Every image used in Japanese tattoos for men carry a deep meaning, which explains their appeal across many cultures. These tattoos were initially used as spiritual symbols and to show a distinction between different classes of the Japanese society. With time, people begun to associate their superstition and believes to certain animals, leading to their widespread use in tattoos. Consequently, many societies incorporated Japanese tattoos into their culture due to their rich history and illusions.

Japanese Skull Tattoos

The inception of the skull in the Japanese culture was to represent change, just as death represents a transition from the world of the living to that of the dead. Men use the skull tattoo to show their respect for life, reference for ancestors and acceptance of change. Unfortunately, many cultures have come to associate the skull tattoo with negative attributes such as danger, death, and ill fate.

Japanese Phoenix Tattoos

These tattoos are based on the Phoenix bird story, believed to rise from its own ashes when burned by fire. Phoenix tattoos symbolize a rebirth and triumph, and may as well indicate regeneration and transformation of one’s self.

The Snake Tattoo

In Japanese traditions, the snake is attributed to protection against disasters, illnesses, and bad fortune. The snake was also revered in medicinal rites. It is common Japanese belief that as the snake sheds its skin, people can similarly take on other desirable attributes.

The Japanese Demon Mask Tattoo

Also referred to as the Oni Mask tattoo, the Demon tattoo is associated with protection, trickery and the punishment of evildoers by demons. The Oni mask tattoo is one of the most popular Japanese tattoos for men and employs creatures such as giants and trolls to represent the spiritual world.

Tiger Tattoos

Just as the tiger is attributed with courage and strength, so are the men who are tattooed with the Japanese tiger. Men also use the Japanese tiger for protection against diseases, evil spirits, and bad luck. The appearance of the tiger represents the onset of autumn and the North, so the animal is believed to control the wind.

Koi Tattoos

Native to China, the Japanese koi fish are attributed with the masculine qualities of strength and brevity. The koi gained their respect as the only fish that could swim upstream the Chinese Yellow River. It was also believed that any fish that swam past a certain point transformed into dragons. Consequently, the koi tattoo is used as a show of determination and the desire to succeed.

Lion/Fu-Dog Tattoos

The fu-dog tattoo is a combination of a dog and a lion and is used in the Japanese culture to represent protection. It is a common symbol in Japanese shrines where it shows readiness to protect one’s property. Men also use the fu-dog tattoo to ward off evil spirits.

Kiku Tattoo

The Kiku flower is viewed as a symbol of perfection in the Japanese culture. The petals of the flower are drawn to represent the radiating rays of the sun, which represent the central position of the emperor as the source of power. It is among the major Japanese tattoos for men as it depicts them as having a high stand in the society.

Cherry Blossom Tattoos

Cherry blossoms find an extensive application in the Japanese tattoo art due to their fragility, which symbolizes the delicateness of the human life. Men are tattooed with these tattoos as a show of fragility of life as witnessed in the quick flowering, fading and scattering of cherry blossoms.

Check out the best Japanese tattoos for men


A young lady appears mysteriously beautiful as she holds her umbrella with her decorated arm, eyes closed amidst a dark and cloudy backdrop matched by the woman’s brilliant black hair. This geisha tattoo is drawn gracefully across the entire back.


Japanese tattoo at its finest featuring the head of what does not seem to be human, rather a demon with yellow eyes and sharp fangs. Its horns extend long beyond its black hair, surrounded by lovely flowers that are inked in great detail.


Irezumi is still practiced today by more and more people who respect the Japanese culture. This traditional design with half a creature with a fierce face and ready to attack with blood-stained hands, surrounded by falling flowers looks stunning on the back.


Covering part of the back is one of the most attractive japanese tattoo ideas which exhibits world-class craftsmanship. A samurai stands tall under the strong winds with great power and courage as strength, aside from being heavily clothed and protected by an impressively gorgeous armor.


Black bamboos display elegance as an amazing work of art is seen on one side of the back. Vivid black leaves grow in abundance, from the stalks, while hieroglyphs run on the spine and are scribbled alongside the plant life.


Delicately inked on the side of the back is what may be the loveliest image among Japanese tattoos for guys. The realistic face of a young woman is cradled by dainty big and small flowers as her hair flows along with nature’s elements.


A dragon is the centerpiece of this full back Japanese tattoo. The creature’s head bears long horns, huge hollow eyes, and a mouth lined with sharp teeth. It looks fiery yet compelling with the lovely sakura enveloping its slender body.


Draped on the arm’s full length, from shoulder down to the wrist, is a vibrant red sleeve tattoo. It starts off with a demon’s head, traverses into a scary womanly form, down to a large koi fish with no eye.


Phoenix and dragon combine to deliver the most amazing japanese tattoos for men. The two beings are wrapped around in wavy clouds as they look down upon a samurai, brave enough to fight with courage that’s even bigger than their massive size.


The fierce image of a tiger looks very beautiful in bright orange and black tones. The animal is engaged in a fight with a snake that has his mouth open and tongue out, and long body curved throughout the human back.

More Japanese tattoos for men on the next page…