Traditional Japanese tattoos first appeared in 10,000 B.C.
These early tattoos were worn by women on their upper lips.
They were thought to protect women by chasing away diseases and demons.
Later on in history, these traditional tattoos showed people’s social status.
Tattoos have been used as protection symbols or status symbols that varied among tribes and individuals according to rank.
There are historical texts that say that tattoos were important to sixteenth century samurai as a form of identification.
They used tattoos as a way to identify soldiers on the battlefield.
During the Edo Period, criminals and slaves were branded with tattoos not only to identify them, but to punish them as well.
During this period, thieves, murderers, and anyone caught doing anything illegal would have to wear a tattoo that showed their criminal history as well as their social status.
For centuries after, up until World War II, tattoos were illegal in Japan.
They represented criminal activity, and they were worn by the Yakuza or underground mafia.
After World War II, tattoos became legal again.
Today, young people in Japan and also in the west, love traditional Japanese tattoos for their deep symbolism and meaning.
Even though tattoos in Japan are legal, the stigma has remained.
In Japan, it is respectful to cover your tattoos when in public.
Places such as the gym, public pools, and even saunas all require tattoos to be covered.
Japanese Tiger Tattoo Meanings
Tiger tattoos in Japan have deep meanings.
The tiger stands for courage, and long life.
It is thought to ward off evil spirits, diseases and bad luck.
In Japanese culture, tigers are an animal of their zodiac, and they are thought to control the wind.
They are considered sacred animals to the Japanese.
Main Themes in Japanese Tiger Tattoos
Though the tiger is more a Chinese symbol, it has come to have deep meanings for the Japanese as well.
Many people believe that they gain strength from their tattoos, which in turn, gives them bravery and confidence.
They are depicted as looking fierce, and this is a reflection of the tigers symbolism.
Tebori Tiger Tattoos
Tiger tattoos have been symbols of strong emotional meanings, and they have been immortalized in many different ways in Japan.
Some people get traditional tiger tattoos for symbolic reasons, respect for the creature, or personal style.
Tiger tattoos are a matter of personal preference, and not public opinion.
You do not need to get consent from anyone to get this tattoo, as they are a symbol of perspective and style.
In order to understand the concept of traditional Japanese tattooing, it is important to have a clear idea of three important rules.
- Rule 1: Japanese tattoos have to have unique and bright, clean colors that are rich in detail. They are usually very large, covering whole parts of the body such as the chest, back, or legs.
- Rule 2: The tattoo has to have themes or symbols that are traditional to japanese culture.
- Rule 3: This is perhaps the most important rule. The tattoo artist has to do the tattoo by hand. This is a technique called ‘Tebori’.
Japanese White Tiger Tattoos
White tiger tattoos are as popular now as they have always been.
They represent power and beauty.
They also symbolize the season of autumn.
These tattoos have universal meanings such as power and might, pride, passion and sensuality.
The white tiger is said to have the power known to ward off evil spirits and give good luck to those in need.
Black & Grey Japanese Tiger Tattoos
Arguably one of the most pleasing visual styles for tattooing, black and grey designs can be used to create eye-catching tattoos.
Some colorful Japanese tattoos utilize black and grey as a background or base for the tattoo piece.
This creates a tattoo that looks much more unique and suited to the owners skin.
Japanese Tiger and Koi Fish Tattoos
For as much symbolism there is surrounding the Japanese tiger tattoo, the Koi fish tattoo has just as much.
Koi fish are celebrated widely in Japan, particularly for their masculine qualities.
It is said that koi fish, who are brave in nature, are not unlike a warrior facing a sword.
In tattoo imagery, especially in combination with flowing water, it symbolizes courage, control, and the ability to achieve goals with an understanding of life’s trials.
Black koi fish are a common Yakuza tattoo that generally relates to good luck and fortune.
Red koi fish tattoo symbolize strong fraternal bonds, and blue koi fish tattoo symbolize reproduction.
When it comes to choosing a placement for your tattoo, it is important to allow an area that provides as much space as possible, as Japanese tattoos look best when a large amount of space is used.
This allows the artist to add the detailing necessary for the style.
For these reasons, people who chose Japanese tattoos, choose either their entire arm, leg, back, or with some people, even choosing a full body tattoo.
- Japanese Tiger Hand Tattoos
A tattoo on your hand doesn’t necessarily mean anything; it can just be a style choice.
However, the different hands can have significance, with the right associated with dominance, the sun, mercy, and logic, while the left symbolizes emotions, the moon, and justice.
Hand tattoos are considered rebellious as they are a tattoo that you wear out in the open and are not covered with your everyday clothing.
Though, on the downside, these tattoos get the most wear and they tend to fade rather quickly.
- Japanese Tiger Leg Tattoos
Legs are a popular place for tattoos, and they are becoming almost as popular as getting arm tattoos.
Legs are well padded with fat and have fewer nerve endings, which makes the leg tattoo process less painful.
They are a great tattoo for people who want to display beautiful artwork, but want to have it in a more inconspicuous place.
- Japanese Tiger Sleeve Tattoos
Sleeve tattoos are another great way to show off beautiful artwork, though they aren’t as easily concealed.
The entire arm is often chosen as a canvas for a Japanese tiger tattoo because of the larger area to add detail.
Sleeve tattoos are not as painful as tattoos in other sensitive areas.
- Japanese Tiger Back Tattoos
A Japanese back tattoo is imbibed with meaning.
Back tattoos are a way of showing spiritual devotion, delineating character traits acquired or aspired to, and honoring a long-standing tradition in a way that is bold, masculine, and strong.
They make a statement that will garner second looks, excite admiration, inspire the adventurous ink cognoscenti, and record a journey of personal growth.
Japanese Tiger Tattoo Ideas
The tiger is a popular tattoo for people in Japan, but there are several other designs that are popular in Japan, and they are used in conjunction with tiger tattoos to convey different meanings.
When it comes to selecting any tattoo the ideas and messages they represent are personal.
The tiger can symbolize many different things to each individual.
When it comes to designing a tattoo, it is important to think critically about the message you want to convey.
There are many other popular symbols that you can pair with the tiger to get a stunning and meaningful tattoo.
When the tiger tattoo is in an aggressive position and it is paired with a wave or a cherry blossom, it is not only a stunning visual for a tattoo, but it signifies that the wearer has a warrior mentality.
Dragon tattoos symbolize power, just like tiger tattoos, but a tiger paired with a Japanese dragon tattoo can symbolize a balance between two different personalities.
You can pair your tiger tattoo with other traditional Japanese symbols to create a tattoo that is meaningful to the wearer.
- Summing Up
When selecting permanent body art, you need to keep in mind, especially with a Japanese tattoo, that there are rules to getting them.
You need to know that good, proper work will cost you, and you need to be aware of the symbolism that comes with traditional Japanese tattoos.
If you are a person that travels to Japan now or in the future, there are also connections to tattoos and the Yakuza.
Many establishments require patrons to cover up their tattoos as well.
Japanese tiger tattoos are beautiful, symbolic, works of art that have deep meanings to the people that get them.
In terms of subject matter, Japanese tattoos are incredibly vast and varied in color and placement.
They are beautiful works or art that will last for a long time.