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The Best Tokyo Tattoo Artists And Studios

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Fortunately, where the fight against the government is concerned, things are changing bit by bit. We can only hope it keeps getting better. For now, here are seven great tattoo artists and studios to check out on your next trip to Tokyo!

Eiji Fujisawa can be found tattooing at Studio Muscat in Shibuya the heart of Tokyo. If youre heading to Tokyo, the city will urge you towards Shibuya sooner or later.

And, while youre there, book in with Eiji for a Japanese tattoo with a modern spin. Eiji is one of the most pronounced Tokyo tattoo artists working today.

He uses charcoal-style shading, soft, sometimes non-existent line work, and deep, bold primary colours to make a statement. He is at his best when adapting the traditional Japanese tattoo design into something unique and modern.

Designs like koi fish tattoos, traditional Japanese dragon tattoos, and hanya mask tattoos are among his most captivating and exciting designs. Check him out when youre next in Shibuya.

Mii is a Tokyo tattoo artist who has shaken off the traditions of Japanese tattoo art to provide something fresh and unique to the Tokyo tattoo scene. Miis art focuses on intricate, thin black line work.

Miis in her prime when designing custom tattoos which make use of empty space and complex line work to create something calmly, subtly beautiful in its intricacy.

Tattoos Rise In Popularity

Cut to the Edo period in Japan, when tattoos began to rise in popularity toward the end of the time period.

Part of the credit for this mainstream acceptance goes to artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi, who created a popular series of woodblock prints from 1827- 1830.

The prints were inspired by a 14th-century novel and feature people with impressive full-body tattoos.

The traditional Japanese tattoos depicted in those woodblocks are rich with themes we continue to see in contemporary Japanese artwork and tattoo designs, so the ripple effect from way back then is immeasurable.

Tattoos As A Discipline Strategy

Curiously, in the earlier parts of the Edo Period, tattoos were used as a discipline strategy for various misdemeanors.

Outcasts would be tattooed in a highly visible area, usually their face.

These tattoos were meant as a form of embarrassment and public shaming, but also as a way of identifying the outcasts.

Generally, a lawbreaker would be exiled as well as tattooed, and each region had its own markings.

In some areas, they had tattoo symbols that came in 3 parts, which you would collect as you re-offended.

After you had 3 strikes, more severe retribution was considered.

Eventually face tattoos gave way to limb tattoos, and the policy completely fizzled out to the point where it was officially abolished in 1872.

As these tattoos became rarer, and Kuniyoshis prints were brought to the mainstream, everyday folks started to warm up to the idea of having tattoos themselves.

The Popularity Of Japanese Traditional Tattoo Methods

There are a couple of different reasons why modern tattoo clients are asking for Tebori tattoos:

  • A new appreciation for handmade many young adults today are starting to realize the downsides of our fast-paced pre-made culture.
  • Many older traditions are becoming popular as people start to re-embrace slow, mindful lifestyle changes.
  • The artistry behind a Tebori tattoo makes the experience special and intimate.
  • It honors a tradition that doesnt always get proper respect. In Japan, there is a stigma around tattooing. Because of Irezumis long history with unruly activity and the Yakuza, some think less of people with tattoos. There have even been some studies showing that certain people in Japan are uncomfortable swimming with or even sitting next to people with tattoos.

Embracing the old ways is almost a reclaiming of this as an art form, a spiritual experience, and creative expression.

The original tattoos in Japan were thought to protect the wearer from bad spirits.

Getting a tattoo the same way an ancestor would have pays homage to that person.

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+ Japanese Cloud Tattoos

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Black And Japanese Clouds With Cherry Blossom Flowers Tattoo On Right Half Sleeve By Dap Skingdom

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Black Ink Japanese Cloud Tattoo On Half Sleeve

Black Ink Japanese Cloud Tattoo On Right Half Sleeve

Black Ink Japanese Cloud With Dragon And Flowers Tattoo On Left Half Sleeve

Black Ink Japanese Cloud With Dragon Tattoo On Half Sleeve

Classic Japanese Cloud With Flowers Tattoo Design For Sleeve

Classic Japanese Clouds Tattoo Designs

Grey Ink Japanese Cloud With Flowers Tattoo Design By Emilio Riveros Mendez

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Japanese Cloud With Cherry Blossom Flowers Tattoo On Left Shoulder And Chest

Japanese Cloud With Dragon Tattoo On Left Full Sleeve

Japanese Cloud With Flowers Tattoo Design For Half Sleeve

Japanese Cloud With Flowers Tattoo On Girl Left Shoulder

Japanese Cloud With Stars Tattoo On Right Half Sleeve

Lotus Flower With Japanese Clouds Tattoo On Right Shoulder

Traditional Dragon With Japanese Cloud Tattoo On Man Left Half Sleeve

What Are Japanese Traditional Tattoos

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Traditional Japanese tattoos are referred to as irezumi. Those that are done by hand are referred to as tebori, however tattoo technology has caught up and most designs are now done by artists using a machine.

Japanese traditional design feature rich patterns and heavy single fill and bold outline designs often covering large areas of skin.

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What Is Gradation In Black And Gray Tattoos

Gradation is often essential in Japanese black and gray tattoos or single color ink against variations in shading.

Its the visual technique of gradually transitioning from one color hue to another, or from one shade to another and is employed to create shifts in space, distance, volume, and curved or rounded forms to make tattoos more complex.

Serpent Japanese Sleeve Tattoos

This artist incorporates a number of different elements, including a coiled snake, peonies and chrysanthemums and uses a color palette that heavily features blue tones to complete this stunning Japanese full sleeve.

In this full sleeve, black and reds are favoredalthough a blue chrysanthemum adds chromatic contrast while a more realistic approach is taken in the face of the serpent completing this stylized Japanese tattoo.

Snakes have been key elements in artistic and creative traditions around the world one of the oldest stories of mans origins involves a tree, an apple and a snake. Japanese tattoos are no different and snakes hold a number of different meanings within this ancient tradition. Of the various roles that snakes play, one of the most important is that of a protector. Serpents are seen as guardians against bad luck, disaster and illness and because of this are common elements found in tattoos.

They are also strongly associated with medicine and healing thanks to the role serpents played in many traditional Japanese medicinal rites and ceremonies. Snakes are also perfectly suited for full sleeve tattoos thanks to their long, curving bodies and the ability for an artist to apply a snake coiling and wrapping around the entire length of the wearers arm.

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How To Pick The Best Japanesetattoo For You

If you are considering a Japanese tattoo for yourself, you are likely wondering where to start in terms of choosing a design.

Whether you are of Japanese descent and want to pay homage to your culture or have a deep appreciation for Japanese art, the Japanese tattoo style is perfect for you.

When considering the best Japanese tattoo design for you, there are a few different factors that you should consider.

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Black And Gray Japanese Dragon Tattoo


Like the original Japanese dragon tattoo design, this neutral-toned dragon tattoo has a distinct outline and captures the expression of the dragon in vivid detail. The positioning of the tattoo on the bicep adds to its overall magnificence.

These are the most popular Japanese tattoos right now. Which of these would you like to adorn your body with? Comment below to let us know!

Japanese Wave Full Color Sleeves

These sleeves showcase the beauty of the wave and the importance it plays in Japanese culture as a symbol of power, life, and other elements. One of the many aspects of these sleeves that makes them especially vivid and aesthetically stunning is the rich color pallets used to create them.

Waves are not the only elements involved in a Japanese full sleeve tattoo however. Multiple different pieces are set alongside them, and can include everything from flowers to the koi, a masculine linked fish found often in Japanese tattooing.

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New Wave Japanese Sleeve Tattoos

This is an incredible piece that draws inspiration from traditional Japanese irezumi as well as Western tattooing, perfectly blending the two styles through the use of cherry blossoms and swirling smoke and a realistic approach to the skull that serves as the focal point of this one of a kind tattoo.

Here, once again, we see a number of full sleeve tattoos that draw inspiration from the Japanese tattoo tradition but still manage to incorporate different Western tattoo elements. These pieces are undoubtedly inspired by Japanese tattooing: the cherry blossoms, dragons and swirling smoke typical of the style are all present.

However, these artists also incorporate several approaches and designs that are more common in Western tattooing. The stylized skulls in several of these pieces in particular look like they came off the flash wall of tattoo shop in East L.A., while others take an approach that is a bit more realistic than traditional Japanese designs.

The successful incorporation of these different styles and approaches is a testament to the artists skill and understanding of Japanese tattooing. A lesser artist may have ended up with a design that feels forced and hodge-podge, but the seamless application and excellent composition perfectly suit these stunning tattoos.

Do Tebori Tattoos Look Better

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With all of the vibrant colors we see in many traditional Japanese designs, its no wonder artists would want to work with whatever is going to give them the best result.

How a tattoo comes out on your skin will depend almost as much on the artist as it does on the tools.

Some people can achieve amazing, hyper-saturated results with a tattoo machine.

Others argue that they see a deeper, more fleshed-out result from their Tebori work.

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Black And Gray Japanese Sleeve Tattoos

While full color pieces commonly fill the Japanese sections of tattoo magazines, there is actually a long history of black and gray designs in irezumi. There is no doubt that the vibrant colors of some of these Japanese tattoos are appealing, but for some people there is something about black and gray designs that better speak to their sensibilities.

Tigers, koi fish and dragons can all be successfully applied using black and gray ink, although several of these pieces utilize a limited color palette to create more interesting designs. These small additions of colorseen here in the cherry and lotus blossomsare a clever idea that takes these black and gray pieces to the next level.

A subtle elegance is achieved with black and gray ink that is difficult to match using full color, and these full sleeves perfectly demonstrate the appeal of this subdued approach.

Dragon Japanese Sleeve Tattoos

Dragons are mythical creatures that have a history in just about every culture on the planet: from the fire breathing beasts of European traditions to the coiling serpents of Chinese art, each of these cultures attribute dragons with different significance.

In Western stories and myths dragons are agents of chaos, amassing fortunes of gold and wreaking havoc, while in Asian cultures dragons are seen as beneficiaries that have the best interests of man in mind. In Japan, dragons are seen as wise as well as holding deep connections to the natural forces of wind and water.

Visually speaking, dragons are the perfect choice for full sleeve tattoos. The amount of detail that can be incorporated into these tattoos is impressive: a large dragon sleeve may have thousands of individual scales applied to the skin. The length and supple shape of Japanese dragons allow them to coil and wrap around the arm, drawing the eye up and down the entire tattoo. All of these different factors have helped to make dragons one of the most popular subjects for Japanese inspired tattoos.

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Black Ink And Blackout Japanese Wave Tattoos

Japanese wave tattoos done with black ink have a flair all their own. They have a crispness to them that is unique. They also have a bit of a vintage feel, something that is not necessarily seen to quite the same degree in other types of the same pieces.

Blackout tattoos are an especially unique type of Japanese wave tattoos as they use black as the primary backdrop of the piece and essentially work out of it. These are truly exceptional tattoo types.

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Because this is a part of living in Japan, there are resources available.

Many websites are dedicated to tattoo-friendly spaces in Japan.

There are some onsen where tattoos are permitted, so plan your day around those locations and youre golden.

You also have the option to book a private onsen for maximum relaxation.

Nobody minds what nobody sees!

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Are Tebori Tattoos Safe

As young people begin embracing these old practices, there have been some concerns from public health organizations.

Tattooing is something that needs to be very sterile to keep clients safe, and there is some worry that these older tools are more difficult to sanitize.

Modern Tebori artists have responded to this concern by switching out their needles after every use, the same practice used with a machine.

Unique Japanese Sleeve Tattoos

The beauty of tattoos is the opportunity they provide for self-expression, and while different styles and schools have rules and decorum that dictate what is and is not traditional, rules are meant to be broken. This is not to say that more traditional Japanese pieces arent appealing, but only that every tattoo should be unique to the wearer, and some people just arent suited for traditional.

These Japanese tattoos take an approach that is less concerned with the rules that dictate the tradition and are more focused creating one of a kind, Japanese-inspired pieces. The open composition and incorporation of larger elements help these pieces stand out while maintaining a distinctly Japanese aesthetic. The full sleeve designs are great examples of the style and are sure to turn heads for years to come.

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Gray Scale Traditional Japanese Wave Tattoos

These Japanese tattoos do not include the color that some others have. Despite this, however, they in no way appear lacking. These gray scale traditional Japanese wave tattoos are still extremely interesting and appealing in their own right. They are an equally strong display of the symbolic Japanese waves as well as the other elements that often go along with them.

Black And Grey Tattoos: The Ultimate Guide In 2022


Here you’ll find the ultimate guide to black and grey tattoos, their origins as well as alternate names and benefits. Black and Grey Tattooing is a practice that has spread through all of the world’s cultures as a source of tremendous fascination for aficionados. For thebest black and grey tattoo artists, black & grey tattoos are a way of life. Because of the enthusiasm, passion, and dedication of professional tattoo artists, the art of black and gray tattooing is continuing to expand in creativity and excellence. Read along to learn everything you want to know about Black and Grey Tattoos, their benefits, and discover inspiringblack and grey tattoo ideas.

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Do Tebori Tattoos Hurt More

There is some debate in the tattoo community about whether tattoos hurt more from a machine or from Tebori methods.

A tattoo machine will be quicker, about half the time it takes to get a Tebori tattoo.

But the needle is moving quickly a tattoo machine can pierce the skin between 50 and 3000 times per minute!

So in some ways, a tattoo machine can be more painful because there is more happening at a much faster rate.

Tebori tattoos take longer though, so it may depend on your determination.

Would you rather have a lot of pain that ends quickly or a slightly less intense pain that goes on longer?

Another thing to consider is your tattoo artist.

No matter what kind of tool an artist uses- technique is key.

Some tattooers have a light touch, while others fastly drive the ink into the skin.

Generally, a tattoo from someone with years of experience will be gentler, because theyve practiced longer.

Tattoos In Modern Japan

Following the opening of Japan’s borders to the rest of the world at the beginning of the Meiji period, the Japanese government, conscious to protect its image and make a good first impression in the face of its new international status, outlawed tattooing, with irezumi soon taking on connotations of criminality. Nevertheless, many foreigners, fascinated with the unique skills of Japanese tattoo artists, travelled to Japan with the express intention of being tattooed there, and traditional tattooing continued underground.

Tattooing was legalized by the occupation forces in 1948, but has retained its image of criminality. For many years, traditional Japanese tattoos were associated with the yakuza, Japan’s notorious mafia, and many businesses in Japan still ban customers with tattoos.

Although tattoos have gained popularity among the youth of Japan due to Western influence, tattoos continue to be stigmatised throughout most of Japan unlike many other countries, even finding a tattoo shop in Japan can prove difficult, with tattoo shops primarily placed in areas that are very tourist- or US military-friendly. According to Kunihiro Shimada, the president of the Japan Tattoo Institute, there are an estimated 300 tattoo artists throughout the entirety of Japan.

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