Samurai Tattoo

An Illustrated Guide To Samurai Tattoo Meanings

A tattoo symbolizing dignity in combat

Samurai Tattoo Meaning 

Samurai are universally revered, and having a tattoo of one is not something you should take lightly!

The Samurai were a noble class in Japan that were known for their resistance to pain, skill with swords, and unflinching loyalty.

Popular in Japanese culture today, many people from all over the world show their affinity for Japanese style through Samurai tattoos.

Here are some of the most common meanings of Samurai tattoos: 

  • Courage

The Samurai were fierce warriors that were known for the ability to face the battlefield with confidence.

Samurai tattoos symbolize this courage in a way that shows your own ability to face life with boldness and persevere through difficulties.

This strong need for justice prevailing against all odds can be presented by a Samurai tattoo. 

  • Honor

One of the main words associated with Samurai is honor because of the code of conduct their lives were surrounded by.

If you are someone who lives by a code and feels an obligation to others with a sense of dignity, then a Samurai tattoo may just be the special tattoo that will prove that to yourself and to the world. 

  • Self-Discipline

If you are someone who is strict with your diet and exercise and lives each day by self-guided rules, then a Samurai tattoo is a great way to reward your self-discipline.

The Samurai could withstand enormous amounts of pain and considered themselves able warriors.

You may not be a warrior, but if you consider yourself a person who can endure feats of strength, this tattoo could represent your passion for discipline in your life. 

What does a Ronin tattoo mean?  

A Ronin is a masterless samurai, and its literal meaning is wandering person.

These samurai walked off on their own and were a sort of lone wolves.

A Ronin tattoo tends to refer to the lone wolf attitude.

If you have a Ronin tattoo it means that you are independent and prefer to do things on your own, without a master. 

What’s the difference between a Ronin tattoo and a Samurai tattoo? 

A Ronin tattoo is completely different from a Samurai because the Ronin were without a master and were rogue men fighting their own battles.

The Samurai were respected parts of the nobility filled with loyalty and prestige. 

Samurai Tattoo Designs 

Samurai tattoos come in many different designs and can have added meaning when other symbols are present in the tattoo.

Here are some of the most popular designs of Samurai tattoos: 

Dragon and Samurai Tattoo 

This tattoo design symbolizes the strength and courage of a true warrior.

The dragon tattoo symbolizes the protection of family and the courage to defend those who you love.

This, combined with the true courage of the Samurai, makes for a powerful tattoo. 

Hannya Mask and Samurai Tattoo 

A Hannya mask tattoo represents a jealous woman who turns into a demon, and when this imagery is added to that of the Samurai, the tattoo transforms.

In this tattoo, the Samurai wears the Hannya mask, meaning you are facing many troublesome battles and are very literally fighting your innermost demons. 

Tiger and Samurai Tattoo 

This tattoo typically either transforms the Samurai into a tiger or shows a Samurai fighting a tiger.

Samurai Tiger Tattoo

Tiger tattoos symbolize strength and fierceness, just as a Samuari tattoo does.

The two together make for one intense tattoo filled with the characteristics of a fighter. 

Samurai Skull Tattoo 

A Samurai skull tattoo suggests that struggling and fighting your way through life is the only way because all paths lead to an end.

Samurai Skull Tattoo

This philosophy is key because it can inspire people to keep toughing it out through bad situations. 

Samurai Helmet Tattoo  

A Samurai helmet tattoo often shows the samurai as a demon with a large helmet and protective gear.

Samurai would often have custom Kabuto to show off his personality, as a status symbol, or to show what class they belonged to.

This type of tattoo symbolizes the need to protect oneself when going into danger even if you know you can win.

Kabuto Tattoo

It is always important to know one’s limits and imperfections. 

Because Kabuto helmets are so important to the Japanese culture, it is an honor to wear one on your body.

The Kabuto helmet, worn by the Samurai class in battle, is a popular tattoo for both men and women.

Some get Kabuto tattoos to honor their own background, others simply have a deep admiration for the Samurai.

Samurai Sword Tattoo 

The Samurai sword tattoo is a popular image associated with the Samurai’s ability to be agile on the battlefield.

Katana Tattoo

The sword tattoo symbolizes grace in the face of danger and that you have great strength and resourcefulness when coming up against challenges. 

Oni Tattoo and Samurai Tattoo 

Oni tattoos are meant to ward off evil and tell people not to mess with you.

When a Samurai tattoo has an Oni mask for a face, it means that you will fight off anything that tries to disturb peace in your life.

Samurai and Oni Tattoo

This tattoo means that you will do anything to defend your honor. 

Female Samurai Tattoo 

A female Samurai is more unusual but it did happen in history.

Lady Samurai Tattoo

This tattoo promotes positive female energy and feminine achievement.

If you are proud of women and believe that they can do anything they set their mind to, this tattoo is for you. 

Geisha and Samurai Tattoo 

A Geisha tattoo is an ode to beauty and femininity.

Samurai and Geisha Tattoo

A Geisha and Samurai tattoo shows two opposite ideas: this tattoo represents the charm of a beautiful woman and the strength and dexterity of a warrior.

This tattoo can show that there are two sides to every coin, or, that opposites attract. 

Cherry Blossom and Samurai Tattoo 

The cherry blossom as related to the Samurai in tattoos represents wealth and prosperity.

This tattoo could be a good luck charm for you to attract money and move up in life.

Or, it could celebrate your triumph over life and your good fortune with wealth. 

Samurai Tattoo Styles 

The meaning of a Samurai tattoo can change depending on its style.

There are endless ways to create a Samurai tattoo, but here are a few that could be inspiring to you: 

Japanese Samurai Tattoo  

This is the classic style of a Samurai tattoo and often features waves, cherry blossoms, and other Japanese tattoo imagery surrounding the Samurai.

Japanese Samurai Tattoo

This tattoo tends to mean the more classic side of the Samurai warrior such as strength, perseverance, and triumph over evil. 

Tebori Samurai Tattoo 

The Tebori style is quite a popular Japanese style of tattoo artistry.

Anyone would be lucky to receive a Samurai tattoo in the Tebori style.

This style means that you are as serious as a Samurai about discipline and doing the right thing. 

Realistic Samurai Tattoo 

A realistic Samurai tattoo represents the heartfelt reality of the Samurai, which is that it was a tough life full of hardships.

Realistic Samurai Tattoo

If this resonates with you and you feel your life has been a struggle, then this tattoo may give you the strength to move on and fight your battles. 

Black and Grey Samurai Tattoo 

The black and grey Samurai tattoo often focuses on the Samurai’s armor and on how strong and prepared he is for battle.

Black and Grey Samurai Tattoo 

This tattoo is for someone who is always prepared for the next fight in life and has won many metaphorical battles. 

Minimalist Samurai Tattoo 

A minimalist Samurai tattoo is simple in its nature and shows only a black outline of a Samurai.

Minimalist Samurai Tattoo

This tattoo emphasizes that the Samurai’s struggle is one he lives with alone.

If you are a lone wolf and consider yourself highly independent, this style may be right for you. 

New School Samurai Tattoo 

A new school Samurai tattoo is exciting and colorful— full of life!

This style of a Samurai tattoo represents the Samurai’s enriching life, which may serve to symbolize your own.  

Samurai Tattoo Placement 

Tattoo placement is key.

A Samurai tattoo can come in all different sizes but typically is shown in a medium to large tattoo because it is essentially a portrait.

Here are some examples of different Samurai tattoo placements: 

Samurai Sleeve Tattoo 

A Samurai sleeve tattoo is no joke.

If you have such a large Samurai tattoo, you most likely are a tough person who walks through life without any fears or reservations.

Samurai Sleeve Tattoo

This tattoo defines courage. 

Samurai Half Sleeve Tattoo 

A Samurai half sleeve tattoo, much like the full sleeve, shows that you are very courageous.

Samurai Half Sleeve Tattoo

This courage is something you are not afraid to show off because everyone who knows you understands that you are a tough person. 

Samurai Thigh Tattoo 

A Samurai tattoo on the thigh is a way to highlight your thigh muscles with a sign of being tough and courageous.

This placement of the Samurai tattoo emphasizes athleticism and strength. 

Samurai Back Tattoo 

This placement is where the Samurai tattoo gets all the fun— there’s room on the back to make an entire battle scene.

In fact, a back Samurai tattoo is often large and filled with other important Japanese imagery.

This tattoo means that you are a serious person who values loyalty and honor. 

Samurai Forearm Tattoo 

A tattoo of a Samurai on the forearm is a prominent spot for anyone to see.

Samurai Forearm Tattoo

This tattoo proves that you want people to know that you are a warrior, whether it be completely true or metaphorical.

This tattoo placement shows that you are courageous and want people to know not to mess with you! 

Samurai Hand Tattoo 

Now, this is a serious tattoo.

When you shake someone’s hand and they see a Samurai they will know that you are a tough person.

Samurai Hand Tattoo

However, they will also get the impression that you are honest and hardworking, as well as faithful to your word. 


The Samurai is a bold, courageous, and independent fighter who is always fighting for a cause.

This comes across in every Samurai tattoo.

A Samurai tattoo is not for everybody— it comes with a certain amount of bold character that not everyone possesses.

Anyone with a Samurai tattoo must have some strength and gumption.

A Samurai tattoo is no joke.

Plus, they are a great way to pay homage to the Japanese culture.

If you think you have what it takes, then go for it! 


  • Did the samurais have tattoos? 

The Samurai were not allowed to have tattoos. However, some had them and simply hid them in different places on their bodies. In fact, even today in Japan tattoos are considered taboo and are hidden secrets that are only shown in privacy. 

  • Are samurai tattoos offensive? 

No, Samurai tattoos are not offensive, as long as you show respect to the Japanese culture and celebrate it by receiving a Samurai tattoo.  

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