Unlike the Chinese people, the Japanese people are currently very big on tattoos, but that was not always the case. In fact, for a brief time near the end of WW II, getting or giving a tattoo in Japan was actually illegal. The end of the war brought an end to that crime as well.
The alphabetic characters that appear in many Japanese tattoos are called Kanji. These characters, alone or in combination with others, can display a whole range of human emotions, thoughts, proverbs and poetry.
In addition to the calligraphic-like Kanji characters, there are many different animal, spiritual and nature-oriented symbols and images that make their way onto people's body parts in the form of a Japanese tattoo.
Traditional Japanese Tattoos
Irezumi, one of the more traditional Japanese tattoo styles depict dragon, koi and other symbols of Japanese culture and lifestyle. These types of Japanese tattoos are becoming increasingly popular with women who are having these sometimes intricate tattoo designs placed on their hips, back, ankles and arms. Even an occasional breast dragon has been spotted in the wild or during a wet T-shirt contest at some spring break bar in Florida or Mexico.