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Japanese tattoos are unique, cool, and ultimately very popular tattoo ideas for men. Japanese style tattoos require a specific art form and often represent important parts of Asian culture. Similarly, Asian tattoos with a Japanese-theme can range from traditional to modern.

From a dragon to a snake, flower, bird, tiger, wave, cloud, skull, sun, samurai, or temple, there’s something special about Japanese tattoo designs that make them beautiful. Given how versatile these design ideas are, guys can get them inked large, small, full body, simple, black and white, colorful or tribal – it just depends on your personal preference and the skills of your tattoo artist.

So whether you’re looking for a Japanese sleeve, back, chest, forearm, leg, shoulder, or hand tattoo, there is awesome artwork that fits your body and style. Check out our gallery of the best Japanese tattoos for men to discover new ideas and learn the meanings behind different designs.

Japanese Tattoo

Cool Japanese Tattoo Designs

Today, classic Japanese motifs, designs and art continue to be common sources of inspiration for ink. And while there are many cool Japanese tattoo designs to consider, the fundamental difference between modern and traditional Japanese tattoos stems from how the ink is applied.

Japanese Tattoo Designs

Irezumi describes both the Japanese word for tattoo as well as the verb that conveys the process of inserting ink using wooden handles, metal needles, and silk thread.

Traditional Japanese Tattoo

The tattoo artist then manually injects the ink into the skin. As you can imagine, these traditional Japanese tattoos are very painful and time-consuming to complete.

Japanese Style Tattoos

At one point in Japan, full body tattoos were associated with the Samurai. Later, the Yakuza used sleeve tattoos and other artwork to symbolize membership.

Japanese Sleeve Tattoo

These days, you are far more likely to get a Japanese tattoo with a modern machine, even if the artist is Japanese. The most popular Japanese tattoo ideas are koi fish, dragons, geishas, kabuki masks, cherry blossoms, samurai warriors, ninjas, swords, tigers, and flowers.

Japanese Back Tattoo

Bright colors like red, blue, orange, white, yellow and purple are prevalent in Japanese designs. Other cool designs that complement the main piece include flames, clouds, waves, and other background fillers that give the artistic styling its unique flair.

Asian Tattoos

For the most part, these designs combine black and gray backgrounds with colorful images. This distinct style and look focuses the attention on these symbols of Japanese culture.

Cool Japanese Tattoos

However, some of the best Japanese tattoos come in all black and grey for a masculine look. Although it is worth noting that dark backgrounds require plenty of painful shading.

Black and Grey Japanese Tattoos

When thinking about placement, keep in mind that a Japanese tattoo generally looks good with size because it allows for more detail.

Japanese Tattoo Art

You will commonly see men with two full sleeves, a chest piece that connects to the shoulder and arm, a leg sleeve, a full back of artwork, or a full-body tattoo that stretches from one arm to the other and from the waist to the neck.

Japanese Full Body Tattoo

Though you won’t need to be this extreme (unless that’s your style), you should reserve the entire upper part of your arm, a quadrant of your back, one side of your chest, or your full thigh at a minimum.

Best Japanese Tattoos

Without ample room, the loops, scallops, and edges that make Japanese tattoo designs so iconic won’t be clean, crisp and clear.

Japanese Theme Tattoos

Best Japanese Tattoo Ideas

For many guys, the idea of getting a Japanese tattoo is one that they’ve dreamed about for years. These tattoos do take a very long time to finish – even with modern equipment – and can also be expensive to get.

Japanese Tattoo Ideas

Nonetheless, if you view your ink as an investment and you’re looking for some inspiration, here are the top 125 best Japanese tattoos for men.

Japanese Tiger Tattoo

Japanese Wave Tattoo

Japanese Snake Tattoo

Japanese Style Tattoo Designs

Japanese Shoulder Tattoo

Japanese Samurai Warrior Tattoo

Japanese Koi Fish Tattoo Designs

Japanese Oni Mask Tattoo

Small Japanese Tattoos

Japanese Geisha Sleeve Tattoos

Japanese Word Tattoo

Japanese Tribal Tattoo

Japanese Hand Tattoo

Japanese Half Sleeve Tattoo

Japanese Oni Demon Mask Tattoo

Oriental Japanese Tattoo Designs

Traditional Japanese Samurai Warrior Tattoo Design

Modern Japanese Tattoo Ideas For Guys

Traditional Japanese Full Body Tattoos

Japanese Full Sleeve Tattoo

Japanese Arm Tattoo

Japanese Full Chest Demon Tattoo

Classic Japanese Shoulder Tattoo

Japanese Half Sleeve Dragon Tattoo Designs

Japanese Forearm Tattoo

Japanese Dragon Back Tattoo

Japanese Cloud Tattoo

Japanese Full Sleeve Tattoo Designs

Japanese Full Body Tattoo Designs

Cool Japanese Leg Sleeve Tattoo

Japanese Flower Tattoo

Japanese Leg Sleeve

Colorful Japanese Crane Bird Tattoo

Japanese Samurai Mask Tattoo on Chest

Awesome Japanese Full Sleeve Tattoo Designs

Japanese Rising Sun with Dragon Tattoo

Japanese Samurai Mask Tattoo

Japanese Samurai Tattoo

Badass Japanese Tattoos For Men

Japanese Skull Tattoo

Japanese Samurai Tattoo Designs

Black Samurai with Dragon Arm Chest Tattoo

Best Japanese Tattoo Designs For Men

Erizumi Japanese Tiger Tattoo

Cool Japanese Flower Chest Tattoo

Cool Japanese Tiger Sleeve Tattoo

Traditional Japanese Black and White Chest Tattoo

Japanese Koi Fish Tattoo Design Ideas

Japanese Half Sleeve Shoulder Chest Tattoo

Japanese Koi Fish Tattoo Designs For Men

Japanese Full Leg Sleeve Tattoo Ideas

Japanese Samurai Shoulder Tattoo

Japanese Snake Back Tattoo

Japanese Dragon Full Sleeve Chest Tattoo

Japanese Temple Tattoo

Japanese Thigh Tattoo

Japanese Chest Half Sleeve Tattoo

Japanese Upper Arm Tattoo

Cool Japanese Back Tattoo

Japanese Wave Tattoo Designs

Cool Japanese Dragon Chest Tattoo

Creative Japanese Full Sleeve Tattoo Ideas

Colorful Japanese Flower Tattoo

Japanese Shoulder Chest Tattoo

Traditional Japanese Geisha Back Piece Tattoo

Traditional Japanese Full Back Dragon Tattoo Designs

Awesome Traditional Japanese Tattoo Designs

Traditional Japanese Style Chest Tattoo

Traditional Japanese Full Back Piece Tattoo Designs

Simple Japanese Word Tattoo Ideas

Traditional Japanese Arm Tattoo Designs

Simple Japanese Tattoo

Traditional Japanese Kabuki Demon Mask Tattoo

Badass Japanese Full Body Tattoo Ideas

Japanese Back Tattoo Designs

Traditional Japanese Samurai Mask Tattoo

Cool Japanese Half Sleeve

Creative Japanese Severed Head Geisha Tattoo

Cool Sleeve Japanese Tattoo Designs

Traditional Japanese Water Wave Tattoo Designs

Cool Traditional Leg Tattoo Designs

Traditional Japanese Style Back Tattoo

Awesome Asian Koi Fish Tattoo Ideas

Best Japanese Half Sleeve Tattoo Ideas

Best Japanese Tattoo Ideas For Guys

Best Oriental Tattoo Designs

Black and White Japanese Chest Flower Tattoo

Cool Asian Tattoo Ideas Full Sleeve

Japanese Back Dragon Tattoo Designs

Japanese Dragon Side Tattoo

Top Men's Japanese Full Sleeve Tattoo Designs

Asian Moon Tattoo

Awesome Japanese Style Tattoo Designs

Awesome Men's Japanese Tattoo Designs

Best Japanese Arm Tattoo Ideas

Best Japanese Demon Mask Tattoo

Black and Grey Japanese Dragon Demon Chest Shoulder Tattoo

Colorful Modern Japanese Dragon Tattoo For Guys

Cool Japanese Chrysanthemum Chest Half Sleeve Tattoo

Cool Japanese Cloud Tattoo Designs For Men

Cool Japanese Samurai Warrior Tattoo on Calf

Cool Japanese Theme Snake Tattoo

Half Sleeve Japanese Tiger Tattoo

Japanese Arm Tattoo Designs For Men

Japanese Dragon Tattoo on Arm

Japanese Samurai Skull Back Tattoo

Japanese Tribal Tattoo Designs For Men

Japanese Shoulder Tattoo Ideas For Men

Modern Japanese Tattoo Designs

Japanese Shoulder Samurai Sun Tattoo

Japanese Tattoo Meanings

Understanding traditional Japanese tattoo meanings is crucial to picking the right theme and symbols for your design. Here is a complete guide to the meaning of different concepts in Asian culture.

Japanese Tattoo Meanings

  • Dragon: wisdom, strength, ferocity, force of good, protector
  • Tiger: strength, protector against evil spirits and bad luck, courage,
  • Snake: wisdom, luck, change, protection, prophecy
  • Wave or Water: life, movement, change, strength, adaptability
  • Sun: new life, divinity, knowledge, energy, courage, guardian, wisdom
  • Temple: spirituality, growth, connection with nature, respect
  • Samurai: the way of the warrior (Bushido), honor, courage, loyalty, virtue
  • Phoenix: rebirth, immortality, fire, life and death, resurrection
  • Koi Fish: commitment, strength, ambition, courage, masculinity
  • Fu Dog or Lion: good luck, power, health, wealth, strength, courage
  • Skull: change, life and death, respect for the dead
  • Oni Mask or Demon: good and evil, protection against evil spirits, demons
  • Cherry Blossom: life, beauty, appreciation
  • Severed Head: courage, fearlessness, respect for one’s enemies, honor
  • Peony: wealth, prosperity, elegance, nobility
  • Geisha: beauty, elegance, sexuality, aspirations, desire, grace, femininity, mystery
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