101 Best Japanese Tattoo Ideas You Have To See To Believe!

by Jamie Wilson
Japanese Tattoo Ideas

Reviewed & updated: December 1, 2022 by Jamie Wilson BA

Searching for tattoo designs enriched with Japanese culture? No worries! Check out this list of traditional Japanese Tattoos to intensify your tattoo love!

Japanese Tattoo
@timelessinktony via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

Japanese tattoos are considered one of the most popular and distinguishable tattoo designs since time immemorial.

The Japanese tattooing tradition came into existence almost a millennium ago. Now, with the advent of the 21st Century, it delves deep into a plethora of mysteries and mystique that are still put many of us in awe.

In the world of tattoos, Japanese tattoo artists have kept the legacy of traditional Japanese tattooing by keeping the designs that glorify Japanese society and culture. From Kappa tattoos to Yakuza tattoos, Oni Mask tattoos to Foo Dog tattoos, Cherry Blossoms to Koi Fish, there are innumerable ideas upon which a tattoo artist can work upon. Other than that, there are certain Japanese mythical creatures that add to the list of Japanese tattoo art as well!

Japanese tattoos have a very distinctive and beautiful factor, which makes a traditional Japanese tattoo one of the most popular tattoos on the list! A Japanese style tattoo inculcates a distinct art form that tends to depict some significant parts of Japanese culture. In a tattoo shop, the tattoo Japanese people prefers ink that is mostly related to any of the mythical creatures which have a presence in traditional Japanese folklore.

During the middle ages, figures were imprinted by a traditional tattooing process known as woodblock prints. During that era, Japanese artists were inserting ink using metal needles and silk thread. Woodblock printing was also done using Nara ink as well. Thus, you can try out these amazing Japanese tattoo ideas to show your love and respect for the supremacy of Japanese traditions.

Japanese people have a tendency to derive inspiration from many elements which play a major role in our day-to-day lives, may it be a physical necessity, mental necessity, visual necessity or spiritual necessity. This includes elements from Japanese tradition like a dragon, snake, bird, tiger, koi fish, sakura, wave, cloud, samurai, pagoda, and many more. These are some of the many elements which increase the level of versatility of Japanese tattoo designs. Since the choices and preferences differ from person to person and a Japanese tattoo design possesses a lot of diversity, these tattoo designs can be used as a large tattoo, small tattoo, full-body tattoo, simple tattoo, monochromatic tattoo, colourful tattoo, traditional tattoo or tribal tattoo.

So if you’re in search of a Japanese sleeve tattoo, back tattoo, forearm tattoo, chest tattoo, leg sleeve tattoo, hand tattoo, or shoulder tattoo, you will find some amazing tattoo designs that will fulfil your expectations. Hence, without any further ado, check out this curated list of one of the best Japanese tattoos to explore the best from the rest!

Japanese Koi Fish Tattoos

Japanese Koi Fish Tattoos
@h.blackburnt via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

Enhance your beauty and enigma by inking this Japanese style tattoo on your body. In Asian culture, Koi Fish gets a lot of value and respect because of its symbolism. Since it is known to signify masculinity, such tattoos can also be considered traditional Japanese tattoos for men. Every tattoo artist wants to create something unique in terms of tattoo designs. These traditional Japanese tattoos are one of a kind because of the intricate details that you can observe. The showstopper of this traditional Japanese tattoo is the lotus. Since lotus symbolises enlightenment, purity and reincarnation, this koi fish tattoo creates a beautiful amalgamation of boldness and subtleness.

Although there is a stigma among Japanese people that Japanese tattoos are directly associated with criminal or antisocial activities, but by the passage of time, people are changing their stereotypical thoughts. These Japanese traditional tattoos can also be inked as full-body tattoo designs because of the vastness of the overall tattoo design.

Koi Colored Tattoo
@calvotattoo via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

Another koi fish tattoo in the list, this Japanese style tattoo design also represents the glorious Japanese tradition. But then, this is a vibrant tattoo with lots of bright colours. These colours elevate the whole vibe and mood of these traditional Irezumi tattoos. Moreover, these red and blue koi fish adds a beautiful contrast to this Japanese tattoo design. Hence, these Japanese tattoo designs can also be inked as body art tattoos.

Japanese Flower Tattoo Designs

Japanese Flower Tattoo Designs
@julian.bogdan.noir.corpus via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

Uplift your style statement by applying these beautiful Irezumi Japanese tattoos anywhere on your body! Flower tattoos in Japan depict the top-notch custom of primitive Asian art. Moreover, Japanese flower tattoos give you a chance to ink your own set of Japanese tattoo designs by a diverse variety of flower art forms available. These Japanese tattoo designs encapsulate the vibrancy of the overall design in an aesthetic approach.

Since flowers symbolise hope and good luck, inking this super amazing tattoo will help you boost a lot of self-confidence! Moreover, the red colour of the flowers adds an element of confidence and charisma into the personality of the person. Hence, these traditional Japanese tattoos can be considered some of the best Japanese tattoos because of their colourful as well as elegant design.

Surreal Japanese Tiger Tattoo Designs

Surreal Japanese Tiger Tattoo Designs
@emanuelesircanatattoo via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

If you want to ink some of the best Japanese tattoos on the list, you can go for a Japanese tiger tattoo without any second thoughts. In Japanese traditions, Tigers signify valour, longevity, power and wisdom. Although they seem intimidating, tigers imbibe an innate ability to remove evil spirits and other negative energies and bring positivity and prosperity.

This surreal Irezumi Japanese tattoo has two entities, tiger and eagle. Since eagles too symbolise the power and wrath of mother nature, this Japanese tattoo also represents the amalgamation of both ideas. Few of the techniques that can be easily used to create the overall framework can range from simple sketchy outlines to animated depictions. In general, Japanese tiger tattoos are quite famous around the world.

Japanese Cherry Blossom Tattoo Designs

Japanese Cherry Blossom Tattoo Designs
@tiggytattoos via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

Embrace the aesthetic traditions of Japan by inking the Japanese Sakura Tattoo. Sakura is the Japanese word that translates into Cherry Blossoms. This Japanese tattoo has a beautiful amalgamation of few elements like Dragon and Sakura. since the sakura flowers are amidst the dragons, it enhances the quality and vividity of these Japanese tattoo designs. This tattoo will suit perfectly those who live for the sole purpose of doing something impactful in life, on a positive side. It is because of what sakura signifies. In tattoo shops in Japan, you will find many suitable traditional Japanese tattoo options that will make you feel more interested and curious to try it out.

Japanese Back Flower Tattoo
@japanese.ink via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

These back piece sakura tattoo designs have a very simple sketchy framework. This Japanese traditional tattoo defines simplicity to its level best. This set of Irezumi Japanese tattoos look extremely artistic since there is a lot of space within each of the flowers. In other words, the density of the objects is very less. These Japanese tattoos also have the ability to eradicate evil spirits or negativity since these elements are the epitome of positivity. This tattoo idea can also be implemented as a leg sleeve tattoo as well as a Japanese tattoo sleeve idea.

Traditional Japanese Snake Tattoos

Traditional Japanese Snake Tattoos
@emanuelesircanatattoo via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

Become inevitable and powerful from within by inking these creepy and intimidating Japanese snake tattoos. Since snakes are cunning and agile, men can derive a lot of inspiration from this tattoo design. This design has a very yellowish hue which makes the colour very much attractive. The Japanese word for snake is Hebi. Hebi can possess many symbolic connotations. From being a sexual symbol to being an element of protection, this has a lot of significance.

Although in Christian cultures, serpents are considered evil. But in Japanese traditions, there is no such depiction of snakes. A Japanese serpent tattoo is also associated with immortality or reincarnation due to the regenerating capability of a reptile. This kind of Japanese snake tattoo will suit the most if you ink it above the wrist area, bicep area, or as a leg sleeve tattoo.

Japanese Wave Tattoo Designs

Japanese Wave Tattoo Designs
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This wave tattoo has some of the most pleasing factors to encapsulate your soul. It is because the wave tattoos have a very interesting design to portray your dedication towards earthly elements. Since water is considered a significant symbol in Japanese traditions, these tattoos will be loved by many people. Such tattoos are often blended with animal motifs like Koi, oni, or dragons or represent the ever-changing nature of life. 

Since seas are very turbulent in Japan, the turbulent seas inspired this tattoo design. As water signifies the wrath of nature, this tattoo suits perfectly those who believes in firm determination for completing any work. These wave tattoos are some of the best Irezumi tattoo ideas to be taken into consideration. These tattoos have a lot of fluidity and smoothness to the overall design making these tattoos a sleeky one.

Japanese Dragon Tattoo Designs

Japanese Dragon Tattoo Designs
@emanuelesircanatattoo via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

Experience the best of Japanese mythology and folklore by inking this Japanese Dragon Tattoo on your body. These Japanese tattoos are made with some of the best quality inks. This Japanese Dragon tattoo will suit best for those who possess lots of valour and power, both physically and mentally, as because it signifies power, strength and masculinity. For others, the dragon tattoos depict longevity, good luck and great wisdom. But then, there are others who think that dragons represent longevity.

Japanese Mask Tattoo Designs

Japanese Mask Tattoo Designs
@myrhwan via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

If you love unusual designs with crazier amalgamations, this tattoo is the go-to option. These dual characters make this tattoo very intriguing. This unique design changes the overall Japanese tattoo meanings. These masks have a very intimidating appearance which creates a sense of creepiness. But keeping the creepiness factors aside, this tattoo provides a very beautiful message to the people who will view this tattoo. This tattoo can be applied as a chest tattoo, leg tattoo, shoulder tattoo, bicep and tricep tattoo.

Full Body Yakuza Tattoo Designs

Full Body Yakuza Tattoo Designs
@schlicker.ink via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

To unleash your insane and daredevil self from yourself, you can ink this full-body Yakuza tattoo. Yakuza is a Japanese mafia. With some of the more famous characters in the tattoo, this tattoo has a lot of intricate details which you can easily observe. To understand the beauty and aesthetics behind this tattoo, you need to delve deep into the patterns of the design. From ducks to elephants, it has all! It is very evident that this complex idea will indeed attract a lot of tattoo aficionados who aspire to ink some awesome tattoos anywhere on their bodies.

Fu Dog Japanese Demon Tattoo Designs

Fu Dog Japanese Demon Tattoo Designs
@jakoh_kurikaratattoo via Instagram – Love this design? Try a Temporary Tattoo

Walk into the path of righteousness by inking this prestigious Foo or Fu Dog tattoo. A Foo Dog is considered an important mythical character in Buddhism. Their existence on Earth dates back to lots of millenniums. You can clearly see the wavy as well as smoky look to the whole of this Demon Foo Dog tattoo design. This tattoo design is extremely subtle and aesthetic in terms of colour because of the perfect amalgamation of colours. Thus, this tattoo is perfect for those who intend to try out something unique.

Japanese Phoenix Tattoo

japanese phoenix tattoo

If you ink any Japanese tattoos, it will give you an unparalleled feeling of respect and pride for Japanese culture as a whole. In Japan, there was a custom for getting tattooed for more than a millennium. Choose the ideal Japanese tattoo that will befit your expectations. Some of the best Japanese tattoos which deserves a special mention are:

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What is a Japanese tattoo?

Japanese tattoos are a type of tattooing that originated in Japan. Japanese tattoos are done by hand using a traditional technique called tebori. Tattoos in Japan have a long history, dating back to the Jomon period (c. 14,000-300 BCE), and Japanese tattooing was introduced to the West in the late 19th century by Western sailors who visited Japan.

Japanese tattoos are characterized by their unique style and their intricate designs. Japanese tattoo artists often incorporate traditional Japanese motifs into their designs, such as samurai warriors, cherry blossoms, dragons, and koi fish.

Japanese tattoos are also said to have a spiritual meaning, and many people believe that they can protect the wearer from evil spirits.

How much does a Japanese tattoo cost?

The cost of a Japanese tattoo depends on the size and complexity of the design, as well as the artist’s skill and reputation. Japanese tattoos can range in price from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

What are some popular Japanese tattoo designs?

Some popular Japanese tattoo designs include cherry blossoms, dragons, koi fish, samurai warriors, and geishas.

What is the difference between a Japanese tattoo and an American tattoo?

The main difference between a Japanese tattoo and an American tattoo is the style. Japanese tattoos are typically done in a more traditional, hand-poked style called tebori, while American tattoos are done with electric needles.

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