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So how (as a customer) are you supposed to know the difference between a quality tattoo shop and a ‘fly-by-night’ operation that may not be there in a week?
Need an artist or shop recommendation?Give us a description of the tattoo you're looking for and we'll try to match you up with a great local artist or shop! This is one of the reasons that the Japanese tattooing tradition has persisted for so long and has appealed to so many outside of Japanese culture.
Featuring shops such as South Side Tattoo, Inka Dinka Doo, Jester’s Court Tattoos, Wyld Chyld Tattoo, Tattoo Noir, and Gypsy Tattoo Parlor, Pittsburgh is a great destination if you’re looking for some new ink. If you’re thinking about getting a Japanese tattoo, then we recommend reading this guide to get acquainted with the meaning of traditional Japanese tattoos and their meaning.
With a population of around 306,200, there are lots of potential customers for the parlors in town. Over time, tattoos in Japanese culture developed as a form of punishment similar to what was seen in Rome where it was common practice to tattoo prisoners of war, criminals, and slaves as a means of making their status in society instantly recognizable. Google Places lists 333 different tattoo shops in the Pittsburgh area, which shows how competitive the city truly is. Wyld Chyld Tattoo currently boasts one of the best selection of artists in the area, featuring Sarah Miller, Allie Nickel, Ryan Clark, Dmitry Rusky, Whitney Schiller, and Seth Holmes. When doing research for your artist, we suggest not paying too much attention to price because quality is much more important when you’re going to be living with the artwork for the rest of your life.


The modern association between Japanese traditional tattoos and the criminal element is said to have led to the adoption of tattoos by the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. These images are used to convey a person’s beliefs, aspirations, or character traits.
In Japanese traditional tattoo art, dragons are generous, benevolent forces that use their strength to do good for mankind.
Koi are a specially bred type of carp, a fish native to China, where the Koi actually originates.
Koi are given masculine qualities in traditional Eastern folklore such as strength and bravery. Most of us are familiar with the story of the Phoenix, a bird that is consumed by fire and then rises from its own ashes.
Many are not aware that the story exists in many cultures and at many times throughout history including Greek and Roman mythology, Middle Eastern folklore, and even the Americas. The Japanese phoenix story draws its source from the story that’s indigenous to mainland China. Snake tattoos also represent wisdom and protection, particularly from the results of bad decisions. The snake can also embody regeneration, healing, and medicine as it was revered in Japanese culture in association with medicinal rites and remedies.


As a symbol of good luck, it was also though to bring good health.The Japanese snake tattoo also represents the Divine Feminine, or the holy female attributes. It was thought that much in the same way a snake sheds its skin, a woman could take on the positive attributes of a man.
One instance of this would include a monk who becomes an Oni after death to protect his temple.
Oni, in traditional Japanese folklore, we marauding ogres known for terrorizing villages and tormenting villagers.
Their association with demons in Japanese tattoo art has more to do with ogres being grouped into the realm of supernatural creatures (along with yokai) than anything else. Specifically, waves are an element of Japanese tattoo art that are perhaps among the most recognizable (Think traditional Japanese artists, like Hokusai). The image of water in Japanese traditional tattoos is often combined with Koi, Dragons, or Oni.
In addition to symbolizing strength and life, water tattoos convey the belief that life, like water, ebbs and flows.



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