The Meaning of the Japanese Dragon Tattoo
The Japanese dragon (or Tatsu) originates in the Japanese mythology and merges native historical stories with legends of dragons from other Asian or Oriental countries like China, Korea, or India. As opposed to the meaning and the design of western dragon tattoos, the Japanese dragon does not have wings or spit fire. The Japanese dragon looks more like a lizard, snake, or some sort of reptile with clawed feet, and is usually associated with any type of water. Japanese dragons usually have 3 claws, whereas Chinese dragons have 5 claws. The meaning of the Japanese dragon tattoo is also quite different from the meaning of western dragon tattoo designs.
The Japanese dragons, and there are several, are based on the Chinese dragon mythology where each dragon has a different meaning or purpose. For example: The “Blue Dragon” is the protector of the Zodiac. “Watatsumi” is the ruler of the seas and oceans, or “Kuzuryu” the 9-headed dragon is in many cases associated with water.
The meanings of Japanese dragon tattoos vary according to their purpose, or meaning in the Japanese mythology, or greater Asian history. Japanese dragons can represent good and evil, but in most cases of dragon tattoos the meaning of the Japanese dragon is good luck, wealth, and good fortune. It can also stand for power, strength, and wisdom.
Another indicator of the meaning of Japanese dragons is their color, and as we know from Asian or Japanese tattoos in general, in most cases they tend to be very colorful. A golden dragon, for example, represents wisdom and kindness, a green dragon represents the earth and life, a black dragon is a child of a very old dragon. Blue dragons represent a sign of coming spring, yellow dragons are secluded and wander alone, white dragons are a sign of death. Red dragons are similar to black dragons and according to Japanese mythology can cause storms when they fight high up in the air.
The meaning of Japanese dragon tattoos may vary according to the type and color of the dragon, however, all Japanese dragons represent imperial and spiritual powers. In modern times however, the meaning of a Japanese dragon tattoo is usually good fortune, luck, strength, and spiritual powers.
If you are interested in further details of the many meanings of Japanese dragons I suggest literature about Japanese mythology and folklore as well as Japanese history and culture.
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