The Japanese have one of the richest traditions on tattoos. Having evolved over centuries, modern Japanese tattoos mix traditional aspects of Japanese tattoos with elements of the present. If you are contemplating getting a Japanese tattoo, understanding all the key elements including the culture and history is important.The characteristically elaborate nature of Japanese tattoos makes them beautiful yet complex to understand and create. Note that the Japanese language has no precise alphabet – Japanese text is instead a collection of symbols representative of sounds and concepts.
So that you are certain on just what the Japanese tattoo you get means, go to a tattoo artist that has proven experience and knowledge of Japanese language.The characters in written Japanese can be placed in three broad categories. The first is Katana which are strongly masculine sound symbols developed by monks (Buddhist). The second category is Hiragana characters which even though predominantly representing sound like Katana, are more feminine because of their roots in the women of the Heian era.The gender leanings of Hiragana and Katana mean you must choose carefully the symbol you choose on your tattoo to ensure that you clearly convey your desired message.The third category of written Japanese characters is the most popular when it comes to tattoos – Kanji.
Kanji can be traced back to the Chinese before it made its way into Japan. Kanji convey peace, love, courage and other similar concepts. Kanji can be complex but have the advantage of making the message from your tattoo relatively straightforward unlike the other 2 character categories.Knowing the three categories of written Japanese characters is just one part of ensuring you get the right tattoo.
You must also take cognizance of Japanese writing styles which incidentally also fall in three categories – Kaisho, which is the equivalent of block writing style in English, Gyousho is cursive and Sousho is an extreme, fanciful form of cursive writing.Like computer fonts, the writing style you choose depends on how you want the characters on your tattoo to look like.And if you find the notion of understanding written Japanese characters and writing styles too much to handle, you can always go for the relatively more straightforward artwork.
This would include dragons, koi fish, tigers, bonsai trees, samurai, shogun, geishas and Shinto symbols such as Buddhas and bodhisattvas all done with a unique Japanese style.In ancient Japan, tattoos were a mark for criminals. In fact even today, Japanese upper classes still somewhat frown upon tattoos as a preserve of gangsters and the lower class. Interestingly, Japanese tattoo art is growing rapidly in the rest of the world with little regard for the class divide.