Cherry blossom tattoo designs – understanding the meaning of sakura
Cherry blossom tattoo designs, widely popular as sakura tattoos, are among the most popular floral tattoos inked all over the world. Sakura tattoos are closely related to the oriental culture. Perhaps, this plant can be safely called the oldest, most beautiful and most famous symbol of the Land of the Rising Sun. And indeed, the cherry blossom is fascinating and a tattoo with these delicate pale pink petals is incredibly beautiful. Cherry blossom tattoos are a typical choice for women, although some men also choose this design, usually combined with other elements. We selected some of the most impressive and beautiful sakura tattoo ideas and will help you understand the meaning behind the magnificent cherry tree blossom.
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Cherry blossom tattoo designs meaning and symbolism
In Japan, the cherry tree is accepted as a national symbol. It is the sign of samurais and everyone has heard of the festivals dedicated to the blooming cherry trees. To begin with, it should be noted that the meaning of a cherry tattoo is very different from the meaning of a cherry blossom tattoo. The blossoms symbolize tenderness, spiritual beauty, love while cherry fruits are associated with more sexual hints. Do not confuse tattoos with cherry fruits and sakura tattoos as their meaning and characters are completely different. Cherry blossoms are treated as purity, naivety and spirituality.
Japanese people were so fond of the delicate plant and its flowers that began to decorate their bodies with the image. Later this trend spread to other continents and nowadays you can see both women and men with branches of sakura on their arms, wrist, neck, even on their feet. However, it is worth understanding the meaning of sakura tattoo before applying it to your body, because the wise Japanese did not paint themselves just like that and each petal, each branch had a special secret meaning.
As you may know, earlier Japanese cherry trees grew mainly in the imperial gardens. High-ranked people spent their time under their shade and it was believed that a tattoo with cherry twigs on the human body speaks of the aristocratic origin of man, of his proximity to the emperor. Thus, the sakura tattoo on the back was a hint for noble blood.
Sakura can mean power and courage as well. The blossoms of this unusually beautiful tree appear much earlier than the leaves, which is a sign for the strength of sakura to unfavorable weather conditions. This meaning comes from a legend for a brave peasant who stood up to the cruel and ruthless master and he and his children were severely punished. The villagers found the man and his small children dead under a cherry tree and the blossoms became a symbol of courage as well as the blood of the innocent.
White color in Japan symbolizes sorrow, grief and sadness. Thus, a white sakura tattoo that loses its petals can symbolize the grief over a person who has prematurely left this world.
Since ancient times cherry blossom meant a transience of life. The color of the cherry on average lasts about a week, and then the gentle petals are easily blown by the wind. In the culture of Japan, this phenomenon is associated with the transience of human life, where every flower is someone’s broken life.
In Japan, sakura also symbolizes innocence and youth. It should be noted that the flowering time of this plant lasts only a few hours, so the Japanese consider Sakura a symbol of the fragility. On the other hand, this image has another meaning – it shows the strength of its master. The explanation for this contradictory meaning is simple – the cherry tree, despite its fragility, blooms in a very harsh climate. There is a belief that a sakura tattoo is suitable only for older women, while for girls, sakura does not bring anything good! On the contrary, with this tattoo their life and youth can become as short as the flowering of a cherry tree.
Cherry blossom tattoo designs – composition and elements
Cherry blossom tattoo designs come in many varieties of composition and can include different elements. Many people choose to add birds, butterflies, animals (a tiger, for example), dragons, koi fish, water waves, samurais and geishas, rarely skeletons and skulls, and every element adds its meaning to the tattoo. Those who prefer small tattoos can choose a single cherry blossom and people who prefer larger compositions may add elements like branches and leaves in order to achieve a cascading effect
A tattoo design in which sakura and kanji are combined may have different meanings, and it will be clear only after the translation of the kanji. Before doing a tattoo, it is better to consult a professional translator, so as not to get into an embarrassing situation later. A blossoming cherry twig is perfectly combined with the kanji for “happiness”. Sakura paired with the kanji for “tiger” can mean power, strength and wisdom.
Cherry blossom and koi fish is another popular tattoo design. Koi fish has its own deep symbolism. It represents determination, courage, good fortune, love and friendship.
Cherry blossom and birds tattoo designs look beautiful, especially with blossom buds, which are a symbol of youth and since birds represent freedom, the meaning of such tattoos is accepted as a beginning, a new life path.
The tattoo meaning depends on the color as well. You can use your imagination and choose red, pink, green or yellow. A variety of colors will make your tattoo bright and stylish. The most common cherry tree in Japan has delicate white blossom with the tiniest hint of pink but you could opt for a design in bold red color. The choice of color will depend on the shade of your skin, but it is advisable to have a template sketch and see how it looks on you. You need to choose the place for your sakura tattoo as well – small tattoos are suitable for any body part while large scale designs require more space and shoulders, back, leg or arm, chest are a better option.
How to choose the style of your sakura tattoo? On the first place – choose it as per your personal preference. Whether watercolor, Japanese style, blackwork or dotwork – the style of your tattoo has to suit you personally.
Sakura tattoo in watercolor style will give more tenderness and refinement to an already beautiful flower. This technique offers you an option for slightly blurred outlines and more delicate colors. The outline of the tattoo is often black, and the colored elements look a bit blurry, as if going out beyond the edge of the outline.
Black and white sakura tattoos are more popular among men because such a pattern emphasizes sensuality and at the same time looks restraint. Traditionally black color remains a classic in tattoo culture.
Japanese traditional style in the art of tattooing, in which characters from Japanese mythology are often present, is the logical choice for cherry blossom tattoos as this style most accurately conveys the traditions and culture of the mysterious East. Important distinguishing features of the oriental style are symmetry, accuracy of shapes and lines.
A tattoo in the style of realism would require a design which includes a fair bit of branch with flowers clumped together along it. Obviously, your personal preferences and taste will determine the exact design as well as where you intend the tattoo to be, but large or small, it will look like a real cherry blossom.
Minimalist tattoos are a good option for people who are not attracted to large scale designs. A tiny, gentle twig of sakura on the leg will be an excellent solution. Small sakura tattoos will look gorgeous on a wrist, hand, arm and ankle or behind the ear.
Optionally the blossoms can be tattooed in dotwork, black and gray or blackwork style, even Old School and New School.
You see, that like all tattoos, cherry blossoms have a deep meaning, and their symbolism can be different in different cultures. Enjoy the fantastic sakura tattoos in the gallery below!