Hi readers! Just wanted to make this blog for collectors who want to know the stories behind the images of Japanese tattooing. This is something I have been studying for years now and my good friend Ishi, a tattooist from Nagoya Japan, has been teaching me everything from folklore to traditional japanese tattoo technique. I will be doing other styles of tattooing still, but i want to put my research to use and provide some cool ideas and stories for collectors who want something authentic Japanese style tattooed by me.
Japanese dragons are diverse legendary creatures in Japanese mythology and folklore. Japanese dragon myths amalgamate native legends with imported stories about dragons from China, Korea and India. The style of the dragon was heavily influenced by the Chinese dragon. Like these other Asian dragons, most Japanese ones are water deities associated with rainfall and bodies of water, and are typically depicted as large, wingless, serpentine creatures with clawed feet. The modern Japanese language has numerous "dragon" words, including indigenous tatsu from Old Japanese ta-tu, Sino-Japanese ryū or ryō 竜 from Chinese lóng 龍, nāga ナーガ from Sanskrit nāga, and doragon ドラゴン from English dragon.
The word koi comes from Japanese, simply meaning "carp". It includes both the dull grey fish and the brightly colored varieties. What are known as koi in English are referred to more specifically as nishikigoi in Japan (literally meaning "brocaded carp"). In Japanese, "koi" is a homophone for another word that means "affection" or "love"; koi are therefore symbols of love and friendship in Japan. An example of this can be seen in the short story by Mukōda Kuniko, "Koi-san". Koi tattoos have also become a popular trend throughout the world.
(妖怪, literally demon, spirit, or monster) are a class of supernatural creatures in Japanese folklore ranging from the evil oni (ogre) to the mischievous kitsune (fox) or snow woman Yuki-onna. Some possess part animal and part human features (e.g. Kappa and Tengu). Yōkai generally have a sort of spiritual or supernatural power. Yōkai that have the ability to shape-shift are called obake. The characters "妖怪" are borrowed from China, which has a similar folkloric tradition of yaoguai. Japanese folklorists and historians use yōkai as "supernatural or unaccountable phenomena to their informants". In the Edo period, many artists, such as Toriyama Sekien, created yōkai inspired by folklore or their own ideas, and in the present, several yōkai created by them (e.g. Kameosa and Amikiri, see below) are wrongly considered as being of legendary origin.
TsukumogamiTsukumogami are an entire class of yōkai and obake, comprising ordinary household items that have come to life on the one-hundredth anniversary of their birthday. This virtually unlimited classification includes Bakezouri (straw sandals), Karakasa (old umbrellas), Kameosa (old sake jars), and Morinji-no-kama (tea kettles).
A good number of animals that are thought to have magic of their own can be found in Japan. Most of these are henge (変化), shapeshifters, which often imitate humans, mostly women. Some of the better known animal yōkai include the following:
- Tanuki (raccoon dog)
- Kitsune (foxes)
- Hebi (snakes)
- Mujina (badgers)
- Bakeneko (cats)
- Ōkami (wolves)
- Tsuchigumo and jorōgumo (spiders)
- Inugami (dogs)
OniOne of the most well-known aspects of Japanese folklore is the oni, which is a sort of mountain-dwelling ogre, usually depicted with red, blue, brown or black skin, two horns on its head, a wide mouth filled with fangs, and wearing nothing but a tigerskin loincloth. It often carries an iron kanabo or a giant sword. Oni are mostly depicted as evil, but can occasionally be the embodiment of an ambivalent natural force. They are, like many obake, associated with the direction northeast.
Dodomeki - the ghost of a pickpocket, her arms are covered in eyes.
Daitengu - the most powerful tengu, each of whom lives on a separate mountain
Gashadokuro - a giant skeleton, the spirit of the unburied dead.
Heikegani - crabs with human-faced shells, the spirits of the warriors killed in the Battle of Dan-no-ura.
Isonade - a fish-like sea monster with a barb-covered tail.
Jorōgumo - a spider woman.
Kappa - a famous water monster with a water-filled head and a love of cucumbers.
Konoha-tengu - a bird-like tengu.
Nue - a monkey-headed, raccoon dog-bodied, tiger-legged, snake-tailed monster which plagued the emperor with nightmares in the Heike Monogatari.
Nure-onna - a female snake-like monster who appears on the shore
Ryū - the Japanese dragon.
Shishi - the paired lion-dogs that guard the entrances of temples.
Tanuki - a shapeshifting raccoon dog.
Tengu - a wise bird-like demon.
Yuki-onna - the snow woman.
Also there are many Japanese ghosts and zombies called Yurei.
Yūrei (幽霊) are figures in Japanese folklore, analogous to Western legends of ghosts. The name consists of two kanji, 幽 (yū), meaning "faint" or "dim" and 霊 (rei), meaning "soul" or "spirit." Alternative names include 亡霊 (Bōrei) meaning ruined or departed spirit, 死霊 (Shiryō) meaning dead spirit, or the more encompassing 妖怪 (Yōkai) or お化け (Obake).
Here are some examples:
- Onryō - Vengeful ghosts who come back from purgatory for a wrong done to them during their lifetime.
- Ubume - A mother ghost who died in childbirth, or died leaving young children behind. This yūrei returns to care for her children, often bringing them sweets.
- Funayūrei - The ghosts of those who died at sea. These ghosts are sometimes depicted as scaly fish-like humanoids and some may even have a form similar to that of a mermaid or merman.
- Zashiki-warashi - The ghosts of children, often mischievous rather than dangerous.
- Samurai Ghosts - Veterans of the Genpei War who fell in battle. Warrior Ghosts almost exclusively appear in Noh Theater. Unlike most other yūrei, these ghosts are usually shown with legs.
- Seductress Ghosts - The ghost of a woman or man who initiates a post-death love affair with a living human.
Feel free to ask me anything about any of these subjects. I do custom tattoos often based on these interesting motifs. My shop is in Vancouver BC, Canada, 1648 Nanaimo street. Email me at email@example.com http://tattoosbyjamie.blogspot.ca/2012/11/digital-demigods.html