Ideas for Japanese Dragon & Koi Fish Tattoos

Written by simon fuller
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Ideas for Japanese Dragon & Koi Fish Tattoos
Japanese dragons and koi fish are iconic images. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

The dragon and the koi fish are two creatures that have a potent and somewhat mythical status in Japan, and as a result, are popular choices for tattoo designs. The dragon is said to symbolise power and the protection of an individual's family, while a koi fish represents strength and an individual overcoming a struggle. Though both creatures are often associated with the male, both men and women wear dragon and koi fish tattoo designs.

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Traditional Koi Fish

One of the most traditional and easily recognisable koi fish designs features an orange-coloured koi, swimming within blue water. Often, the fish is depicted as swimming against the tide to symbolise struggle against tough times or an adverse situation, and the water itself is shown as being tumultuous and dangerous.

Cherry Blossoms and Lotuses

Koi fish designs can be surrounded by other components to create a multifaceted tattoo. A popular choice for a design to accompany a koi fish is that of the cherry blossom, a flower found in both Asia and Europe. Typically, the cherry blossom is depicted as a vinelike plant that reaches around the skin in places such as the ankles or shoulder. Another common accompaniment to a koi fish is a lotus design.

Koi Lively Colors

In terms of colours, koi fish exist in many varieties, and often individuals take inspiration from these when it comes to tattoo designs. Many koi fish designs feature lively colours, such as a mixture of red, black and white, which reflect the fact that these animals tend to be very energetic. An individual who wants to symbolise Japanese national pride can opt instead for a white koi fish design, with one red spot on its head.

Dragon Combinations

Japanese dragon tattoos are commonly placed in combination with the koi fish. A major reason for this, besides that the design might look aesthetically pleasing, is that in Japanese mythology, a koi fish reached the legendary Dragon Gate and there transformed into a dragon; an individual might also have a koi design on his leg, for example, and a dragon on his back. Elements such as fire, clouds and yin-yang symbols are also sometimes incorporated into dragon designs.

Dragon Positions

Japanese dragons can occupy a range of locations on the body, but one of the most popular positions is nicknamed the half-sleeve; the tattoo is inked around the individual's upper arm and the dragon's head appears near the heart. Dragons also appear across legs and arms, and in large designs that occupy the entirety of an individual's back.

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