Traditionally, Japanese tattoos were once widely accepted as symbols of both social and spiritual status. Though, by the time World War II has passed, the Emperor of Japan quickly outlawed them in order to improve the country’s appearance.
And like anything that gets outlawed, people start envying what they couldn’t have.
Most notably, those in criminal organizations like the Japanese mafia, Yakuza. Of course, the Yakuza weren’t the only ones to adopt traditional tattooing, so did foreigners from a far.
There’s no denying the appeal of the artistic Japanese style with its beautiful floral designs, deep meanings, and motifs. In reality, the decision to outlaw ink only took the coolness factor up a few notches. Fast forward to today and the style is more popular than ever, especially when it comes to sleeves.
History aside, the designs you’ll find when it comes to Japanese themed tattoos widely greatly from man to man. For instance, here’s a few options you can choose to go with, each with their own unique meaning:
Skulls (Zugaikotsu), Chrysanthemum (Kiku), Demon (Oni), Dragon (Ryu), Fu Dog (Karashishi), Cherry Blossoms (Sakura), Phoenix (Hou-ou), Severed Head (Namakubi), Snake (Hebi), Peony (Botan), Koi fish, Tiger, and Water wave among others.
Needless to say, any man can make his sleeve piece just about as unique as he is. Just keep in mind the meanings for most symbols are quite universal and easily recognizable. However, you can always opt for a hybrid and mix designs from other cultures and traditions to make your purpose for getting inked more complex.
With that said, go ahead and explore these top 120 best Japanese sleeve tattoos for men below. You’ll be get a better idea of what all the designs look like plus gain some cool inspiration along the way.