Japanese Tattoos With The Japanese Dragon

Japanese tattoos are called irezumi. This is an all-encompassing term for all tattoo and body modification methods but is used in the Western sense of being the traditional art of Japan. In this art form, the main attraction is the dragon tattoo. Japanese dragons are one of the most common motifs due to its intricacy and extremely psychedelic appeal.

Rooted in History

There are actually three incarnations of the dragon: The tatsu, the ryu and the doragon. The tatsu is the most traditional among the three, being more akin to water serpents and are spirits which personify rivers and other similar bodies of water. The most famous of these dragons is the Orochi, the eight headed and eight tailed dragon which was slain to gain the Kusanagi, or the Imperial Sword of State.

The ryu is the most familiar one. It is akin to the Chinese dragon, only differing in the fact that the feet of the dragon only have three fingers as opposed to five. This is due to the fact that the dragon’s feet tells of it’s nationality. According to Japan’s tradition, Japan, where dragons originated, makes 3 fingers, Korea makes 4 fingers and China makes 5 fingers. When you go further the dragons get too many fingers to survive. The Chinese believe in the reverse, stating that they lose fingers until they have no more. The doragon, on the other hand, is the Western incarnation.

The Present

Japan’s dragons are personifications of water. This is the main difference between them and the other cultures, which tend to associate dragons with fire. Thus, all depictions are fluid, to the point of being psychedelic in effect. The dazzling colors, and the detail of the scales also add to the effect. They are commonly colored gold, black, white or blue, emphasizing the sea origin. The ultimate testament to this is the Four Dragon Kings which rule over the four seas surrounding Japan.

These dragons also symbolize power. Being one of the Four Celestial Gods, the dragon is a powerful symbol carried in battle. It is said that the dragon emblem is capable of rousing courage. They are also sometimes symbols of agriculture and fertility. Most often, however, they represent the torrential powers of water, placid and calm at first sight but really brutal and savage when angered.

A Unique Patrimony

Japanese tattoos done the traditional way are called irezumi. This involves the use of bamboo flints to pierce the skin and apply the color. While the results are astounding and excellent, this takes a long time to complete, sometimes years for a small area. Thus, most have already adapted the Western practice of using machines. However, the designs are still completely Japan in flavor and motif.

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