Japanese Skull Tattoos
Japanese tattoos have been around for hundreds of years and are very specific in style and color.
In the early 1600s, in the Japanese Edo period, a tattoo art style originated known as the ‘’Irezumi’’.
The Irezumi style of tattooing was an art form, often using a special ink called ‘’Nara Black’’, black ink that over time would turn blue-green, eventually gaining its intended, true color.
The Irezumi was a style that captured the spirit of mythical creatures or used symbolism to often use as a source of inspiration to accomplish one’s life goals.
It’s unclear as to which classes of historic Japan wore the traditional Japanese tattoos, whether it was worn by the lower castes or by Japanese royalty.
In later years, post World War 2, the Emporer of Japan banned tattoos entirely to purify the image of their Eastern Culture.
Wearing tattoos quickly moved from a sign of wealth and status to being seen as a criminal act, but the art form has not died out.
People search far and wide for Japanese tattoo artists who still practice this traditional tattoo style.
Japanese skull tattoos are among some of the most popular Japanese tattoo styles and are associated with various meanings.
Japanese Skull Tattoo Meanings
Japanese Tattoos are meant to convey someone’s pride in their ancestral heritage, their beliefs, and hopes in life.
Japanese Skull tattoos, specifically, take on even more meaning.
It identifies with life, death, and the change in your life that comes after experiencing the death of someone important to you.
Change is the overall concept of the Japanese skull tattoo.
The reason the imagery of the skull is used in conjunction with its symbology of change is because of how death is one of the most influential points of change in one’s life, an event with finality.
While skulls generally have a very dark and negative intention, in Japanese culture it’s meant to be seen in a more positive light.
It’s an acceptance of death and an understanding that life carries on, even if it may not be the same as before.
It’s a reminder to celebrate life while we have it and not to take it for granted.
The details that can be added to a Japanese-style tattoo are endless.
There are many elements that can be included which draw on Traditional Eastern Culture such as tiger tattoos, koi fish tattoos, Japanese dragon tattoos, and many more.
Below we’ve highlighted the themes which have proven to be most popular in the tattoo community.
Japanese Samurai Skull Tattoos
Samurai skull tattoos carry a different connotation as opposed to the wider-based Japanese skull tattoo, traditionally known as, “Zugaikotsu”.
It’s often combined with an eagle tattoo to symbolize victory after death, or a Samurai helmet tattoo to inspire fear and is a way to honor a fallen warrior.
Samurai may at times adorn themselves with this piece of ink as a way to remember a fellow warrior, not only to be reminded of their lives given in service to the natives of Japan but as a way to acknowledge the destination in store for all of us.
The traditional Nara Black ink is used synonymously with the Samurai skull tattoo for the deep blue-green hues that it evolves into as a way to portray the cold-gloomy realm of the afterlife.
The tattoo is also used as a way to commemorate the final victory of a Samurai, a victory over death an acknowledgment that even though a Samurai has passed, they shall always be remembered.
Japanese Skull and Snake Tattoos
When combined with a snake tattoo, a Japanese skull tattoo represents protection and good fortune.
In Japanese culture, a snake is often associated with regeneration, healing, and medicinal remedies as well, so it makes sense that it would embody the same when in the form of a tattoo.
It may seem to contradict one another to have a skull that represents death and a snake that represents regeneration, but it beautifully symbolizes the connection between not only life and death but also the change that is associated with death and an understanding that life will carry on.
Japanese Skull & Flower Tattoos
The Japanese skull tattoo is often used in conjunction with a myriad of flower tattoos, with each in the traditional art style and having a multitude of meanings.
The symbology of the rose tattoo has such a wide spectrum of interpretations, but the main concept carries across the color red.
The color red can indicate many things such as the blood of the Samurai that adorns it, or the blood of their enemies.
Red is possibly the king of colors when referencing the emotional range, combined with the symbology of the rose it represents an intense yet daunting aura, pure raw passion and flow of emotions, love, anger, intimacy, fear.
Japanese Skull Tattoo Designs
Japanese tattoos have strong cultural and traditional ties to them and come in a multitude of intricate designs.
Depending on what the tattoo will symbolize for you, there are several appealing designs that you choose from and when it comes to Japanese tattoos.
Color will always be best as you can play around with vivid, bold tones and pallets.
As you can see, the opportunities with Japanese tattoos are endless, and depending on the nature of your tattoo, there are fascinating details that you can include in your design such as Japanese floral tattoos, snakes, and representations of ancient Japanese traditions.