Tattoos in Japan have a deep-rooted history. Japanese have a peculiar love and hate relationship with tattoos. As a matter of fact, body inking was banned in Japan until 1948. Presently Japanese Tattoo artists are required to hold a valid medical license to provide the linking services to their clients. This law came into force from the year 2001. It is now considered as a medical procedure because the tattoos are done by piercing skin with the help of needles.
This is where Japan is so different than other countries as far as the concept of tattoos is concerned. Here, the conventional art of tattooing is known a horimono or irezumi, which means engraving or carving.
History of Tattoos in Japan
It is evident from the history of Japan that connotations and purposes of tattooing have changed here time and again. Tattoos were sometimes used for spiritual purposes while in some occasions these were used for the sake of decoration. Some people even used these as their status symbol whereas at some point in time these were even used as a way of punishing criminals.
There is a popular saying that modern Japanese Tattoo artists have carried the legacy of ukiyo-e artists who used to paint woodblocks, and this is quite evident from the resemblance of modern tattoo styles and the designs with the art which we can see on the famous and heritage woodblocks.
The Japanese tattoo styles have been always popular for their lavishness and detailed designs but unfortunately, this industry faced a setback for few years due to certain negative connotations, but the good news is that these negative perceptions about tattoos in Japan have almost gone and their tattoo industry has again started gaining prominence in the international market.
Different Variations of Tattoos Offered by Japanese Tattooists
The subjects for the tattoos of Japan have wide ranges of variations and represent rich and sophisticated Japanese culture. The tattoos offered by the Japanese tattoo artists come with a unique style of backgrounds which are the most important parts of the tattoo designs. The aesthetic appeal of these tattoos increases substantially, especially due to the placement of the backgrounds of these tattoos. For instance, clouds, waves, wind bars etc. are linked in such a way that it looks like a piece of textile in two dimensions.
There are certain rules as well which are followed by tattooists during inking like images of Lord Buddha are only meant to be inked on the upper part of the waist. Mostly used designs are of fishes, animals, plants, flowers etc. In the coming section, some of the popular tattoo designs will be discussed:
- Tattoos of Dragon – Dragons occupy a very important place in Japanese mythology. This gets well transmitted into the tattoo designs of the Japanese tattoo artists. It is popularly believed that dragons represent good forces and are lucky charms as a tattoo on the body with the image of dragons
- Tattoos with the image of Tigers – Japanese tattooists offer a special type of tattoo with the image of a tiger. This type has huge variations and it symbolizes strength and courage
- Snake Tattoos – Japanese tattoo artists offer the snake tattoos as a symbol of wisdom and good fortune. All tattoos with images of snakes have the great visual impact
- Tattoos with Phoenix – These tattoos are offered by Japanese tattoo artists for those people who have a never say die attitude and have self-belief in coming back to life like phoenix birds, who are believed to be born from their own ashes
- Wave and Water Tattoos – These tattoos are suitable for those people who believe in the reality and are optimists.
- Tree and flowery Designed Tattoos – These types of tattoos are best suited for symbolizing strength, power, and efforts. These designs are very popularly used by the tattooists.
Apart from the above-mentioned tattoo designs, Japanese tattooists also offer various other types of tattoo styles like tattoos of Koi fish, Skulls, various other animals etc but the choice of inking depends on the person who wants to get inked.