20 Yakuza Tattoos and Their Symbolic Meaning ! (2022)

Why get a tattoo when you can get an entire bodysuit? Yakuza-designed tattoos are the most prevalent culture all over Japan. This article will look at the meanings of these Yakuza tattoos and appreciate their beauty and symbolism.

Yakuza tattoos are a cryptic language, even to the Japanese themselves. Yet, there are seemingly no barriers when it comes to their designs or their meanings. We put together a list of the top 20 yakuza tattoos and the deep meaning behind them. Yakuza are Japanese mafia members who use elaborate tattoos to form bonds in their violently organized crime rings. These symbolic body markings are done with precision, pain tolerance, and love, making for an incredibly rich tattoo tradition that goes back centuries.

So, here we’ve compiled The Top 20 Yakuza Tattoos and Yakuza Tattoo Meaning here to give you an insight into what some of these might mean and where on your body they might be found.

20. Cat Tattoo

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One of my most favorite Japanese Yakuza Tattoos is Cat Tattoo. We are all familiar with the fact that cats often have good fortune and wealth and thus create great tattoos. There are different methods of designing your Yakuza Tattoos, and while some people choose the more traditional approach, others may choose things they like about the Japanese culture, like cats. From food to dress to tattoo style, this could be anything. It is essential that your conceptions are not offensive and that sacred and religious imagination is always best prevented, and a cat tattoo is one of the best choices.

19. Dragon Tattoo

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Our next Tattoo is Yakuza Dragon Tattoo. In Japan, dragons are seen in a way other than the West. The Japanese regard dragons as protectors of the human race. The tattoos of dragons represent courage, clarity, and endurance. Schwarz dragons are compared to know-how and illumination. Green dragons are related to nature, and gold dragons are a mixture of virtues. The blue and human, generous dragons are tender, while the yellow is dignified partners. That’s why this Japanese Yakuza Tattoo is the most popular all over the world.

18. Phoenix

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A Phoenix Tattoo is often linked to birth, death, and rebirth and is one of the most prominent Japanese Yakuza tattoos. The Japanese phoenix, called Hou-ou, is a mythical creature of fire, justice, and power. It was also done to renovate homes, and people who lived there are thought to be honest and loyal. Therefore, it’s one of the most memorable and beautiful birds rich in symbolization to be inked. In Japan, a myth of the phoenix, like many other features of Japanese culture, was found in China.

(Video) Comparison: Dangerous Tattoos and Their Meanings 2

17. Snake Tattoo

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The Snake tattoo in Japan has several connotations. First, it is a symbol of renewable strength and health. Second, snacks are linked with knowledge, divination, and powers of the cosmos in Japanese legends. Third, they also symbolize the spiritual characteristics of the female and can symbolically avoid disease and misfortune. Finally, in China’s zodiac, scholars and sophists are born during the year of the snake, the intelligent lot with a strong headstrong. That’s why we put this Japan Yakuza Tattoo on our list.

16. Samurai Tattoos

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Now, moving on to our next famous Japanese Yakuza Tattoo is Samurai, literally meaning ‘the warrior‘ precisely denoting the Bushido’s principles. The code highlights honor, courage, integrity, and good execution. It has its profound roots in the Buddhist and Confucian principles. Yakuza has accepted Bushido’s many opinions and recognizes itself as guardians of ancient Japanese tradition. A close reading of the chronicle of Yakuza, however, shows that this is wrong. The early Yakuza were opponents of or had very suspicious connections to the samurai.

15. Cherry Blossom Designs

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Our next Yakuza back Tattoo, Cherry blossoms (“sakura”), are deeply remarkable in Japanese culture. Their ephemeral nature and short lifespan mean life itself, which is little more than the grazing in a quickly swirling river in classical Japanese dogma. Once the sakura is drawn from the tree, breeze and rainfall spread out, and from that time disappear from the earth’s surface. The Japanese celebrate hanami every year (Flower Views), a lifetime celebration where colleagues and people get together and waste a little while savoring outstanding spring sakura. Sakura tattoos somehow describe that while life is gone, it is still full of beauty and color.

14. Oni Mask

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Oni Mask is also most prevalent in the category of Japanese Yakuza Tattoos. They are ogres or fiends that punish the minister gravely. These are huge, terrifying, usually red or blue skin, uncompromising white hair, and fangs. They operate large, spiky clubs that can change at will, lead to disease, madness, and death. Their ideal diet is made up of the human body. The oni mask tattoo thus exemplifies the application and discipline of behavior. Oni is perceived to intimidate villages, degenerate into society, and is recognized as a reincarnation of the especially malicious, yakuza-like.

13. Demon Tattoo

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(Video) Secrets of the Yakuza's Tattoo

Our Yakuza tattoo for demons may not be an attractive design for all, but it does have an extremely interesting meaning. Such a different Demon represented in Japanese folklore is the most popular Tattoo in the world. Your ink portrays the balance between good and evil, and it may remind you that harmful activities will not go unpunished. It is also possible that the wearer wants to intimidate others with their bodywork and impression of being unaffected. The pieces are also exceptionally detailed and often feature cherry flowers or a snake, which are decorated in a statement.

12. Crane Tattoo

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The crane in Japan is very important and symbolizes peace and hope. So, this Japanese Yakuza Tattoo is also considered a worldwide creature, is respected and admired profoundly, and is the subject of interesting legends. The bird brings fortune and luck, but also longevity and wisdom. The design is usually detailed, and other images like a sun or flora can be included. Therefore, a placement option with sufficient space is required for this information. As you often see, the arm or the thigh are great spots, but you have more scope to create audacious and colored art.

11. Japanese Women Tattoo

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Our next Japanese Yakuza tattoo is the Japanese Women Tattoo which Geishas embrace. They have an important Japanese history and are often linked with appeal, femininity, and grace. An ink for both men and women represents perfection, respect, and intense beauty. A tattoo of a geisha or Japanese woman is styled as a single one. It is also observed as a sign of the culture of Japan. The back is a popular placement option to allow sufficient space for most of these pieces. Depending on the significance, you may add other images such as cherry blossoms or a samurai.

10. Peony Flower

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Inspired by the Japanese traditional art, Japan Yakuza Tattoo, Peony flower is a strong and elegant tattoo design. The black and grey arrangement of lines and dots gives this Tattoo the feel of a colorful piece. The peony or botanical flowers represent plenty, dignity, and fulfillment. The peony is appreciated as the King of Flowers in Japan. It thus may represent a male and carefree attitude, as opposed to its physical beauty and identification with feminine grace.

9. Floral Tattoo

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Moving on to our next Yakuza Tattoo, Floral Tattoo represents the Imperial Family in Japan. The stellar flora with the petals scattered like flames is supposed to bring fortune in life. The core of the flower shows the social rank of the emperor in the center of everything. The Tattoo is durable and satisfying. In Irezumi (Japanese Yakuza Tattoos), flowers often surface in large and complex tattoos with other subjects. In such compositions, chrysanthemums usually appear next to dragons.

(Video) Comparison: Secret Tattoo Meanings

8. Momiji or Maple

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Momiji is another Yakuza back tattoo design of Japanese style for men or women. This inspired us to create a theme for you guys in yakuza style. It usually has various meanings, but it also relates to the meaning of life. There are usually some colorful geometric lines in Momiji and symbols, and they are quite playful and intriguing. For example, the leaves of the maple (“Momiji”) show the passage of time. Typically, these tattoos represent the leaves tangled into the brisk or drift into the waters, describing people caught in time. The seasonally changing leaves also symbolize the life sequence.

7. Lotus

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Moving on to our next Japanese yakuza tattoo is Lotus. The lotus is intimately linked to Buddhist teaching. In Japan, the flora means the life strains on the way to its full potential. The flora springs on the ground of a pond and slowly flow out to the outside. The blooming lotus tattoo symbolizes spiritual resurrection and the metaphorical journey through the muck of life towards a wider realm of life. This is quite different from the Floral Tattoo, as discussed above; although it’s a type of Flower, both have different yakuza tattoo meanings.

6. Sun Tattoo

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Our next and most infamous Yakuza Tattoos is Sun design. The rising sun of Japan, the bold red design, symbolizes divinity, courage, and life, used in flags. For some, this is a symbol of the country. There are many different designs, some with warriors and some with waves or temples. It’s a very controversial picture, however. This design can be unbelievably offensive for certain people. It was used as a military flag and represented a very dark part of history for countries that were invaded during this period.

5. Skull Tattoo

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Skull Tattoo is one of the most fascinating Yakuza Tattoos in Japan. Yet, this subculture is aimed at a specific group of people, or should we say, women? When you consider the thought, the whole taboo idea of the Tattoo is a little weird. Nevertheless, Japanese skull tattoos are meant to represent the natural cycle of life positively. Furthermore, the Japanese skull tattoo traditionally expresses a development insight since death is a man’s biggest advance.

4. Koi Fish

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(Video) Dangerous Tattoos That Can Get You Into Serious Trouble

Koi Fish is a common Japanese Yakuza tattoo, usually linked to good fate and prosperity. In Japanese legends, the Koi can overcome cascades and move against a heavy tide. Koi thus exemplifies resolution and is usually used to mean that a person has experienced unfortunate events. It’s all about black Koi. The Red Koi refers to some sort of love, typically strong and energetic like the cordial relationships of the yakuza brotherhood. Blue Koi is reproductive representatives and are considered to be extremely male.

3. Couple Samurai

Now, let’s open your door to the world of your next favorite Japanese tattoos. Yes, it is a Couple of Samurai Yakuza Tattoos. Samurai are the high-class and well-disciplined combatants in Japan whose purpose is to guard their people, culture, and territory. The samurai Yakuza tattoo is probably one of the most interesting Western-style yakuza tattoos. The samurai Yakuza tattoo, which is sometimes the hiatus-me (literally, one point) yakuza tattoo worn on the back of the hand with its sweeping lines and scroll, began to appear in earnest during the mid-90s, and it has since flourished.

2. The Foo Dog

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The Foo Dog Yakuza Tattoo is a highlighting Japanese art, tattoos, and Yakuza culture. We scour the country for tattoos and images that tell their own story or remind us of the grit of old Japan. There is great power in the mystical Foo Dog. The Foo Dog Yakuza tattoo is a Chinese philosophy that has been carried out as a way of life by the toughest and strongest individuals. The Foo Dog Yakuza Tattoo has been brought to the United States by tattoo artist Mike Tyson. This Tattoo is used by several gangs and other tough characters as a form of protection and intimidation.

1. Shark Fish Tattoo

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So, Our favorite and leading Japanese Yakuza Tattoo is Shark Fish Tattoo. Shark Fish Yakuza Tattoo lovers often apply it on their body skin. It’s interesting to hear about the Shark Fish as a Yakuza because it is our favorite too…! This translucent, winged sea creature has a fierce maw filled with sharp teeth. This Tattoo is an ancient representation of a shark fish and was once an effective deterrent against drowning enemies. Some stories even claim that matching shark fish yakuza tattoos could give you magical power. Like Koi fish, the shark is a very important water animal. It stands for courage, strength, and passion.

Conclusion!

Choosing the right Tattoo is very important. That’s why we’ve completed this list of The Top 20 Yakuza Tattoos and Their Symbolic Meaning to help you make an informed decision. In addition, we’ve broken down the meaning behind each design, so you can carry your new Tattoo with pride for years to come. We hope we will help out in choosing the best one for you!!

FAQs

What do the tattoos in Yakuza mean? ›

They're instead a "very personal depiction" of a scene from the yakuza member's life, or something symbolically important to them - which is meant to show people the attributes that person is known for.

What does a HOJU tattoo mean? ›

Believed to be a wish fulfilling jewel and a bringer of good health, the hoju is often depicted as an orb with a pointed top and is occasionally surrounded by flames. The hoju likewise has strong ties to Buddhism and three hoju together are said to represent the three jewels of Buddhism; Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.

What does Nishiki's tattoo mean? ›

Akira Nishikiyama

Screenshot: Sega (閒事) The koi symbolizes strength and bravery. The fish is closely connected to the dragon, because there's a legend about koi swimming up the Yellow River in China, passing through the rapids known as the “Dragon's Gate,” and turning into a dragon.

What do Yakuza call their tattoos? ›

The Yakuza's Irezumi [刺青 tattoo] became an integral part of Japanese culture. The Pre-Edo period tells a story about it being used to identify criminals.

Why do yakuza cut off pinky? ›

In Japan, a stunted pinkie signifies membership in the yakuza, or Japanese mafia. In a ritual known as "yubitsume," yakuza members are required to chop off their own digits to atone for serious offenses. The left pinkie is usually the first to go, though repeated offenses call for further severing.

Are there female yakuza? ›

The Yakuza is populated almost entirely by men and the very few women who are acknowledged are the wives of bosses, who are referred to by the title ane-san (姐さん, older sister).

What does a Namakubi tattoo mean? ›

Namakubi or severed head tattoo is one of the classic motives in Japanese tattooing tradition, stemming from the warrior class of feudal Japan. They can have different meanings, like respect for your enemy, courage, and fearlessness, but one of the most common would be accepting one's fate with honor and dignity.

Is it illegal to have a Yakuza tattoo? ›

Although they may not be illegal, tattoos are often associated with the Yakuza, a Japanese gang that covers their entire body with tattoos.

Are the Yakuza friendly? ›

The yakuza have done their best to portray a noble image within the public sphere. They dress nicely, are respectful and talk politely – when not trying to make money. Violence for the most part happens between gang branches or non-yakuza gangs within Japan.

What is Kuze tattoo? ›

Tattoo. Kuze's tattoo depicts Enma WP , the judge and ruler of Hell on his back, while the guardians of Hell, Gozu (Ox-Head) and Mezu (Horse-Face) adorn his left and right upper arms respectively.

What is Ichiban's tattoo? ›

Ichiban's tattoo is a 龍魚 "ryuugyo" (lit. dragon-fish), a dragon-like Japanese cryptid fish. Cryptid refers to a class of animals existing in cryptozoology (think Loch Ness or Kraken).

What is Tsuneo Iwami tattoo? ›

Tattoo. Tsuneo has a Bai Ze tattoo on his back.

What is the Yakuza code? ›

The Yakuza Code of Ethics prohibits anything that may be considered an indecent act, or an act that goes against Ninkyodo (Chivalry). Reasoning - The Yakuza were known as the chivalrous organization of their community. The whole purpose of the Yakuza was to serve their own form of justice.

Can you leave the Yakuza? ›

Unfortunately, no such pathways to reintegration currently exist. Social acceptance is unattainable for most who renounce their membership in organized crime groups. As a result, they have no option but to resort to illegal activity to survive. I witnessed this myself during my study of ex-yakuza.

What animal represents the Yakuza? ›

A common Yakuza tattoo, the koi fish represents good luck and fortune in life. In an old Japanese legend, the koi fish was able to swim over a waterfall. Therefore, it also symbolizes great strength and perseverance in the goals you are working towards in life.

What do yakuza call their boss? ›

The leader of any gang or conglomerate of yakuza is known as the oyabun (“boss”; literally “parent status”), and the followers are known as kobun (“protégés,” or “apprentices”; literally “child status”).

Can non Japanese Be yakuza? ›

A gaijin in the organisation? Straight away, the strangest thing is that a foreigner – a gaijin – gets to become a member of a Yakuza family. Not only that, but Lowell quickly rises to become a member with key responsibilities – at one point he becomes the main boss's bodyguard.

What is the yakuza initiation? ›

The initiation ritual for a new recruit is a ceremony based around sake, known as sakazukigoto. The initiate sits opposite his oyabun, or “father role,” while the drink is prepared by other members. The newcomer gets a smaller portion while his sponsor's cup is filled to the brim, a reflection of their status.

What do yakuza wives do? ›

Unlike Western mafia wives, Yakuza wives remain outside the sphere of criminal activity. Although the women play a vital role in running the clan – managing finances, resolving quarrels and providing emotional support – they are barred from being active participants or formal members.

What do you call a yakuza boss wife? ›

The boss's wife is often called anesan (姉さん – older sister).

Who is the leader of the yakuza? ›

Kenichi Shinoda
Kenichi Shinoda 篠田建市
BornJanuary 25, 1942 Ōita, Ōita Prefecture, Japan
Other names司 忍 Shinobu Tsukasa

What does cherry blossom tattoo mean? ›

It symbolizes Japanese beauty and pride, but it is also associated with life, impermanence, and love. For many, a cherry blossom tattoo is a reminder of how nothing lasts forever and encourages the wearer to celebrate each day.

What does a knife tattoo symbolize? ›

Having a dagger tattoo can represent both virtuous qualities within ourselves and also any adversity we may experience in life; the biggest of all being death. Not only is a dagger a representation of betrayal, loss and danger but it is also seen as a symbol of protection, sacrifice and bravery.

What does a hannya mask symbolize? ›

The hannya (般若) mask is a mask used in Japanese Noh theater, representing a jealous female demon. It is characterized by two sharp bull-like horns, metallic eyes, and a leering mouth.

What tattoos are banned in Japan? ›

Today we are answering the question, “Are tattoos allowed in Japan?” Actually, tattoos are fine in Japan. They're not illegal in any way. You may even see some people walking around with fashion tattoos, especially in Tokyo.

How do you become a member of Yakuza? ›

When a kobun receives sake from an oyabun, they have officially passed their initiation into their yakuza family. At this point they're ranked in a similar way to older or younger brothers. They're also required to cut ties to their real family and swear allegiance to their local boss.

Can tourists get tattoos in Japan? ›

Some places in Japan happily welcome tattooed tourists. For those with obvious and huge tattoos that are impossible to cover or those who are not fond of hiding their body art, do not worry because there are some sites that provide comprehensive lists of tattoo-friendly onsen and sento.

Was there ever a white yakuza? ›

However, there's no apparent modern or historical basis for a white American being accepted into the yakuza, with the film's synopsis having little understanding of how the crime syndicates work.

How do you recognize yakuza? ›

For the Yakuza, tattoos are used to recognize members, demonstrate commitment, and boast about their wealth. They are designed using an extremely painful process called irezumi, in which the tattoos are hand-poked.

What are the yakuza rules? ›

Your Five-Point Guide to the Yakuza Code of Ethics
  • Treat your 'oyabun' with respect. ...
  • Don't steal from the everyday man. ...
  • Don't disrupt the harmony of the gang or touch the partner of a fellow member. ...
  • Never involve yourself with drugs. ...
  • Always act chivalrously.
22 Aug 2017

How old is Kiryu? ›

Yakuza 0. At the time of Yakuza 0, Kiryu is 20 years old and is working as a debt collector for the Dojima Family. The main plot of the game is triggered by the murder of a man in the Empty Lot.

What color is Kiryu's dragon? ›

Ferocious and brave protectors, dragons are typically associated with hot-tempered individuals, though Kiryu's silver-colored dragon also suggests purity of heart.

Why are Yakuza tattoos empty in the middle? ›

They believe that tattoos are private, and so they'll commit to full body suits that can't be seen above any collars or cuffs. In this way, the humility of Japanese society has restrained tattoo culture from interrupting public life.

Who did Kiryu's tattoo? ›

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, Utabori inked Kazuma Kiryu's and Akira Nishikiyama's yakuza full-back-piece tattoos.

Who did Ichibans tattoo? ›

Only the outlines of the tattoo are filled in up until Chapter 21, but it is seen in its completed state in the rest of the game. Utabori is the tattoo artist who designed Kasuga's dragonfish, and he incorporated elements from both Kazuma Kiryu and Akira Nishikiyama's tattoos in its design.

Why does Nishiki have the koi tattoo? ›

His tattoo represents his ambition to climb the ranks of the Tojo Clan, as in Japanese mythology, the Koi must swim up a waterfall through the dragon's gate to turn into a dragon.

What is the secret of Onomichi? ›

Realizing that Hirose had been killing anyone connected to the "Secret", Kiryu returns to Onomichi to confront him; the secret is revealed to be aYamato-class battleship intended for use against the American occupation forces, built illegally by Iwami Shipbuilding.

Who made the yakuza tattoos? ›

To coincide with the release of Yakuza 3 (in shops today!), I wanted to give you a peek into the world of Horitomo (real name Kazuaki Kitamura), real-life tattoo artist, whose designs have been used in all the Yakuza games.

Who is the antagonist of Yakuza 4? ›

Seishiro Munakata (宗像 征四郎, Munakata Seishirō) is the main antagonist and final boss of Yakuza 4.

Is it illegal to have a yakuza tattoo? ›

Although they may not be illegal, tattoos are often associated with the Yakuza, a Japanese gang that covers their entire body with tattoos.

Why are yakuza tattoos empty in the middle? ›

Yakuza tattoos, although they cover most of the body, always stop at the wrist, ankle, and neck. Additionally, there is usually a strip on non-tattooed area going down the middle of the chest. The tattoos were designed this way so that they could be easily concealed under a kimono.

What do Oni mask tattoos mean? ›

An Oni mask is used in the Japanese culture and is a common tattoo choice for those who believe in good and evil forces, as well as different power that surrounds us. This mask is a symbol of protection for those who believe in the spiritual world.

What is Goro Majima tattoo? ›

Tattoo. Majima's tattoo covers his biceps and upper chest, stretching from his neck to the back of his thighs. It consists of a floral motif (similar to Shimano's), with a Hannya on his back and twin snakes wrapped around his arms and chest.

What is the Yakuza code? ›

The Yakuza Code of Ethics prohibits anything that may be considered an indecent act, or an act that goes against Ninkyodo (Chivalry). Reasoning - The Yakuza were known as the chivalrous organization of their community. The whole purpose of the Yakuza was to serve their own form of justice.

What tattoos are banned in Japan? ›

Today we are answering the question, “Are tattoos allowed in Japan?” Actually, tattoos are fine in Japan. They're not illegal in any way. You may even see some people walking around with fashion tattoos, especially in Tokyo.

Can non Yakuza members get Yakuza tattoos? ›

The Yakuza are a collection of feared Japanese mafia groups with a history dating back to at least the 19th century. Like most gangs, they live a life of crime. Unlike most gangs, they inspired the unique Yakuza tattoo style that persists today for members and nonmembers alike.

How do you become a Yakuza? ›

When a kobun receives sake from an oyabun, they have officially passed their initiation into their yakuza family. At this point they're ranked in a similar way to older or younger brothers. They're also required to cut ties to their real family and swear allegiance to their local boss.

Why is Yakuza allowed in Japan? ›

Throughout the years, the Yakuza has kept a strict code of honor. This has allowed them to remain quasi-legal as the authorities are aware that their code of honor keeps them from disrupting public order. There are currently close to 100,000 members and have a large presence in Japan.

What does Oni irezumi mean? ›

Oni (Demon)

In general, oni are fearsome supernatural creatures, they have been described variously as guardians of Buddhist hell, demons who act as torturers there, carrying out the punishment given by the queen of hell to the convicted souls that find themselves being judged for the evil deeds in life.

What does a Tengu tattoo mean? ›

According to traditional meanings, a tengu tattoo is meant to serve as a reminder to the wearer to remain true to the code of Bushido. The tattoo is meant to keep the bearer on the virtuous path. The tengu tattoo in this form was meant to represent a commitment to virtues such as honor, loyalty, duty, and courage.

What does a kitsune tattoo mean? ›

The word “kitsune” in Japanese tattoo culture means fox, and the animal itself is an integral part of the culture and mythology of Japan. Represented as intelligent and wise beings with a penchant for shapeshifting, the kitsune retains the Native American folklore of being a trickster or illusionist.

What does a katana tattoo symbolize? ›

Katana tattoos allow wearers to carry this truly beautiful symbol of protection, power and strength with them for the rest of their lives, wherever they go, and in any state of dress.

What is Kuze tattoo? ›

Tattoo. Kuze's tattoo depicts Enma WP , the judge and ruler of Hell on his back, while the guardians of Hell, Gozu (Ox-Head) and Mezu (Horse-Face) adorn his left and right upper arms respectively.

What is Ichiban's tattoo? ›

Ichiban's tattoo is a 龍魚 "ryuugyo" (lit. dragon-fish), a dragon-like Japanese cryptid fish. Cryptid refers to a class of animals existing in cryptozoology (think Loch Ness or Kraken).

Is tattoo illegal in Japan? ›

While tattoos are not illegal in Japan, the social stigma against them is very strong. Those with them are commonly banned from beaches, gyms and pools. TOKYO, Japan — Taboo in much of Tokyo, tattoos are everywhere at the Olympics.

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