese Demon tattoo

Japanese landscape tattoo

Listras

Japanese tattoo on back for woman

Japanese Phoenix Tattoo

Japanese dragon tattoo on foot

Japanese Phoenix Tattoo on back

Cherry blossom tree and lettering tattoo

Japanese tattoo on back

Japanese koi half sleeve tattoo

Japanese Tattoo

Roisi’s Tattoo

Japanese dragon tattoo by Mirek vel Stotker

Octopus tattoo by Mirek vel Stotker

Japanese Tattoo

Japanese Geisha Bird Backpiece

Tattoo by Daniel Innes – in progress

Japanese tattoo love the detail on the flowers

Japanese Warrior tattoo

Spring of kyoto

Simone Pfaff – Japanese Tattoo

Japanese Phoenix Tattoo on back

Japanese kabuki tattoo

Japanese kabuki tattoo on back

Japanese tattoo

Japanese tattoo

Japanese Crane Tattoo

Japanese tattoo on arm

Japanese dragon tattoo full arm

Japanese tattoo on arm

Japanese dragon tattoo on back

Japanese tattoo

Japanese tattoo

Japanese skull Tattoo

Japanese Tattoo

Phoenix tattoo

Japanese sleeve tattoo

Japanese tattoo on back for woman

Fullback japanese dragon

Best Cherry Blossom Tattoo

Cherry Blossom Branch

Cherry Blossom Branch

Japanese Tiger Tattoo on back

Japanese Koi fish tattoo

Playful geisha among lotus

Japanese tattoo full back

Colorful Japanese Tatto with geisha and phoenix

Colorful Japanese Tatto with geisha and phoenix

Skull and fish

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Fullback dragon tattoo for men

Fullback dragon tattoo for men

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