Japanese Tattoos: Irezumi history, meanings and gallery.

Irezumi in Japanese means "putting ink under the skin".

Black and white photos © Horace Bristol

History of the Japanese tattoo

It is believed that Japanese tattoos originated in Paleolithic times around 10,000 BC.. However, this claim has been repeatedly debated, as not all scholars agree that the distinctive patterns found on the bodies and faces of people from the ancient era are in fact tattoos. Nevertheless, those who believe that Japanese tattoos were already there at the time endow them with a decorative and spiritual meaning.

However, between 300 BC and 300 AD. A.D., during the Yayoi period , there is no dispute that the presence of tattoos on the inhabitants of Japan was recorded by a certain visitor from China. During this period tattoos were used as a status symbol, as well as having a decorative and spiritual meanings. After 300 AD and until 600 AD tattoos became synonymous with criminal activity and took on a much more negative connotation. Tattooing was used as punishment.

Japanese tattoo gallery

The first entry about Japanese tattoos, used as punishment, was found in 720 AD. It read: "The Emperor summoned Hamako, Murai o Azumi and commanded you to speak of rebellion to overthrow the state system. This crime is punishable by death. I, however, pardon you from the death penalty and negotiate for tattooing."

The style of decorative Japanese tattooing as we know it today began to develop around the Edo period from 1600 AD to 1868 AD. The novel Suikoden is a tale of rebellion and courage. The engravings that illustrate it depict people with decorative images of flowers, tigers, dragons, and mythical animals.

When artists began tattooing human bodies, they used the same tools they used to create their engravingssuch as chisels and potholders. They used Nara ink, also known as Black Inkwhich turns blue-green once it's injected under the skin.. Also, people who study the history of the origins of Japanese tattoos have hotly debated who exactly wore these tattoos on the body in the early period. Some believe that tattoos were the privilege of wealthy merchants who were legally prevented from flaunting their wealth. Others believe it was the lower classes, a third opinion is that tattoos came to be associated with people doing dangerous work, such as firemen, who used Irezumi for protection.

At the beginning of the Meiji period, which lasted from September 1868 to July 1912, the Japanese government, wanting to protect its image and make a good impression on the West, outlawed tattoos, but tattoos were still popular among criminal elements and fascinated foreigners who traveled to Japan to see the skill of tattoo artists.

During the occupation in 1948, tattoos were legalized againbut their use still retained an association with criminal liability and association with the notorious Japanese Yakuza Mafia. Today many businesses in Japan, such as fitness centers, hot springs and public baths still refuse to serve customers with tattoos.

Who is suitable for

A tattoo with snakes is a universal tattoo, which is suitable for both a guy and a girl. Such a symbolic choice can be made by a person seeking wisdom and knowledge. Snake has a multifaceted meaning, and therefore develop or choose a sketch should be as carefully as possible. The slightest detail can dramatically change the deeper meaning of the tattoo. For example, the male body of such a tattoo may represent the phallic beginning, while at the same time on a female body - carry the esoteric mystery and intuition. Often, the snake tattoo, decorated with a symbolic inscription, which is also quite popular among fans of body art.

The meaning of the tattoo lion-stranger ("Korean dog")

Lion-stranger or Koma-inu (literally translated as "Korean dog") is one of the symbols of the country of the Rising Sun. The legend has it that the Empress Jingguo once went on a campaign against Korea, and the ruler of that country swore to protect the Japanese emperors forever from any threats.


He was going to fulfill his claim through the "Korean dog" (a dog with a lion's head), which is a reference to the Chinese guardian lion that can protect its owner from the influence of evil spirits. This is one example of how the Japanese borrowed some legends from other peoples.

Tattoo of a lion-stranger

The Japanese believed that the head of this mysterious creature was characterized by unprecedented strength, and it was used to make helmets that could not be penetrated not only by an arrow, but also by a sword. And also in Asia were widely used statues of these guards, which are usually installed at the entrances to the tombs of rulers, administrative offices, residences of emperors and other important buildings.

Tattoo of a lion-stranger

The lion-guardian is a symbol of protection against evil, and at the same time of success and power. However, tattoo masters recommend depicting this creature together with a beautiful peony flower or other similar object in order to maintain balance, otherwise the unbridled fury of the lion-guardian can engulf the tattoo owner.

Symbolism and meaning

The snake is a symbol that mixes a variety of meanings. Among the most common interpretations of this symbol are the following:

  • Unpredictability and unexpectedness;
  • Wisdom and inspiration;
  • Vitality and instinctive beginning;
  • Treachery and cunning;
  • Evil, darkness, and chaos.

Some cultures associate the snake with the Cosmic Tree. That is why fans of esoteric teachings are often stuffed with snakes tattoos. In this case, do not forget that the snake can be interpreted as a symbol of a fatal tempter. So, before you put a sizzling creature on your body, clarify what this or that tattoo means.

Japanese Tattooing

Traditionally in Japan with Irezumi, most tattoo designs are left to the artist. Today, tattoos in Japan are very similar to westernWhere customers bring their own tattoo designs to the artist or choose from those offered in the salon. Japanese tattoo artists are well-versed in all styles of tattooing, not just the traditional Japanese style, and, as in the West, they tattoo with an electric tattoo machine. Ink is injected under the skin with a needle.

Japanese tattoo artists are known for the quality of their work, and despite discrimination in Japan, this country, which is still positioned as one of the best where you can get a very high quality tattoo from a good master.

In Japan Some very experienced tattoo artists still is allowed to practice the ancient art of Irezumibut it's a a very long and painful process, and very expensive. Irezumi, which covers the arms, upper legs and chest, can take up to five years, with a visit to the master once a week, and the cost may well exceed 25,000 euros. The client and the artist can discuss the idea of the tattoo for a long time before the artist provides his sketches and the author, however, reserves the right not to perform the work if they have not come to an agreement. If the sketch is approved, then Work begins with the drawing of the contoursAs a rule, this is done by hand and without using a stencil. Once the outline is completed, the Colors and shadows are added. When the work is complete, the artist will add their signature on the work., usually on the back in a specially reserved area.

Where to stuff it

Beautiful tattoos depicting snakes adorn a variety of places on the body of true fans of the art of "ink and blood". Nevertheless, there are the most successful locations, which can be conditionally divided into male and female.

To the popular "male" places we shall refer the following:

  • Neck;
  • Forearm;
  • Back;
  • Scapulae;
  • The back of the hand.

Girls may be offered these options:

  • Thigh;
  • Shoulder;
  • Abdomen;
  • Lower back;
  • Ankle;
  • Finger;
  • Wrist.

Scorpio zodiac sign

Scorpio (October 24-November 22) is the eighth sign of the zodiac horoscope. Scorpio is patronized by Mars and Pluto. Two qualities of Mars dominate Scorpio: eroticism and aggressiveness. Symbols: scorpio, serpentine, eagle, sign of death, luminary, pyramid.

If we talk about the animal representing the sign of the zodiac, Scorpions are a class of arthropods from the class of spiders. Exclusively terrestrial forms, found only in hot countries. Total known about 1750 species of scorpions, but the venom of only about 50 of them is dangerous to humans.


Japanese style is the perfect choice for snake and dragon tattoos. It is in this style that the body art will look authentic. But it is worth noting that for some reason in the Russian-speaking community of fans of body art, most tattoos with snakes are stuffed in the traditional style or old skool. Slightly less often there is a preference for the new school, Polynesian and minimalist. On the bodies of brutal men can be seen snake tattoos, made in a thrash-polka style. There are interesting sketches in the direction of biomechanics.

Japanese tattoo these days

Nowadays, due to the spread around the world, zWestern tattoos have gained popularity among Japanese youthAlthough the general opinion is still negative. Unlike in the Western world, in Japan it is not easy to find a tattoo parlor outside of tourist areas or areas with the U.S. military. According to Kunihiro Shimada, president of the Japan Tattoo Institute - "there are only three hundred tattoo artists in Japan, largely due to government policy. Even today, tattoos are frowned upon in hot springs and public baths. If a person with a tattoo on his body wants to visit the establishment, he will be asked to at least cover the tattooed body part."

In 2012, Toru Hashimoto, mayor of Osaka, began a campaign to fire tattooed employees from organizations. An article written about him said, "His mission is to get government employees to admit to having tattoos on their bodies. If they have them, they should remove them or find work elsewhere." His beliefs are generally well received by the public, especially large companies afraid of tattoos.

Where to get a tattoo?

It is preferable for girls to choose small tattoos. The tribal is imposed on an elbow, a shoulder-blade, a collarbone, a wrist or an ankle with an intricate bracelet.The lumbar area.

The beauty of the tattoo located between the shoulder blades simply fascinates, forcing to consider all the details of a clear image. True, the tattooed panel, originating at the base of the neck, flowing down the spine to the waist with the coverage of the shoulder blades and thighs, is not accessible to all for viewing.

Tattoo trayball for girls. Meaning, pictures, sketches

In photos of women you can see mysterious ornaments under the chest, unilateral geometric patterns almost full-length, tattooed images from thighs to ankles.

Among female fans of body art, a sleeve is popular - a continuous pattern from the head of the hand to the wrist or a net-like pattern on both hands. Similar patterns are often complemented by drawing a mesh over the chest, turning the tattoo in the original version of the costume.

Tattoo trayble for girls. Meaning, photos, sketches

Men order tattoos on the back or chest, as well as the hips. Special attention is a tattooed tribal sleeve - the tattoo from the wrist rushes up the entire length of the arm, covering the collarbone and scapula. As with girls, in the stronger sex no less popular sketches for small tattoos on the forearm.

In general, before choosing a sketch, it is necessary to determine the part of the body where the composition will be stuffed, its size directly depends on this.

What can mean?

We all know that snakes are dangerous predators, but they can also be healers - their venom is often used for medicinal purposes. And even though it is often problematic to show such ambiguity on a tattoo, it is real. Even in ancient Greece, such a creature was associated with medicine (hence the popular image of a bowl), in India, it was also considered the goddess of prophecy and fertility. Looking at the pictures in our gallery of sketches, you can see that the meaning you want to achieve, can easily be read from the stylistics and details. As you can see, such tattoos are often done on the collarbone.

Which celebrities have a tattoo of a scorpion

Tattoo is also popular among stars, socialites and other members of show business. Mick Mars, Angelina Jolie, as well as numerous models - on their bodies paparazzi not once noticed such images.

Thus, the scorpion tattoo on various parts of the body is a symbol of belligerence and fortitude, courageous character and the ability to endure any obstacles. Before making such an image, look at the sketches, study the symbolism and determine the best place for such a pattern.

The main meanings of the tattoo

Tattoo tribal for girls are distinguished by the apparent simplicity of the patterned geometry, but hide the secret of deep meaning. With the help of sketches and lines, the bearer tells about herself through visual symbolism, conveying the individual features of the personality.

However, when choosing a pattern, it is worth considering what kind of style the tribal motifs of the ornamental pattern belong to.


In the voluminous and coarse ornamentation, full of interlacing, you can see the geometric curvature of lines. These are waves of clearly drawn spirals, between the turns of which skulls, celestial luminaries (sun, moon), plants or animals are hidden.

Tattoo trayble for girls. Meaning, photos, sketches

The unique variation of trayble only at first glance looks gloomy, the pattern is worth a closer look. The meaning of unique subjects is associated with the desire to show individuality, to fill life with harmony and positivity.


As a rule, the original motifs of this variety are performed in two-color graphics - a combination of black with shades of red, green, blue.

The native Haida Indians attributed their own meaning to each color:

  • black was associated with the earth;
  • red is the color of the blood of living beings;
  • blue corresponds to the heavenly expanse;
  • Green was associated with vegetation.

Tattoo trayble for girls. Meaning, photos, sketches

The main theme of the tribe tattoo is associated with animals and birds, the inhabitants of the sea depths (sharks, dolphins). The meaning of the amulet that became a tattoo - to protect the belligerent owner from ill-wishers, to endow with courage, to protect from negativity and dangers.


The tribal of this type is now at the height of fashion, the brightness of the extensive plots is strikingly luxurious, symbolizes honor, courage of spirit and strength. Japanese tattoos have their own classification. But for girls is suitable name drawing Kakushi-boro, which was named after a popular geisha.

Tattoo trayble for girls. Meaning, photos, sketches

In addition to hieroglyphs, clear patterns may contain images of a carp (perseverance), a turtle (wisdom), a snake (protection). A bright and clear dragon pattern is interpreted as a pledge of good luck and longevity.


The militancy of the Celtic tribal is fond of young people. Tattoo plots abound in bracelets and crosses, and their entanglements are called magic knots, symbolizing the infinity of life.

Tattoo trayble for girls. Meaning, photos, sketches

Among the knots and spirals often hide plants or animals, then the natal composition becomes a talisman for the girl. If the heart is placed inside the ornament, the symbolism of the tattoo indicates the unity of loving souls.


The composition of this variety of tribal decorate the neck and arm, as well as the shoulder blades and chest. Symmetrical stripes of dark patterns are complemented by images of animals (dodgy) and insects (wisdom), plants (infinity).

Tattoo trayble for girls. Meaning, photos, sketches
Tattoo tribal for girls in the African style

For girls are more suitable subjects with the moon and stars, the meaning of which is associated with harmony, devotion, love. The presence of a wooden comb in a female composition is interpreted as a sign of maiden purity.


Tattoo tribal for girls usually cover the skin with an indivisible canvas, and are performed mainly in a two-color manner - black and red. The main element of ethno ornaments is the sign of infinity, by which ancient Slavs denoted rebirth.

Tattoo trayble for girls. Meaning, photos, sketches

As a rule, the silhouettes of birds and animals are interspersed with runes, stars, signs of pagan gods. The presence of the thunder wheel symbolism in the drawing turns the tattoo into a talisman amulet.

What style of tattoo is suitable for a tattoo with a scorpion

The simplest and most common option is black and white imagesWhich are very detailed and clear. To supplement such a composition, if desired, you can plant ornaments.

Allocate also colored tattoos This representative of the animal world, executed in green and brown tones, using a variety of shades that allow you to create three-dimensional images.

Take note: when applying the image of the scorpion, it is important not to forget about your own style.

More often than not, tattoos are made in a rather brutal styleThat does not go well with business suits and flying dresses. However, you can choose a small and subtle sketch with light contours and a little color, with soft lines, which will be a universal option.

A great option for expressing your personality is the scorpion, which will be Complete with a themed inscription.. It can be a memorable date, a favorite name, a motto invented by yourself. Such a tattoo will stand out against the background of stamped images.


For women

For Men