A detailed shot of a blue/green dragon tattoo in Japanese style on the forearm, elbow and bicep of a white male isolated on a black background.

Japanese style tattoos are known not only for their deep and cultural meanings, but also for their impeccable artistic merits and truly flowing composition. That is why more and more tattoo enthusiasts turn to their artistic designs if they are looking for bold design that would really standout.


There are several symbols and images commonly used for Japanese style tattoos. Often, these images convey the wearer’s character, belief, or personal aspiration. There are also themes or motifs with common design elements that express meanings that are not unique to those who have them. It simply means anyone can easily recognize what those tattoos mean, whether it is a trait, a dream, or even an association to which a person belongs to.


Here are some popular Japanese tattoo designs and what they mean:


Dragon Tattoos

While in the west, dragons are perceived as ferocious and strong creatures with such a destructive force, in the east, they are viewed in a different. In Japan, for example dragons are perceived as generous and great forces that use their strength for the good of mankind. Wisdom is also associated with dragons.


Koi Tattoos

Koi fish tattoos are another popular Japanese tattoo design. Koi signify masculine qualities in old Eastern folklore. Some of these qualities include bravery and strength, as well as determination to succeed. In real life though, Koi fishes are a special type of carp.


Tiger Tattoos

Similar to the real animal, tiger tattoos signify traits like strength and courage. We also add long life to the things it symbolizes. Tiger tattoos are also said to ward off bad luck, disease, and evil spirits.


Wave or Water Tattoos

Water is often featured in Japanese tattoos, too. It’s also one of the most recognizable. What does water or wave represents? It conveys one’s life, strength, and the belief that life also ebbs and flows.


Phoenix Tattoos

A design with a shared background with a few other cultures. But whatever its origin is, for the Japanese, it means triumph and rebirth. It means a chance to renew or rebuild one’s own self.


Oni Mask Tattoos

The Oni Mask is also really common among Japanese and other Asians, as well as Westerners, too. It signifies the old belief that there is a spirit world wherein you’ll find demons carrying the sole task of punishing the unjust. Some Oni are seen as protectors, like a monk who in the afterlife becomes an Oni.


These are just some of the most popular designs that Japanese tattoos are famous for. Would you consider getting one? Which one do you think would suit your personality best?