Japanese tattoos are famous for their many motifs that range from seasonal flowers to Koi, etc. However, what does all this symbolism mean? Knowing what they mean is just as important as making sure that they are beautiful. In this article, we’ll examine three of the most common motifs and discover what they mean.
The dragon is unarguably one of the most iconic tattoos and is associated with Shinto, Folklore and East Asian art for many centuries. Dragons, for the most part, represent wisdom, fortune, and courage. They are linked to water & wind and are mainly illustrated with waves in most of the traditional Japanese tattoos. One distinction between a Japanese and Chinese dragon is that the latter has five toes while Japanese dragons have three.
The Koi fish is a staple in many traditional tattoos as they symbolize determination, luck, hard work, and success. The koi is inked in many different colors, each one emphasizing a particular trait. It is often linked to the water element and depicted by swimming against the current. Though a Koi swimming in a downstream direction has a different meaning, which is overcoming obstacles. Generally, the Koi is tattooed with sakura or some lotus flowers.
Seasonal Flowers Tattoos
Japanese tattoos often feature three key seasonal flowers, i.e. the Sakura, Chrysanthemum, and Lotus.
Sakura : A five petal pink flower also called cherry blossom, symbolizes spring. It is considered a symbol of life but is finite by design in the grand scheme of the world. Usually, the Sakura is tattooed along with water or wind with some creatures.
Chrysanthemum : It is seen as a symbol of autumn because that is when this flower blooms. It represents perfection and longevity, which is also why it is the symbol representing the Imperial throne of Japan. While there are many different types of chrysanthemum, the one depicted in Japanese tattoos happen to be very large with narrowly shaped petals which move upwards from the dead center.
Lotus : The lotus has strong associations with the Buddhist religion and isn’t just in Japan but in all areas where Buddha is considered a teacher. It is a symbol of rebirth, wisdom, transformation, purity, beauty, elegance and enlighten. It is often drawn using different colors, and each color has its purpose. It is often used in conjunction with the dragon or other flowers.