These 8 Japanese Woodblock Inspired Tattoos Are Gorgeous Works Of Art


Do something different.

It wasn't too long ago that tattoos were considered to be taboo in the United States (and no I did not intend that rhyme, but it's staying).

The only people in America who got tattoos were people who were considered to be on the outside of society: sailors, circus performers, and hard drinking prostitutes. These are the only people who you would possibly expect to find covered in any ink. 

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Obviously, that's not the way things are anymore. What once was a deliberate attempt to embrace being an outsider who refused to play the strictures and phony good manners dictated by polite society is now something so common place that it feels like every single person you meet has a tattoo.

I knew that tattoos were no longer the domain of the bad asses of the world when I learned that my great aunt had Winnie the Pooh giving a thumbs up on her bicep. She is a crossing guard. I believe these things are the complete opposite of bad-assery. 

While the rebellious quality of tattoos might be a thing of the past, that doesn't mean I love getting inked any less. In fact, now that tattoos are a part of the mainstream, tattoo artists everywhere can really push themselves and create amazing works of art.

That's why we now live in a world where tattoo trends are a legitimate thing! 

You've probably been a little bit aware of one or two tattoo trends, you know, like best friend tattoos, or watercolor tattoos. The great thing about tattoo trends is that since tattoos are permanent, the trends themselves tend not to be stuff you'll be embarrassed about later: they're just so awesome that everyone jumps on board and gets one! Ain't no shame in that game. 

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The newest tattoo trend that has caught my eye are tattoos that are inspired by Japanese woodblock prints.

These tattoos have rich colors, use space in a unique way, can be traditional as heck, and at the same time definitely leave room for some fun and quirky modern twists.

The art of Japanese woodblock printing dates to the 8th century, and here are some examples of what I'm talking about:

If you're thinking about a new tattoo and don't know where to turn, hopefully these Japanese woodblock tattoo ideas will provide you with a little bit of inspiration. 

Nom nom nom
Photo: BrindiTattoo/Instagram

At first glance, everything about this tattoo says "traditional Japanese woodblock print." There's a traditional Japanese room, and you can peek out onto a beautiful courtyard. But look a little closer and you'll see the fun modern (and tasty) twist: a slushie drink and a pink donut! 

Photo: BrindiTattoo/Instagram

This tattoo might have the framing and coloring of a traditional Japanese woodblock print, but that's where the similarities end. See? You can have your tradition AND your voodoo Bart Simpson doll! Whee! 

Jurassic and fantastic
Photo: BrindiTattoo/Instagram

You might not associate dinosaurs with the rural Japanese countryside, but after one look at this tattoo, and all that is going to change. I've never wanted a dino tattoo as badly as I want one now. 

Moon river
Photo: BrindiTattoo/Instagram

The color and content of this tattoo are everything traditional Japanese woodblock prints are about. But because it's a tattoo they were able to play with the framing in a way that makes it look and feel so fresh and authentic. Loves it! 

UFO no!
Photo: BrindiTattoo/Instagram

The only way I could love a traditional Japanese woodblock print tattoo more? If there was a flying saucer making an appearance. Isn't it nuts how it looks like it belongs there? It can take me to its leader any day of the week. 

Traditional perfection
Photo: BrindiTattoo/Instagram

Something about this take on the Japanese woodblock print style tattoo evokes thoughts of tarot cards for me! "Evokes thoughts of tarot cards" what is this, a women's magazine where I'm trying to sell you perfume?! Whatever, I like it. 

Photo: BrindiTattoo/Instagram

I thought maybe the first alien in a traditional Japanese woodblock print inspired tattoo would be the only one to steal my heart. I was so wrong. Look at how this spaceship is abducting a buffalo! This is somehow both insanely funny and deeply pretty. 

Hip not to be square
Photo: BrindiTattoo/Instagram

Waves and mountains are common tropes in Japanese art (I learned the word trope in college to impress men in the English department). This traditional content has been made unique and engaging with a totally non-traditional shaped frame.