Asian mythology, folklore and religious beliefs are often inspirational for tattoos.
Take a look at the amount of people with Kanji, Yin-Yang symbols, or Guardian Lion tattoos.
It’s no surprise that Americans, and truly art lovers worldwide, have a fascination with Asian traditions.
These civilizations are so ancient; their art is steeped in meaning passed down through generations.
That can be a healthy dose of mystique for anyone who comes across it for the first time.
Within these cultures, myth and folklore are often a part of everyday life and practice, so even the most pragmatic person will observe mystical traditions.
With all this in mind, it’s easy to see why Asian art has been an inspiration for artists and human canvases around the world.
Kirin – An Asian, Unicorn like Creature.
One of the most interesting, but less talked about, Asian characters is the Kirin.
Though it is often associated with Japan, Kirin also appears in Chinese, Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Korean folklore.
Many people will refer to the Kirin as “The Japanese Unicorn” because of its physical traits, but to call it Japanese Unicorn is to deny the Kirin its own background and unique set of entrancing qualities.
It is the Kirin’s nature that makes people interested in getting Kirin tattoos, not it’s similarities to a Unicorn.
What Does the Kirin Look Like?
The Unicorn comparisons come from the fact that Kirin has a single horn in the middle of its forehead.
Though it has been portrayed differently throughout the years, it typically has the body of a deer with the scales of a dragon.
With the tail of an ox and long flowing hair, the Kirin gallops gracefully in a dream like cloud of holy fire.
It is said that the Kirin’s “true” form is actually a mystery, it can appear in different ways.
It is associated with the phoenix and is sometimes portrayed with feathers.
Many of the mythological beasts that inspire tattoos are somewhat frightening, often symbolizing a fierce and protective nature.
Conversely, the Kirin shows its power through the serene feeling it creates.
The Kirin is not weak, far from it.
It has a gentle divinity in its strength.
Some consider the Kirin to be a god.
What Do Kirin Tattoos Symbolize?
Kirin tattoos can mean different things to different people.
The Kirin tends to appear in folklore when a new leader is appointed, especially a good and peaceful leader.
The Kirin tends to be spotted during peaceful times, so it is an especially auspicious symbol if you are worried about an upcoming transition.
Someone may get a Kirin tattoo if they are looking to make a positive lifestyle change.
The Kirin never eats the flesh of an animal.
Though diets of mythological beasts are not often discussed, this is an important aspect of the Kirin’s nature.
The Kirin will never harm another living thing, so Kirin tattoos can be a popular choice for vegetarians and vegans.
The Kirin are said to have a special relationship with the earth at large, not just other animals.
Some say the Kirin refuses to walk on grass, choosing instead to glide among the clouds.
Others say the Kirin will walk on grass, but it has such a gentle way of walking, it barely leaves an impression on the blades.
You may also see Kirin tattoos on environmentalists, or those looking to overcome past issues with violence.
Overall, the Kirin and Kirin tattoos represent peace, kindness and serenity.
Common Themes in Kirin Tattoos
Like most Japanese imagery, many people choose the Kirin for a larger piece.
You will see the Kirin appear mainly on back pieces or sleeves, rarely in a small tattoo.
Typically, the Kirin is surrounded by its sacred fire and striking a dynamic pose.
As for coloration, the Kirin’s ability to shape shift makes it fairly customizable.
You will mainly see the Kirin in bright, striking colors.
Red or Cyan tend to be popular choices when it comes to the Kirin, but as it has been portrayed so many ways, you can collaborate with your artist on the Kirin that’s right for you.
The Kirin in Pop Culture
Like the Unicorn in America and the United Kingdom, Kirin is a popular image in Eastern countries.
Kirin lager has been made by the Kirin brewery in Japan since 1888.
The company now has breweries worldwide, and the Kirin remains one of the leading beers in Japan.
My Little Pony
In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Kirin is introduced as another type of pony.
When angered, they become fiery beasts.
Not exactly the Kirin we know and love, but definitely drawn from the same well!
The Kirin play an important role in the Twelve Kingdoms anime series, created by Fuyumi Ono.
In this series, the Kirin choose the next King or Queen, then become their counselor.
This is pretty loyal to their original legend.
Kirin Tattoo Ideas
The Kirin tattoo is a beautiful image for a peace loving person.
Could that be you?
Take a look through our favorite Kirin tattoos to get some inspiration!
To read more about Japanese style tattoos, go to:
- Japanese Masks Tattoos
- Yokai Tattoos
- Kendo Tattoo
- Daikijin Tattoo
- Kokeshi Doll Tattoo
- Maneki Neko Tattoo
- Fujin Tattoos
- Severed Head Tattoos
- Kabuto Tattoos
- Ebisu Tattoos
- Karura and Garuda Tattoos
- Nue Tattoos
- Fudo Myoo Tattoos
- Heikegani Tattoos
- Japanese Snake Tattoos
- Raijin Tattoos
- Japanese Tattoos
- Foo Dog Tattoos