The Psychology Behind Japanese Tattoos

The art of Japanese tattooing has gained great popularity over the years. From the days when it was associated with the Yakuza, it has come a long way in representing the whole of Japanese culture and tradition. Japanese art always has something for everyone. Whether you want a cherry blossom design or wish to go for a fierce dragon, you will find it all in different styles, colors and designs. Ranging from a koi fish to a mortal combat scene, Japanese tattoos have a variety of meanings associated with their art.

History and significance of Japanese tattoos

There is a rich and strong historical background behind all Japanese tattoos. There are designs inspired by old figurines on tombs and some historical documents indicate that Japanese men used to have their faces and bodies decorated in various colors and styles. Then later in Japanese history when Chinese culture left its influence on Japan, tattooing became taboo and was reserved for criminals and outcasts. Traditional Japanese tattoos used to symbolize different types of character in people. Currently, Japanese tattoos are famous for ranging from small tattoos to brilliant large-sized designs that can cover an entire arm of the person having it tattooed.

Japanese tattoo designs and symbolism

There are various types of Japanese tattoo designs that are famous among people for their special significance. Some of these are the following:

Cherry Blossom: These are symbolic of life and are also known as Sakura. Though cherry blossoms are fragile it is considered to be their beauty that they are able to survive and bloom even in harsh conditions. Japanese culture believes that life should be lived to the fullest and the awareness of death should govern good living. That is the power of a cherry blossom tattoo, and one should take good care of it when it is tattooed onto the body.

Koi Fish: Koi fish are brightly-colored fish that are related to the spiritual significance of the Japanese culture and are very famous in tattoo designs. It is believed by Japanese people that koi fish go upstream to reach the gates of heaven where they become dragons. Koi fish are representative of power, ambition, strength, luck and individuality. If a tattoo has to symbolize a person’s struggle in life, then a koi fish tattoo is the perfect way to do that.

Dragons: Being an important part of the culture of Japan, dragons symbolize wisdom, strength, freedom, power and courage. They even symbolize supernatural powers at times. It is important to choose the right colors for dragons, though, as each symbolizes something different. So, you can get dragons designed in a variety of ways after checking their significance with your artist.

Hannya Masks: This is a traditional design where the meaning of demonic masks comes from kabuki plays. These tattoos represent good luck and are believed to ward off evil.

There are several other Japanese tattoo designs that you might like, but make sure you know their meanings and significance before getting any of them tattooed.

How Much Do Tattoos Cost? How to Get the Best Deal

Tattoos have become a part of the identity of most human beings, and so you are now more likely to get a tattoo than any other time. As innovations continue to come up, and the creativity of tattoos artists continues to improve there are now almost unlimited types and designs of tattoos to choose from.

Although personal preferences and tastes are the two key things that influence the tattoo that a person chooses, the cost is also a crucial factor that most people take into consideration. No matter how beautiful a tattoo might be if you cannot afford it, you will not be able to get. Due to this you will often find many people asking “how much do tattoos cost?”To make sure that cost does not stand between you and that tattoos that you have always desired it is important to understand the factors that influence the cost and also know how to get a good deal.

Factors That Influence the Cost of a Tattoo

· The Artist: The cost of a tattoo will depend on the skills and experience of the artist that you chose for your tattoo. The more experienced and skilled artists tend to charge at a higher rate compared to the less skilled ones. A reputable tattoo artist will often price their services on an hourly basis and hence making the tattoo more expensive. However despite the higher cost involved an experienced artist will offer you a more professional service that also translates to a more fabulous tattoo.

· The Tattoo Size: The bigger the tattoo, the more costly it will be. Big tattoos tend to consume more time and resources than a smaller tattoo, and so it is only fair for the artist to charge more for them. However, this is not always the case since some small tattoos may cost way much than bigger ones due to their exquisite design. If the design is not very complex, the tattoo artist will look at the area that the tattoo will cover and use this as a guideline for the pricing.

· The Color: A one color tattoo is cheaper than a multicolored one. The main reason behind is this is the fact that a tattoo with more than one color requires more detail. The more detailed a tattoo is, the more the time and resources needed to draw it. Even for the tattoo artists that charge a flat rate will need to be compensated for the extra time spent on the tattoo and so they will price the multicolored tattoo highly than the one color tattoos.

· Placement of the Tattoo: The place that you choose to have your tattoo will influence the cost of the tattoo significantly. Some areas are usually harder for the tattoo artist to draw than other, and so most artists will tend to charge more for these locations. What makes this place harder to tattoo is that they are more sensitive due to nerve receptors. Some of these sensitive places that are more expensive include hand, feet, neck, and genitals.

· Tattoo Design: Complex tattoo designs require a lot of the work from the artist so that he can be able to get it right. Due to this the more complex the design of your tattoo is the more expensive the tattoo will be. Simple tattoo designs are easy to draw, and so they will also not cost you much. Custom made designs will also cost more than the standard tattoo designs or images.

· Location of the Tattoo Parlor: Tattoo parlors located in lavish suburbs or cities are generally more expensive than those found in other parts of the city. Tattoo artists know that the people in the opulent areas are wealthy, and so they will charge them more expensive. Running the parlor in the lavish areas is also more costly due to things like high rents, and so a tattoo artist has to be more expensive to keep his business afloat.

How to Get the Best Deal for Your Tattoo

If you already have a specific tattoo that you wish to get in mind, you should not let the cost prevent you from getting the tattoo. To make sure that cost is not an impediment you should for a good deal for the tattoo. The following are the best ways to get the best tattoo deal.

· Shop around before settling for a tattoo artist

Tattooing is not a new art, and neither is it a new skill and so there are dozens of tattoo artist at any particular place. These tattoo artists have different pricing policies, and so some of them will be way cheaper than others. An artist that charges less does not necessarily mean that they offer low-quality tattoos. Before settling for any tattoo artist, you should shop around and compare their prices and settle for the most affordable artist but you should also be careful not to compromise the quality of the tattoo that you get.

· Look for discounts

Discounts are the most efficient way for tattoo artists to market their work, and so there is always one running a discount. Whether they want to promote new tattoo designs, or they wish to promote, a new parlor tattoo artists will offer huge discounts and so you should take advantage of this to get a good deal.

· Flat rates are better that hourly rates

If things do not go as anticipated, and your tattoo ends up taking more time than expected you will have to compensate the tattoo artist for all the time taken. Due to this it is better to get a service that is priced at a flat-rate than one that is charged on an hourly rate. Although some artists might finish the work very fast, good tattoo deals are those that charge a flat rate.

· Do all your tattoos in one sitting

If you have already made up your mind to have more than one tattoo, and you have the designs that you want for each one of them you should have them in one sitting if possible. If you bargain for all the tattoos under one package, it will cost you less than what you would pay for each one of them separately.

· Face to face negotiations will work better for you

With the technologies of today, you can negotiate with your tattoo artist via phone or the internet but if you want a good deal face to face negotiations are the best. Before agreeing to anything, you should visit the tattoo artist and negotiate for a deal as it will be easier to convince them in person.

Visit Tatttoo Journal Blog for more information and find out the factors that influence the price.

Tattoos: Immediate Gratification and Addiction

In the tattoo world there is a common phrase, “tattoos are addictive”. Once received the freshly inked are said to start envisaging other potential designs, placements and projects. Perhaps this propensity could be simplified into economic terms and, considering the highly detrimental lasting effects of bad tattoos, rightly be classified as an addiction.

Outside of genuine cultural practices popularized tattooing trends can broadly be considered as a post-modern, flattening of heritage. It is now perfectly common to see those of clear Caucasian descent with full traditional Japanese sleeves. Non-Buddhists covered in Thai temple writing they couldn’t read or translate if their life depended on it and Polynesian armbands on Americans that haven’t left the country. The intent is not to restrict or judge their choice simply to state that the markings themselves have now frequently been reclassified as stylistic preferences.

There is no way to objectively classify taste. As history is often overlooked or mashed together, skill in application and design is everything. ‘Authenticity’ now rests with the tattooist. Irrespective of the subject matter there are two differentiating principles: talent and uniqueness. In the same way that Picasso would not have painted a great Jackson Pollack – talent arises from the selection of and dedication to a specific set of techniques. This does not imply that the content need remain uniform. Every artist has a particular skill set best suited to their own formula of creativity. Talent connotes a representative skill set whereas uniqueness means the artist does not rely on works already completed. Without their skill set work is reduced to duplication. In tattooing, technique is an additional consideration. Using skin as their canvas an artist might be gifted at recreating classic paintings or portraits. The uniqueness here is not derived from the designs per-se but from the artists’ ‘proprietary’ application technique.

The classifiers of talent and uniqueness set a reasonable benchmark of quality. The difference between good and bad body art being potentially harmful duplication without proprietary or noteworthy technique. A bad tattoo is then a culturally void, inferior replication. On top of which tattoos, except for painful and costly removal, are permanent. A bad tattoo might not only be artistically substandard but could damage the skin and remain an indelible public scar (damage here referring both to the possible physical and aesthetic detriment). Changing personal or cultural significance of these markings are, by their locked temporal nature, unforeseeable. The full extent of the harm able to be caused by a bad tattoo is then too primarily realizable well after the procedure.

When judging bad tattoos quantity becomes a contributory concern. A single bad tattoo might stand out as such when viewed in isolation. Whereas a person that has dedicated significant portions of skin to bad tattoos may transform these pieces into a ‘collection’. The dedication itself lending authenticity or credibility to the substandard work which is then able to be viewed as a whole. In a ‘strength in numbers’ kind of mentality, a bad tattoo collection might often be held as an a-posteriori, justifiable choice.

In pre-internet years ignorance to the various levels of quality possible in body art might have been a plausible rationale for the selection of substandard work. This coupled with much higher barriers to entry for international travel and the likely geographical proximity of average studios meant options may have appeared to be limited. Today the average cost of tattooing classifies it as more of a luxury pursuit. If one could afford a large tattoo from a typical studio one would also most likely have sufficient means to acquire adequate disposable income for others. Meaning the average tattoo-seeker would be able to research multiple studios as well as travel further away from home for the appointment.

In an open economy the fact that artists who produce exceptional work and artists who produce substandard work still exist affirms two points. Firstly, there is wide spread recognition of the differentiation between the two. Secondly, there remains a demand for both. Here we can explore the choosing of good or bad tattoos in economic terms. The most influential psychological factors of selection being immediate gratification and addiction.

Immediate Gratification:

Actions can be simplified into perceived costs and rewards. Costs actions are those that require resources for completion. To file your taxes, pay your bills, go to school or finish the housework could all be considered costs. Actions with anticipated benefits are rewards. Usually rewards make you feel good or add value. The question of gratification, immediate or delayed, then comes down to the perceived costs and rewards of an action within a timeline.

A person can be said to be ‘sophisticated’ or ‘naïve’ when it comes to understanding the perceived costs and rewards of their choices. The more in line one’s own understanding of the actual costs or rewards of a given situation is with their choices the higher the level of sophistication. A naïve is someone unable to properly reason or consider the effects of their actions. Immediate gratification has negative connotations because costs are avoided and only perceived instant rewards sought, potentially leading to greater albeit delayed costs. A sophisticate could be distinguished by their capacity for delayed gratification.

Self awareness should not be overly celebrated just quite yet though. It has been concluded in numerous studies that recognition of a problem with self control might conversely worsen the situation. Sophisticates may reason that since they know they might have a problem with something down the line they might as well get it out of the way and do it now. Here we venture into the idea of addiction. In consideration of delayed or immediate gratification the addicted mindset can reason that the worse the potential future indulgence might be, the less damage current indulgence poses. The predilection for indulgence or immediate gratification then becomes a justifiable pursuit based on self-predicted behavior. In either sophisticates or naives the timeline over which actions will properly be judged is often skirted for a variety of reasons.


Although traditionally linked with chemical dependencies such as drug and alcohol consumption, addiction encompasses a range of behaviors. To be addicted is to be psychologically hooked to a certain action or set of actions despite the consequences. Just as smokers inhale regardless of the cancer warnings on the packets, sex addicts continue promiscuous behavior despite knowledge of possible self harm. Once classified as an addict choices can become physiologically affected too. There have been descriptions of the addicted brain being hardwired to pre-accept an opportunity for indulgence in said addiction. Meaning if you were to ask the decision for the drug addict to have another hit may have been affirmatively made before they were able to consciously process or even reply to the question.

An argument for tattooing to be exempt from an addiction classification could be made. Certainly there is no evidence that tattooing poses long term health risks in the same way that nicotine or alcohol abuse does. And in most countries it is a legal activity usually restricted to consenting adults and generally poses no risk of incarceration. However, proceeding with permanent bodily alterations with knowledge of one’s’ inferior selection can be considered a form of self harm.

As classified in the Manual of Mental Disorders (DSMV-IV-TR), self harm is listed as a symptom of borderline personality disorder. Often used as a coping mechanism for deep seeded feelings usually of stress, inadequacy, anger, anxiety or depression. Bad tattoos, if viewed as self harm, are able to meet both the attention getting and anger dissociative behavior symptoms (two commonly attributed motivations of self harm). Far from splurging with an unhealthy meal, having a big night out or treating yourself to any indulgence – tattooing is a permanent marking with little to no chance of alteration. People can lose weight, take medication and even scars can heal. However, the placement of ink on the dermis remaining visible for a lifetime is a single, largely unalterable action. The deliberate selection of a bad tattoo and possible subsequent conscious or unconscious repetition is more akin to a type of body dysmorphia.

To reiterate the previous differentiation bad body art is the potentially harmful, culturally void duplication performed without proprietary or noteworthy technique. The repercussions of selection commonly overlooked due to an often non-temporal misalignment of the actual associated costs and rewards. In other words, the timeline for the tattoos presence is generally inconceivable. Therefore the rewards of immediate gratification are inflated. A reality that is later masked through commitment to the ‘collection’. In a world of options the conscious choice of an inferior tattoo, whether credited to any range of emotions from subculture participation to ease of application, is a form of self harm.

This conclusion might beg the question, why choose to be tattooed? The sophisticated course of action would be the initial selection of a unique piece from a talented artist. Despite the higher initial costs, gratification is delayed for the sake of expertise and distinction. Therefore irrespective of personal preference or changing viewpoints, a good tattoo in and of itself remains artistically valuable. Yet only when consciously deliberated in light of the facts does this choice become yours.