There are countless places to draw inspiration from for your very first tattoo.
As media and pop culture grow more and more embedded into our daily lives, many people will choose to pay homage to their favorite characters from movies, television, and movies.
Sometimes it feels like in order to stand out, a person needs to reach into the past.
Raijin is a god in the Japanese Shinto religion and mythology.
With his frightening exterior and supernatural ability to control the elements, Raijin fits right in with many modern superheroes that inspire tattoo art today.
Who is Raijin?
Japan is home to many religions and traditions, Shintoism being one of them. Shinto is “as old as Japan itself” and even predates Buddhism (depending who you ask).
Though the Shinto religion may not be practiced exactly as it was in ancient times, it remains tied for second with Buddhism as the most common religious belief structure in Japan.
Many of the traditions practiced in daily life in Japan stem from Shintoism, even for those who do not actively practice it.
As part of Shintoism, devotees honor gods called “Kami.”
These gods take the form of rocks, trees, water, animals, and other natural elements.
These Kami gods all serve different purposes in everyday life, and it is important that a person lives harmoniously with them.
A community’s relationship with their Kami could affect crops, fertility, health, and their romantic lives.
Many Japanese gods make for popular tattoo designs due to their striking colors, rich historical background, and the deeper symbolism behind them.
Raijin is a mischievous god, and some regard him more as an “Oni”- or demon in the Shinto practice.
Oni are meant to cause destruction, and it’s easy to see why some Japanese people would view Raijin this way.
He is the god of thunder, and Japan has some pretty intense storms that can be very dangerous.
Raijin is feared by children in Japan, who are told to cover their navels during a storm.
Apparently, this mischievous and possibly demonic god loves to snack on children’s belly buttons!
Some people choose to incorporate their navel into their Raijin tattoo design to pay homage to this idea.
Raijin translates to “thunder god,” and he is often depicted with his brother Fujin – the god of wind.
Legend has it that sometimes the two gods argue over who is the true god of the sky, and fierce storms are a result of those disagreements.
There are many statues throughout Japan that depict the two brothers, and people will sometimes hold rituals to appease them.
They are a particularly important pair to farmers, who must work harmoniously with the weather for ideal results.
Some say land that has been touched by lightening is the most fertile, so there are times of year when farmers may try to attract Raijin.
Raijin tattoo designs are quite popular as a result of the widespread popularity of his image- usually a red demon with yellow horns, a drum in his hands, and blue accents.
The Raijin and Fujin pair are often modernized and depicted in Japanese cartoons and comic books.
What does a Raijin Tattoo Mean?
A Raijin tattoo may symbolize protection; a lot of people feel more powerful knowing they have a thunderous god on their side.
It can also be a wish or gratitude for having your needs met, due to Raijin’s effect on crops and therefore food supply.
Someone may also choose a Raijin tattoo as a way of acknowledging an ongoing struggle or strife they’ve experienced, as symbolized by Raijin’s continual fight for dominance with Fujin.
Are Raijin Tattoos Popular?
Traditional Japanese tattoos are still revered by tattoo artists today, and some ancient traditions never go out of style.
Because there are many people who still practice Shintoism, and many more who are simply fascinated with Japanese culture – Raijin tattoo designs aren’t expected to die out anytime soon.
Raijin in Pop Culture
On Season 12 of Ink Master, Laura Marie Wachholder won the title of Ink Master along with $100,000 for her beautiful 35 hour tattoo design.
The tattoo design featured none other than Raijin in his red glory, gliding on grey clouds.
The piece was stunning, a beautiful tribute to the art of Japanese tattooing, and will no doubt have a few people wondering if a Raijin tattoo is right for them!
Should I get a Raijin Tattoo?
Well, it’s really up to you at the end of the day. Does Shintoism have a particularly important significance for you, or do you just think Raijin looks cool?
That may be an important question to ask yourself if you haven’t already thought about it.
There are thunder gods in other cultures and traditions.
You may consider something closer to home- perhaps Zeus the Greek god, Thor the Norse god, Lei Gong the Chinese god, or Indra the Hindu god.
These deities all rule over thunder.
Regardless of your own cultural background, you may have a deep and personal connection to the Raijin tattoo design.
If you feel good about it, and have respect for its origins, you should get the tattoo from an experienced artist and wear it proudly.
Raijin Tattoo Ideas
Raijin, with his bright colors and intimidating look, makes a wonderful companion for someone with a lively personality who wants a bold dynamic piece.
Not sure if this is you? Check out our gallery for some thunderous inspiration.