60+ Amazing Japanese Tattoo Designs You Will Love

By Jason Hamilton / May 25, 2019
Japanese Sun Tattoo 1
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Japanese tattoos are a different brand of tattoos. They have a distinct and unmistakable look, making them perhaps the most easily recognizable tattoos around the world. They come in two forms: traditional and modern. Both forms look nearly identical to each other. The main difference is the method used to apply the tattoo.

In this article, we will be sharing with you the secrets of the Japanese tattoo. We will also be sharing with you our carefully curated gallery of Japanese tattoo designs that you will absolutely appreciate as well as the various designs you can do with the Japanese tattoo.


Traditional Japanese Tattoo vs. Modern Japanese Tattoo

Traditional Japanese tattooing is the more authentic form and is done by hand using non-electrical tools. The tattoo artist manually inserts the ink into the skin using a special pencil-like tool. Traditional Japanese tattoos take years to finish, especially full-body designs. Not to mention, they are a lot more expensive than normal tattoos.


And that’s not all. Finding a traditional Japanese tattoo artist also presents a huge problem. Practitioners of the craft are extremely hard to find. Due to the Japanese government’s hard stance against tattoos in the past, there aren’t many left in Japan today. Most of them live in secret to avoid public scrutiny. You need connections and referrals just to get an audience with a traditional Japanese tattooist.

On the other hand, modern Japanese tattooing is done by using a regular tattoo machine. No need to travel to Japan to find a tattoo artist. There are many artists who specialize in Japanese tattoos, so it’s not that hard to find one around the world.


Modern Japanese tattoos are also cheaper and take less time to finish. A full body tattoo can take less than a year to finish, a quick turnaround compared to the 3-5 years that it takes for a traditional Japanese tattooist to finish the same design.

Designs You Can Do With The Japanese Tattoo

Japanese tattoos typically come in a mix of black-and-gray and colors, though there are also designs that come in full black-and-gray. The main piece of the design is rooted in Japanese culture. The most popular ones include dragons, tigers, koi, geishas, samurai, and kabuki masks.


The main piece is complemented by a black-and-gray background in the form of wavy patterns or clouds. Some designs have a full black background, which requires a painful amount of shading. The black-and-gray background does a great job of highlighting the main piece. In many cases, the main piece is flanked by a secondary design, usually lotuses or cherry blossoms.

Japanese tattoos are one those tattoos that look better the bigger they are. They look best when covering a large portion of the body such as the entire arm or back. You can go for a full-body tattoo – but make sure that you won’t have any regrets over the design. It’s impossible to cover up a Japanese tattoo. Keep that in mind.


Here are the best Japanese tattoo designs we saw. It’s up to you whether you want the authentic route and travel to Japan to find a traditional tattoo artist.

The Samurai Tattoo

The Samurais are a well-knownn symbol of Japan’s honor, strength, and loyalty. They are the human embodiment of these three traits whenever we talk about Japanese characters. This might be the reason why Samurais are now being used as tattoo designs for the Samurai Tattoo. The symbolism and aesthetic value they have is just immense.


Just in case you are very riled up by this tattoo design and you are surely determined to have a samurai tattoo be inked onto your skin, you must know that there are a lot of styles under this tattoo design (which are very gorgeous if we say so ourselves). From the usual samurai tattoo design to the more exotic samurai tattoo armor there is something for everyone in samurai tattoo designs.

Here are some of the samurai tattoo designs we thought you may want to check out:

A fully armed samurai tattoo on the upper sleeves.

A very intricate neotraditional tattoo of a samurai helmet and mask.


A large chest and upper sleeve tattoo of a samurai.

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A neotraditional samurai helmet tattoo.


A sleeve tattoo of a samurai mask and helmet.

A large and vibrant full sleeve tattoo of a samurai armor.

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An intricately detailed samurai mask tattoo on the thigh.

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A shoulderplate armor tattoo inspired by high ranking samurai armor.

A tattoo of a high ranking samurai with heavy armor.


A fully plated samurai warrior tattoo on the leg.

A shoulder tattoo of a typical samurai shoulderplate armor.


A samurai mask tattoo on the leg.

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A samurai mask and helmet tattoo on the upper sleeves.

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A samurai helmet tattoo on the sleeves.


The Koi Fish Tattoo

The koi fish tattoo is one of the most meaningful tattoo designs out there. It contains so many meanings that even its direction can tell so much story about the wearer. If you are considering a koi fish tattoo, you might want to be more particular to its direction to make sure that it would really suit you.

Upward Direction

Koi fish tattoos swimming in an upward direction can mean that you have already gained more strength and stability. This means that you are even more ready to continue going against the current and face more challenges. Additionally, a koi fish swimming upstream can mean that you are not done yet in fighting your battles. Even so, it means that you will not give up and will continue to fight.

Downward Direction

While koi fishes swimming upstream often depicts positive meanings, downward direction can too. If a koi fish is drawn swimming downstream, it can mean that you’ve already overcome life’s biggest challenges and that you’ve already succeeded. Thus, you are not fighting the current anymore. On the other hand, it can also mean that you still don’t have the strength yet to overcome life’s obstacles and you still can’t move to success.

Now that you already know what each direction and color of a koi tattoo means, you might be wondering how you can combine them to use as a body art to show a bit of yourself. If you are fascinated with koi fishes, here is a list of tattoo design variation samples of koi fishes that you’ll definitely love too. These designs will suit whatever gender preference you have. On top of that, these designs will also work on any body part that you want to have it inked.

A black ink koi fish tattoo on the inner part of the left wrist

A black koi fish tattoo that covers the whole back


A koi fish tattoo on the upper left part of the back with elegant angles

A big koi fish sleeve tattoo made with grey ink

A big black koi  fish tattoo on the upper part of the left arm


A small outline of a koi fish on with multicolored pastel background on the left foot

A pink ink koi fish tattoo that’s drawn at the back


A brightly colored koi fish tattoo on the right arm


A small colored koi fish tat on the inner wrist

A blue ink koi fish tattoo drawn on the side of the torso

A watercolor koi fish tattoo on the chest near the shoulder

Koi fish tattoo with a cherry blossom tattoo

A minimalist yin-yang koi fish tattoo

The Japanese Mountain Tattoo

Mountains are a usual sight in Japan. No town on the mainland is farther than fifty miles to a mountain. It has shaped Japanese culture and how they interact with other Japanese and with foreigners. The mountains are an integral part of their culture, beliefs, and society. This is why Japanese tattoo designs will almost always feature a mountain of some sort (most commonly used mountain will be Mt. Fuji).

Enter the Japanese Mountain Tattoo. This tattoo is quite common for Japanese as a nod to their heritage and culture. It is also starting to gain a big following outside Japan because of its visual appeal and striking appearance. (You can recognize this tattoo from a mile away!)

Here are some of best Japanese mountain tattoo we saw on the internet:

A large and detailed Japanese style rising sun tattoo on the chest with a mountain.

A highly detailed and very intricate tattoo of the rising sun with Mt. Fuji and a Japanese Gate.

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A wonderfully made neotraditional style Japanese mountain tattoo of a mountain range with the Red Rising Sun in the background.

A neotraditional styled Japanese mountain tattoo with Mount Fuji and the Red Rising Sun iinked on the legs.

A Japanese themed tattoo of a high mountain with Japanese Pine Trees inked on the forearm.

A really cute and creative tattoo of a cat witth an ornate Japanese garden and a high mountain inside.

A Japanese Buddhist themed tattoo with pagodas and mountains.

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A small geometric tattoo of the famously known cherry blossom tree and Mount Fuji inside a triangle frame.

A vibrantly colored Japanese mountain tattoo inked on the upper sleeve portion of the arm with an additional pagoda for decor.

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The Oni Mask Tattoo

Oni masks are very popular in the Japanese tattoo scene. They are usually red or blue in colour but today, tattoo artists and enthusiasts tend to experiment with different colours.

Today, some of the more traditional Japanese people are still aloof when it comes to tattoos. Tattoos have had a bad name in the Japanese tradition, as these were used to identify the Yakuza, which are known as the Japanese mafia. Some businesses tend to ban customers with tattoos from coming into their establishments, although more and more people in Japan are slowly becoming open-minded and accustomed to this type of art.

A very intricate and colourful oni mask tattoo on the back of a subject.

An amazing black and grey oni mask tattoo on the lower arm.

A black and grey back piece of the oni mask tattoo.

An amazing and pretty usual tattoo design of the oni mask tattoo.

An amazingly done full back piece of the oni mask tattoo.

The Meaning Of The Oni Mask Tattoo

The Oni is known to have an extreme amount of strength and are also well-known for being accomplished sorcerers. They are also well-known for being the guardians of hell and the ones that are assigned to torture and punish the souls that were sent to hell.

Some people also believe that these creatures are cannibals. They are also believed to cause disasters, diseases, and other things that are unwanted and unpleasant. The Oni can also take on different forms and appearances to deceive and devour human beings.

A beautifully done blue oni mask tattoo on the arm of a tattoo enthusiast.

An oni mask tattoo done on the subject’s upper arm and shoulder.

A colourful design of the oni mask tattooed on the client’s arm.

A beautiful black and grey oni mask tattoo on a male’s upper leg.

Japanese Tattoo Designs On Men

Men, more specifically, Japanese men, dominates this part of the body art and tattoo market since Japan is considered as a patriarchal society. Because of this, a lot of Japanese tattoo designs are designed with men in mind.

Often times, men who desire to have this will usually go with an “over the top” design that is just oozing and overflowing with visually striking tattoo elements.

Here are just some of the best Japanese tattoo designs for men that we saw on the internet:

A simple but intricate back and grey oni mask tattoo on the arm.

A unique and amazing oni mask tattoo drawn on a cat.

A very beautiful and detailed oni mask tattoo design for tattoo lovers.

An amazingly done full back piece of the oni mask tattoo.

A huge oni mask tattoo done on the client’s whole back.



A large and highly detailed samurai tattoo on the sleeves.

A full kitted samura tattoo on the sleeves.

An intricately designed samurai tattoo on the sleeves with falling cherry blossoms.

A full sleeve and highly detailed samurai tattoo.

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An epic looking and highly detailed samurai tattoo on the lower right back portion of the body.

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Yakuza Tattoo Designs For Women

Although women are just a really small minority for this tattoo design, there are still designs available that are made for women. The women who usually get this tattoo are those who are married or related to a powerful underground Japanese individual.

women who desire to get this tattoo would also go for the visually striking designs just because it is the norm for this kind of tattoo design and it is just pure eye candy.

Here are some of the amazing Japanese tattoo for women that we saw while surfing the web:

A wonderfully made girl samurai tattoo.

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An intricate tattoo of a samurai and a geisha.

A highly detailed girl samurai tattoo.

A large girl samurai tattoo on the back.

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A noir girl woman samurai tattoo on the sleeve.

A blue japanese wave tattoo on the leg.

A black and white ink tattoo of a japanese wave.

A vibrant and colorful full sleeve tattoo of japanese waves.

A large full sleeve tattoo of waves and a koi fish in Japanese art style.

A large and intricate japanese wave tattoo on the leg.

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About the author

Jason Hamilton

Jason has been an avid fan of tattoos for over 13 years now. He is currently 35 years old, and he got his first tattoo at the age of 22. Since then, he has added over 20 tattoos to his collection. He is also into writing, which is why he decided to celebrate both of his passion and hobby through tats ‘n’ rings. Jason dreams of having his very own tattoo parlor soon. Jason would be very happy to answer any questions about tattoos that you may have! Leave a comment below and he’ll answer it for you right away!

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