Guardians: Japanese dragons are akin to the angels of Western culture, possessing superhuman strength, a fearless spirit, and divine wisdom.
Symbol of immortality: their ability both to create and to destroy represents the eternal cycle of life and death, as witnessed in nature.
Black, white, blue and red colored dragons are described as corresponding with the four elements (wind, earth, water and fire), as well as with the four directions (north, south, east and west).
Yellow dragons are considered a rare occurrence, with a reputation for staying aloof from humanity, only appearing at opportune moments. Understanding the different types of dragons, and what qualities they represent, can help you select a design that will best suit your personality. Like the Chinese dragon, the anatomy of a Japanese dragon is a combination of parts from a number of animals, with each part symbolizing a quality from the animal it represents. The only real difference is that Japanese dragons have only three digits on each extremity, while Chinese dragons have four or (usually) five.
The association with the imperial family provides insight to the nature of guardianship that Japanese dragons can symbolize.
Inking a design on the upper arm, with the dragon wrapping around the arm, then extending onto the chest or back, is another popular option. While inking the entire dragon is the most popular choice, tattoos featuring just the head of a Japanese dragon are another option.
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