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Japanese tattoo meanings?

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Japanese tattoo meanings? 2012/7/6 09:16
I was just wondering, are there any specific meanings to the tattoos that some people have in Japan? For instance, what most Yakuza members have, a full body tattoo. Some have dragons, tigers, onii, Buddhas, koi, etc. do they have any specific meaning?

Also, where are some good places to get traditional tattoos such as those in Japan? And how much would they cost for a full body?

Thanks!

by Nature18  

Re: Japanese tattoo meanings? 2012/7/6 16:11
Hi Nature18

There are several specific meanings to the tattoos that most Yakuza members have in Japan.

They use their tattoos to threat and surprise other Yakuza members and ordinary people by showing their own large tattoos. Generally, larger tattoos mean a stronger person.

For all Yakuza members, large tattoos are a kind of excessive self-confidence and pretentiousness. Dragons and tigers, oni (Japan's ogre) are good for threating another Yakuza member, because they have been traditionally thought to be strong.

This is the main reason why Yakuza members will NEVER have tiny tattoos typically seen on the arms of US people. Basically, Japan's Yakuza members don't like small tatoos.

In Japan's old days, tattoos were used to punish criminals. So, most people living in Japan don't like to see tatoos even if they are small (it's sad to see some ordinary people in Japan have tattos just like fashion without thinking the real meaning in old days).

by dosanko100 rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese tattoo meanings? 2012/7/6 16:19
Just wanted to correct several typos of my last answer:

Wrong
threat and surprise other Yakuza members
Correct
THREATEN and surprise other Yakuza members

Wrong
for threating another Yakuza member
Correct
for THREATENING another Yakuza member

Wrong
tatoos
Correct
tattoos

by dosanko100 rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese tattoo meanings? 2012/7/6 17:28
Full Body Japanese tattoo takes 250 ~300 hours total, and the artist will charge anywhere from 10,000 ~ 25,000Yen per hour. Some artists are afraid to be associated with Yakuza, so most artists do the work by appointment.

As for the meaning, most people probably interpret them however they feel. Dragons and tigers always look tough. I know Carp Fish swimming upward against the current means "Good Fortune". These are originated in Chinese "Fen Shui" philosophy.

I once met a track driver with Kan-non Buddha tattoo, and he told me that the face of the Buddha was drawn after his deceased daughter.

Tattoo used to be very Japanese thing with the 5000+ years of history. The Samurai era Tokyo judge, Toyama no Kin-san, was wearing Sakura Blizzard tattoo (it is likely a fictional :). For I know, King George V of the United Kingdom was wearing Red/Blue dragon tattoo done in Japan during the trip in 1881.

However, Yakuza overused it last 60 years or so, and it’s becoming taboo in Japanese society. As you can read comment above, most Japanese despise them, and appreciation as an art is not there at all. You cannot go Onsen or public swimming pools if you have them, and it seems like you cannot be public workers anymore….

by jomonstrider rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese tattoo meanings? 2012/7/6 18:47
Hiya again

In any way, please be careful with Japanese-style full-body tattoos.

If you have a Japanese-style tattoo over your whole body in the near future, never show it to your Japanese friends, or they will be surprised a lot and think that you were a criminal jailed at a prison somewhere in Japan before.

By spending a lot of your money in full-body tattoos, you will lose your friendship with Japanese people.

by dosanko100 rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese tattoo meanings? 2012/7/7 06:43
I've talked to some of my Japanese friends, and they say it is kind of frowned upon, but, it's going to be covered. It won't be on my entire body, just up to my elbows on my arms, back, stomach, up to my thigh. Nothing on my visible arms, legs, neck or face.

Also, would I be able to get into a private onsen? I've heard that there are some onsen you or a group could rent out so I was thinking it may be allowed.

Thanks for the answers!

by Nature18 rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese tattoo meanings? 2012/7/10 14:54
I am a tattoo artist and my most part of body cover tattoo but I still go to Onsen!
If you have chance to visit Hakone in Kanagawa, you should go to Tenzan(http://www.secret-japan.com/onsen/show.php?selcode=36).
Me and my tattoo family always visit there.
by Horien rate this post as useful

Re: Japanese tattoo meanings? 2012/7/10 17:57
Yakuza-sans also run onsen business, so why not.
by Module (guest) rate this post as useful

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