The Dragon is a the symbol of good luck, and is the single most identifiable mythical creature in Japanese symbolism in the world. It has its origins in China with a long history of being associated with martial arts and Buddhism. The Dragon represents new beginnings and the four directions of the cosmos in esoteric circles. It also represents abundance for harvesting crops and success in all aspects of business and finance. By far, the Dragon is the most popular tattoo in the United States.
Phoenix represents the rebirth of something rising from the ashes. It can also represent a new beginning for someone who wants to rebound from personal failures related to someone’s life. The Phoenix is represented in many Western religions and progressive thought groups that focus on inner development and personal achievement, and growth.
Oni, or devil in English, is another popular tattoo in Japan. It is a known in popular mythology as a deity with dual nature. It is often seen as a guardian and a giver of good luck and fortune. They can traverse different realms to either protect or kill. The Japanese oni devil is often portrayed as small and cute, or sometimes with elongated noses. They make for great tattoos for young men.
Koi is one of the truest symbols of Asia. In Japan, the carp, or Koi is regarded as a prize - winning fish for its many colors along its body. Carp used to be enjoyed as food hundreds of years ago, but is no longer eaten for enjoyment. Instead it's simply admired for its beauty. Koi is not as popular as a tattoo in America, but it is in Japan, and the reason for this is because it represents aesthetic beauty, strength, perseverance and quantity of drive towards something that looks unattainable.
Kiku, or chrysanthemum in English, is often identified with the Royal Family of Japan. It is the family crest and often times is associated with right-wing groups, and nationalist who love to show their solidarity to conservative causes. Previous association would be that of Autumn and ancient Japanese homoerotic literature. It is also the symbol of longevity and revitalization.
The lotus flower, a type of water lily, is a powerful religious symbol in Asian, Egyptian, and Indian cultures. That the lotus flower can stand tall and undefiled in murky waters, lends itself to powerful religious interpretation. Purity, divine beauty, resurrection, and enlightenment are all contained in this symbol.
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