Japanese Tattoos In Bangkok
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Due to their bold, intricate designs, Japanese tattoos have long been seen as one of the most popular body art forms.
They come in a variety of shapes and sizes; from highly individual small pieces to huge full arm, leg, or back pieces that are distinctly unique.
Two major advantages for those receiving a Japanese tattoo are:
- Extend as you wish: The style of such a design never ends with a hard line. This means it can always be extended into something larger.
- Ideal for covering old/unwanted tattoos: The bold colours and regular use of shading makes the Japanese style one of the best available to cover up any old tattoos, especially those that are on the large or dark side.
What are Japanese Tattoos exactly?
Japanese tattoo artists are arguably amongst the finest and most skillful in the world. They produce highly artistic, intricate and stunning tattoo designs that any tattoo aficionado will be proud to have.
Should I get a Japanese Tattoo in Japan?
Visiting Japan itself to get a Japanese style tattoo is definitely an option but it can be far more challenging than you expect:
Four major hurdles are:
- Long waiting lists: There are surprisingly few tattoo studios in Japan. This means you will often encounter long waiting lists that can range from weeks to years long.
- Not all studios in Japan will accept foreigners: Unlike most Western studios who will accept customers from all walks of life, many studios in Japan are “Japanese only” and foreigners aren’t welcome.
- Substantial artwork takes time: Those looking to have a substantial piece of artwork inked on their body will be aware that multiple sessions are required. This means you are committed to staying in Japan until the full tattoo is completed and as you may know, Japan can be extremely expensive to visit
- Costly: Because demand for tattoos in Japan often outstrips supply you will need to pay a premium in order to achieve your desired design, often at many times the cost of even high level Western tattoo studios
Why getting a Japanese tattoo with a highly skilled studio in Bangkok can be a better idea
Knowing the above information, it’s no surprise that many people who were thinking about getting some top quality ink in Japan give up on their dream.
This does not need to be the case! We have some very positive news for those seeking Japanese artwork. Whether this be a small piece or full body artwork, ALL DAY Tattoo in Bangkok are here for you!
We have a large team of artists, many of whom have travelled extensively through Asia and have really taken the time to perfect their skills in the Japanese style.
Is a Japanese tattoo design right for you?
One thing the ALL DAY Tattoo team are fully committed to is ensuring that whatever tattoo design you want, that’s what you’ll get.
We completely understand and respect the long-term commitment you are making when deciding on what body art best meets your needs.
In this respect we are here to offer advice where needed and will help you to put together a design that you love that will really stand the test of time.
In order for you to understand whether a Japanese tattoo design is right for you let’s have an in-depth look at precisely what they are all about:
A brief history of Japanese tattoos
Some people maintain that the art of tattooing actually originated in Japan. Whether or not this is the case, there is no doubt that Japan has an incredibly proud history of tattooing which may date as far back as 10,000 B.C.
Historians believe that women of an ancient Ainu tribe used to have their lips tattooed – possibly a precursor to lipstick but more permanent – and other historians maintain that the cord-marked patterns that can be seen on the faces and bodies of people who lived thousands of years ago are in fact tattoos.
What is certain is that Chinese observers of the 600-year period from 300 B.C. to 300 A.D. report that tattoos became very popular, and they were highly sought-after status symbols, as well as having spiritual significance.
- Irezumi: During the heyday of Japanese tattooing, or Irezumi, (meaning ‘insert ink’), started to take on a distinctly disreputable image.
- Bokkei: Around 300 A.D., the marking of criminals with tattoos – known as Bokkei – became widespread . The practice of bokkei continued for the next 500 years, right up to 1868 when it was finally abandoned.
Is it true Japanese tattoos originated as the first “cover ups”?
However, during the latter 200 years of its existence, criminals who were ashamed of their markings had them covered up with more creative designs.
This led to an ‘underground’ tattoo movement with many ordinary Japanese citizens also opting to have works of art tattooed on their bodies, such as dragons, mythical beasts, and flowers.
How did the Japanese tattoo style develop?
Some historians maintain that it was the working classes who liked to display their tattoos, while others say that it was the wealthy merchants, who by law had to appear humble and the expensive irezumi were hidden under their clothes.
Probably both versions have some truth, and tattoo historians agree that it was during this 200-year period that the grand and distinctive tattoo designs started to develop.
Some of the revered artists of the time, whose artistic talents had been handed down by their forefathers, adapted their skills to imprint magical designs onto human flesh.
They even used the self-same tools previously employed to create their woodblocks for printing.
It was also during this period that the unique Japanese Nara ink, originally used in woodblock art, (‘moku hanga’), came into use.
Can you imagine your tattooist using a chisel or a gouge to produce your tattoo?
Did the Japanese really ban tattooing?
When the practice of Bokkei was abandoned, the authorities decided to ban tattooing completely.
During the Meiji period (1868 –1912) the Japanese tattooing industry was driven completely underground where it continued to flourish, especially for foreigners.
For the indigenous population, tattoos became ever more associated with criminals and criminality –especially the Yakuza (Japanese Mafia) who had their own special tattoos.
Then ‘Uncle Sam’, as leader of the occupying forces at the end of WW2, once more legalized tattooing in 1948. Over the decades since, tattoos have become quite popular amongst the post-war Japanese.
But even to this day, much of the Japanese establishment still regard tattoos as belonging to the Yakuza criminal classes, and in some public places, such as gyms and golf courses, people with tattoos are actually refused admission. This partly explains why there are still relatively few tattoo studios in Japan.
What are some of the most popular ‘Old school’ Japanese tattoo designs
Many traditional Japanese tattoos are big in concept and cover quite large surface areas of the skin. These traditional designs have been handed down through the generations and the artists completing such intricate body art really do have amazing skills.
Each tattoo contains images and symbols that have specific meanings; so, if you are thinking of getting a traditional Japanese tattoo, you will benefit from understanding the ‘motifs’ – design elements – that you will have imprinted on your body for the rest of your life.
Japanese designs are always elegant and will fit the body perfectly. Some styles, including one known as a body suit, will cover your whole body.
What are the meanings of some of the most popular Japanese tattoo designs?
When it comes to selecting which design will suit you, you will find there are a great number of traditional Japanese designs to choose from.
To give you a flavor of what’s on offer let’s take a look at some of the most common Japanese tattoo designs along with a brief description of their meanings.
All of these designs and many more are regularly completed by the experienced ALL DAY Tattoo artists from our studio in Sukhumvit, Bangkok:
- Dragon (Ryu) – In Japanese culture, the dragon is a benign creature and relates to water and the rain. It stands for wisdom, strength, and generosity. Dragons are one of the most popular design elements chosen by clients.
- Koi (Carp) – Koi has the ability to swim against the current and if it reaches the ‘dragon gate’ it will be transformed into a dragon, so it represents determination, courage and a desire for success.
- Lion/Guardian dogs (Shishi/Komainu) – Like tigers, lions are regarded as bold strong, courageous and heroic and are the guardians of shrines.
- Ogre/demon (Oni) – Ogres are very fearsome, and are generally regarded as the symbol of evil. The Queen of hell uses ogres to punish people for their evil doings. There are also good ogres that are a symbol of protection.
- Phoenix (Fushicho) – As in the west, the Japanese phoenix disintegrates into to ashes and then revives itself, representing revival and ultimate victory.
- Skull (Zugaikotsu) – in Japan, the skull represents the cycle of life and death, but in a much more positive light than it does in the West.
- Snake (Hebi) – A snake can be many things – it protects against disasters and misfortunes; it has the wisdom to moderate your decisions; and by shedding its skin, it can cure and revive. It also symbolizes the power of men and the sanctity of women.
- Tiger (Tora) – Tigers are important in Japanese art as they represent strength, courage, and good fortune.
- Flowers (Hana) – There are many different flowers in traditional Japanese art that represent a range of meanings. Here are 6 of the most popular:
Cherry Blossom (Sakura) represents the fragility of human existence – of life itself
Chrysanthemum (Kiku) is a symbol of perfection
Japanese Maple Leaf (Momiji) is a symbol of the passing of time
Lotus (Hasu) is a symbol for enlightenment – an awakening to the meaning of life
Orchid (Ran) means courage, power, and strength
Peony (Boton) means elegance and wealth
Rose (Bara) means eternal love or new start
What are Japanese ‘new school’ tattoos
What on earth is this?
Fans of Japanese traditional style tattoo designs as well as those looking for a unique take on the original form will appreciate the impact that Japanese new school artistry offers.
This unique style looks to turn the traditional design on its head and offers a brighter, more startling appearance.
Japanese new school is the art of combining modern designs with Japanese traditional motifs. The designs take on more exaggerated forms and the colours are much brighter than those seen in old-school traditional Japanese designs.
The lines are often calligraphic and the designs can contain all manner of modern unique patterns, graffiti style jagged edges, bubble lettering, and so on. They are often more cartoony, and some have highly stylized fantasy themes.
In essence, new-school artists don’t stick religiously to traditional designs, and the results can be startling as well as idiosyncratic.
Japanese tattoos at ALL DAY Tattoo in Bangkok
As mentioned early in this piece, there is no need to jump through hoops and fly to Japan in order to get your Japanese tattoo.
The ALL DAY Tattoo studio team have the ability and expertise to deliver exactly what you require whether that be old or new school Japanese tattoo artwork in an authentic Asian setting.
Feel free to message us at the ALL DAY Tattoo Studio in Sukhumvit, Bangkok to meet our team and discuss your ‘dream’ Japanese tattoos with us. You will find us patient, friendly and helpful.
Alternatively, contact us using one of the methods below and our fluent English speaking team will get back to you as quickly as we can.