Japanese tattoo design watercolour

Japanese tattoos

Japanese Tattoos

A brief history

Japanese tattoos originated from Japanese woodblock prints “ukiyo-e” during the edo period In Japan.

Only Samurai were allowed to wear decorative Kimonos so as a form of protest against the feudal system the working class fishermen and firefighters would get tattoos to decorate their bodies instead.

The Tattoo designs where derived from popular folktales at the time that described the adventures of mythical heroes or demons.

In modern tattooing today many of the same techniques are used to achieve visually striking tattoos that can be easily read from far away.

Mainly the use of dark black shading is used to emphasize the main motif and make it stand out from the background.


Some of the most common designs in Japanese tattooing are :


Koi fish


Dragons                     (Ryu)


Snake                      (Hebi)


Tigers                      ( Tora)




Japanese demons  ( Oni )


Nine tailed fox      (Kitsune )


Here are a couple of Japanese sleeve designs by Carl available to be tattooed.


If you’re after a Japanese tattoo we recommend having a look at Carls gallery and setting up a consultation.

watercolour tiger design

Japanese tiger design by Carl Sebastian

watercolour design koi

Japanese koi design By carl at Valhalla tattoo