Japanese dragon tattoo

A Guide to Japanese Dragon Tattoos with Meaning and Ideas

In Japanese culture, the importance of Dragons is equivalent to the survival of civilization. This means, according to their beliefs, Dragons are the protectors and benefactors of humankind. It is substantial enough for them to get dragons tattooed on their bodies. These tattoos are a tribute to their age-old custom, and also symbolise and tell stories about wisdom, strength, and bravery.

In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about Japanese Dragon tattoos. We will also enlighten you with different tattoo ideas regarding both design and placement.

Japanese Dragon Tattoos Meaning and Facts

Japanese Dragons derived from Chinese mythology dating back to almost 6000 years ago. However, unlike Chinese dragons, Japanese dragons are often depicted as sea serpents. This is because Japan is an island, and the people believe the dragons protect by guarding the island in the sea, protecting the land and people.

Japanese Dragons come in five different colours, each symbolising different aspects of humanity, and there are six different types of dragons. These six are Sui, Ri, Han, Hai, Ka, and Fuku. And the term Ryu means dragon. Each of these dragons, once again, upholds a different meaning.

In the table below, we have summarised some dragons in colour and their symbolism.

Types of Dragons Symbolism
Yellow Noble Companion
Black Wisdom and Experience
Green Nature
Golden Value and Virtue
Blue Benevolent, Gentle, and Forgiving

Japanese Dragon Tattoo Ideas

Without further ado, let us dive right into some of the most captivating Japanese Dragon tattoo ideas. We will also do our best to inform you of everything you need to know about them.

Traditional Japanese Dragon Tattoo

Traditional Japanese dragon tattoo 1

Traditionally Japanese dragon tattoos have been a major part of the culture. The people of the land believed when they tattooed themselves with beautiful and intimidating dragons from their mythology, the ink used for the tattoo will infuse the wearer with power and magic, which will be derived from the dragons themselves.

These tattoos are designed and infused with colour, which represents variants of dragons and various aspects of their power. The designs are intricate and hauntingly beautiful.

Female Japanese Dragon Tattoo

Female Japanese dragon tattoo 1

Contrary to popular belief, dragon tattoos can be feminine and look as equally powerful on women as they do on men. There are dragon tattoo designs that are magnificent, and artistically pleasing. The dragons’ many women wear are often thinner with delicate lines that exude femininity. The designs also collaborate with flowers and other elements of nature.

Japanese Dragon Sleeve Tattoos

Japanese dragon sleeve tattoo 1

Sleeve tattoos are like a rite-of-passage for tattoo enthusiasts. People who love to wear permanent ink on themselves will dwell upon getting sleeve tattoos at least once in their lifetime. They might look painful, but they are totally worth it. And dragon sleeve tattoos look badass and captivating. The art always tells a story, perhaps, a tale taken straight from Japanese folklore consisting of a heroic or inspiring dragon.

Japanese Dragon Head Tattoos

Japanese dragon head tattoo 1

Oftentimes, some people will only get a dragon head tattoo. The tattoo can be incorporated into any part of the body, depending on the size and detail of the design. Dragon heads embody the emotions of the dragon and are symbolic to the wearer and their lives too.

Japanese Dragon Back Tattoos

Japanese dragon back tattoo 1

If you want to get a large tattoo with a story and focus on intricate details, consider getting a dragon tattoo on your back. It will look awe-striking and the artist can put in as many little details as you prefer.

Japanese Dragon Chest Tattoos

Japanese dragon chest tattoo 1

Another great place to get a dragon tattoo with a comprehensive story is on your chest. Chest dragon tattoos are almost a custom among many peers in Japan. They look exquisite, enthralling, and to an extent almost challenging.

Japanese Dragon Forearm Tattoo

Japanese dragon forearm tattoo 1

The most popular and beloved placement for dragon tattoos is the forearms. They are an easy access place for tattoos, and people love forearm art. If you want a dragon tattoo, which is not too big or too small, and you want to showcase it to people all the time, we suggest you get one on your forearm.

Cherry Blossom Japanese Dragon Tattoo

Cherry blossom Japanese dragon tattoo 1

Cherry blossoms, like dragons, are a significant part of the culture and land. These flowers symbolise the renewal of life or new beginnings. You can easily combine a cherry blossom tattoo with a traditional dragon tattoo, which will together create a dominant tattoo with a deep meaning.

Japanese Dragon and Tiger Tattoos

Japanese dragon and tiger tattoo 1

Another animal as majestic and potent as dragons are tigers. Many people believe joining a dragon and a tiger together in a tattoo will help them infuse with the power of strength, wisdom, and immortality.

Japanese Dragon Neck Tattoo

Japanese dragon neck tattoo 1

Dragon tattoos on the neck are a custom that has been being practiced for decades. It symbolises that the wearer is ready for new challenges and breaks communicative barriers. If you are not an amateur or new tattoo wearer, getting the neck dragon tattoo is a great idea.

Small Japanese Dragon Tattoo

Small Japanese dragon tattoo 1

Naturally, dragon tattoos are quite big and conspicuous. However, if you do not like showy and eye-catching tattoos, but want something subtler, delicate, and small, you can get a small dragon tattoo. They are more popular than one would believe. They are perfect to be inked on your wrist, shoulder, collarbones, hips, ankles, etc.

Japanese Dragon Shoulder Tattoo

Japanese dragon shoulder tattoo 1

If you are looking for a dramatic tattoo, a shoulder tattoo would be a brilliant idea. It would span from the back of your shoulder to the front. You could ask the artist to draw the dragon in a way that looks like the dragon flew from the back to the front while spitting fire. It could be a tattoo in motion.

Japanese Dragon Leg Tattoos

Japanese dragon leg tattoo 1

While this could be painful, dragon tattoos on the legs would look incredible. Due to the limited space, we would suggest you get a simple yet meaningful dragon tattoo.

Japanese Dragon and Koi Fish Tattoo

Japanese dragon and koi fish tattoo 1

A dragon can be symbolically associated with a koi fish, which represents accomplishment, strength, courage, etc. Some people prefer to bind the symbolism of both by inking them into their skin. They believe the powerful meaning both these animals hold will help the wearer enhance their virtues.

Blue Japanese Dragon Tattoo

Blue Japanese dragon tattoo 1

The colour blue in dragons represents gentleness, benevolence, and forgiveness. If you can associate with those, or want to attract and welcome more of those into your life, you could get a Japanese blue dragon.

Green Japanese Dragon Tattoo

Green Japanese dragon tattoo 1



If you find yourself being in tune with nature, and want nature to be a bigger and more vital part of your life, a green dragon might help to manifest that. Green dragons are always associated with nature, and how they manipulate elements of nature.

Japanese Dragon and Phoenix Tattoo

Japanese dragon and phoenix tattoo 1

We all know universally a phoenix represents resurrection, a new life. Joint with a dragon, a phoenix would hold more supremacy than one could imagine. You can channel the power of this duo by getting a dragon and phoenix tattoo.

Japanese Dragon and Skull Tattoo

Japanese dragon and skull tattoo 1

Skull represents death and after-life – a symbolism that is quite opposite of what Japanese dragons represent. The difference between a skull tattoo and a dragon tattoo is like the yin-yang. If you can relate to both sides, it is a great tattoo design for you.

Japanese Dragon and Samurai Tattoo

Japanese dragon and samurai tattoo 1

Symbolically equivalent to a dragon, a samurai represents the life of a warrior, i.e., the practice of ethics, respect, and discipline. A dragon and a samurai would be invincible, and the power of the two together can be infused into tattoos for people to channel and bask in.

Japanese Yakuza Dragon Tattoo

Japanese yakuza dragon tattoo 1

An extension of samurai tattoos, the yakuza tattoo is an ancient tradition, which represents the wearer – often warriors – protecting Japanese cultures and traditions from generations ago. They are associated with the loyalty, courage, and pride of one’s culture.

Final Thoughts

Japanese dragon tattoos have been in practice for thousands of years, and we are certain they will continue to live on for a very long time. These tattoos are not mere designs worn by people for aesthetic or artistic purposes. The dragon tattoos speak of a time long gone, tell stories that have been passed on for generations, and about the ancient history of civilization and their legacy. Thus, this is a tradition that should be honoured and practiced diligently with the utmost respect. We love Japanese traditional dragon tattoos, and we hope you will find at least one idea from above inspiring enough to get a dragon tattoo for yourself.

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