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Tattoos of Japanese Cherry Blossoms

Feb 28th 2008
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I have included more images of Tattoos at the bottom of the post.

Why Cherry Blossom Tattoos

  1. The cherry blossom is very prevalent in classical Japanese tattooing and has a very definite symbolic meaning.
  2. The cherry blossom is also a common symbol in traditional Japanese woodblock art dating back many centuries, and as a consequence is often featured in Japanese tattooing which has drawn artistic inspiration from the woodblock prints for several centuries.
  3. In Japan, cherry blossoms (sakura) are a metaphor for life. A brief, brilliant blooming, followed by the inevitable fall.
  4. Cherry blossom is a symbol of female beauty and sexuality. Additionally, the cherry blossom is the Chinese symbol of feminine principal it also symbolized love in a language of herbs.

Cherry Blossom tattoo design meanings.

Bushido, the samurai’s code, takes the cherry blossom as its emblem. The blooming of the cherry tree is the purest manifestation of beauty in Japanese culture, but then the blossom swiftly fades and is scattered by the wind. This is the perfect death for a true warrior, who has lived with constant awareness and acceptance of the precariousness and transitory nature of existence. The essence of Bushido, or the Way of the Warrior, is that the true Samurai lives every day knowing it may well be his last. A samurai’s motto is, “This is a good day to die”. The cherry blossom as a tattoo design is a powerful reminder that life is fleeting and we must live in the present and cherish every waking moment, for it may well be our last.

The Spring equinox is the time of cherry blossoms, a season of religious celebrations that feature invocations for a plentiful harvest. In this respect, the cherry blossom is seen as a symbol of prosperity and good luck. While the cherry fruit was a dominant symbol on a samurai’s sword sheath, it’s the blossom of the tree that’s quintessentially Japanese and which figures prominently in Japanese tattoo art.

More information.

Cherry Blossom Tattoo – More often than not, when cherry blossoms appear in tattoo artwork, they do not appear alone. That sometimes seems a shame, for two reasons: their appearance and their meaning. The delicate and subtle beauty of these small blossoms is easily overwhelmed by the large and ornate Japanese sleeves, backpieces, and body suits in which they typically float as backdrop elements . Even so, the centuries old Japanese tattoo tradition from which they spring, and where they are still firmly rooted, has essentially formalized their use in that way. But while their ability to stand alone as design elements may have been circumscribed by custom, their powerful symbolism has taken on a life of its own. As Motoori Norinaga, noted Japanese scholar of the 18th century, wrote in a poem, “If I were asked to define the spirit of Japan, I would call it the blossom of the mountain cherry, scattering its scent in the morning sun.” For the Japanese, the beautiful period of its flowering and then the all too soon fading and subsequent scattering of petals on the wind, symbolizes life itself – but not life in some abstract and distant sense. The fragility of the cherry blossom is the fragility of human existence; its brief period of life, like our own; its implacable movement toward death, indifferent to the good things of this world, is the ideal death for a samurai warrior; and finally, its individual and perfect beauty is also ours.

The cherry blossom is famous in Japanese poetry, in prose, and in most of the graphic arts. It has become the symbol for all that is transient and evanescent in life. The blossoms appear in all of their beauty for only a day or two. Then they are scattered by the winds and rains. This loveliness lasts for but so short a time: how like life itself, where all things are ephemeral. It is said that the samurai adopted the cherry blossom as a personal insignia, indicating that they might well die in battle the next day. “The cherry blossom as a symbol thus has quasi-philosophical associations . . . of the same order as those attributed to, for example, the red rose in Western tattooing. There the message is undying love, eternal fidelity, and a degree of transcendence over mundane life. In Japan the cherry blossom implies a different kind of transcendence from that in the West. One acknowledges natural forces and quietly celebrates one’s own evanescent qualities. The implications for a man wearing the intricate cherry-blossom pattern are that he is in accord with the nature of things, sad though this nature may be; that his own flesh is as fragile as the petals of the blossom.”The cherry blossom continues to be a popular image in Western interpretations of Japanese style tattooing, often seen gracefully floating intact or with the blossom’s petals scattered through wind or waves that form the background behind larger figurative images that comprise the tattoo.

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One Comment

  1. ray thatcher

    happy 39th b’day

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