Japanese Water Tattoo Ideas

Written by amber decourcy
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Japanese Water Tattoo Ideas
Famous works of Japanese art can make interesting tattoos. (Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Water has been a major part of the Japanese culture for centuries and has been the focal point of many pieces of artwork. Water brings on a sense of calm and tranquillity, but also can stir excitement. Water tattoos, especially in the Japanese style, are growing in popularity and can hold a significant meaning to the owner of the tattoo.

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Koi Fish

Striking orange, white and black koi fish, spotted or solid-coloured, can be found in ponds and streams all over Japan and are seen as a sign of good luck. Koi are a type of carp fish that have been inbred over generations, giving them the bright, stunning colours they exhibit today. Tattoos with koi fish usually have koi swimming against a strong tide of water, which carp are strong enough to do. Koi tattoos are often seen with lotus flowers and cherry blossoms, also loved by the Japanese.


A sign of strength or devastation, tsunamis are a marvel to be feared. Towering waves over fishermen's boats or shorelines have been the subject of many Japanese artworks and have begun to show up in Japanese water tattoos. "Beneath the Wave of Kanagawa" is a popular woodblock print by the artist Katsushika Hokusai, and tattoos based upon the famous print make a bold statement when turned into a water tattoo.

Water Dragons

Dragons are a major part of Japanese culture and are seen as benevolent creatures thought to bring wealth and good luck. Although dragons stand for the element of wood, a little imagination can turn the beauty and mystery of the dragon into a water-dwelling creature. Dragon tattoos can also tie in with a tsunami theme, since they have tumultuous and dark connotations. The typical Eastern dragon with a long body twisted in circles can be transformed into rolling waves, much like those seen in paintings of tsunamis.

Kanji Writing

One of the more popular tattoo themes, Kanji, a type of Japanese writing, are more ornate in appearance than other types of Japanese writing, Katakana and Hiragana. While Katakana characters are used to write out foreign words and names, and Hiragana characters are used to write grammatical words and adjectives, Kanji symbols represent nouns such as "flower," "fish" or even "peace." Using a Kanji word that stands for water could make an interesting and fanciful script tattoo that can typically be finished in one visit to the tattoo parlour.

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