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To understand the symbolism and meaning that Japanese Samurai tattoos carry for the people of Japan it is important to know a little bit about the history of the class. History reveals that the term Samurai was used for the military nobility which came into being before the industrial revolution in Japan. Another major factor that has led to the popularity of Japanese samurai tattoos in more recent years is the role that the television media has played. The way of the warrior, which is known as "bushido", was also an integral part of the Japanese custom. Images within a samurai-inspired design can range from a single symbol to full-color, elaborate fighting scenes.
Large areas such as the back or the thigh are ideal areas for large renderings of samurai fighting scenes.
Other renderings include warriors clothed in traditional, long-flowing, ankle-length robes. Sampurais prided themselves on upholding a moral code named "Bushido", which means "Way of the Warrior". Rectitude - acting within the boundaries of righteousness and morality - always behaving with the utmost integrity.
Courage - not to be confused with bravery, samurai courage means doing the right thing, regardless of how difficult or improbable. Benevolence - the act of showing kindness and compassion to everyone, equally, regardless of one's station. The tenets of Bushido are often expressed in ink through single Japanese characters that represent the word for each tenet.
Samurai tattoos are often rendered in the traditional Japanese tattoo style made popular during the Edo period (1600-1868 AD). There is no doubt that Samurai tattoo designs have been very popular in Japan for many years now and the latest trends in the west have raised the popularity of Samurai tattoos even outside of Japan.

The word Samurai has actually been derived from the verb Saburau which actually means to serve.
The prototype of the class had come into existence in the 6th century with the establishment of the shogunate system of governance in Japan.
To the people today the way of the warrior represents an individual that is fully equipped to take on the world. Tattoos that were popular amongst the Samurais themselves are also considered to be samurai tattoos. To many, these samurai tattoos symbolize strength and courage, victory over adversity, and freedom of spirit. But smaller symbols, such as the mask or calligraphic symbols can be placed anywhere, in any color.
Considered to be military elite, samurai initially served the Japanese Emperor and nobility but eventually grew in numbers to form their own branch of government. Traditional armor, or "yoroi", consisted of lacquered strips of individual scales made of iron or leather bound together to create protective chest plates. The katana features a long, slender, single-edged curved blade with a long hilt that can accommodate a two-handed grip.
Tattoos of that era reflected the colorful woodblock illustrations of the popular epic Chinese novel, "Suikoden" which featured scenes of brave and heroic warriors in the midst of battle.
According to legend, the koi fish persistently swims upstream and is rewarded for its efforts by transforming into a dragon once it swims through the waterfall.
The Geisha is the ultimate feminine to the samurai's ultimate masculine, representing the gentility and beauty that balances the samurai warrior's strength and fierceness. The Samurai class had certain privileges in society: for example, they were exempted from taxes and duties as they provided security with their own weapons. The Shogun was able to win many battles with the help of the fighting skills of the Samurai.

Television being the number one educator for the youth in the west they have developed a liking and appreciation of the samurai and consequently the tattoo enthusiasts have gotten themselves stamped with samurai tattoo designs. This is because after the 11th century the samurai class was trained to use the pen as well as the sword. Then you have the more modern approach that actually depicts illustrations and abstractions of the samurai in action. The long blade allowed for long-range hand to hand fighting and was the signature weapon of the samurai.
The masks served several purposes:they protected the identity of the warrior and hid the emotions of the fighter.
Typically, the wingless eastern dragon is used and is often rendered holding a pearl of power and wisdom in one claw. Take advantage of thousands of visitors searching for tattoo designs and tattoo pictures every day! On the other side of their personality these fighting machines were trained in art and poetry. Bushido tattoos in the Kanji script are also considered to be samurai tattoos and are by far the most popular amongst collectors.
Samurai masks can serve as stand-alone designs or can be incorporated into a larger, more elaborate design.
This unique mix of talents lends a mystique to the Samurai which is one of the reasons behind the success of Samurai tattoos.

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