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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. 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.
History reveals that the term Samurai was used for the military nobility which came into being before the industrial revolution in Japan. The word Samurai has actually been derived from the verb Saburau which actually means to serve. The Samurai under the Shogunate was to serve his Lord who was known as the Daimyo. The Daimyo held the position that was held by a duke in European culture.
The Samurai class was divided into three categories: the mounted warriors; the archers; and the foot soldiers. The prototype of the class had come into existence in the 6th century with the establishment of the shogunate system of governance in Japan. 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.
Samurai Martial Skills
The Samurai class was known for its extra ordinary martial arts skills. They were highly disciplined individuals trained in the deadliest art of fighting. The Shogun was able to win many battles with the help of the fighting skills of the Samurai. On the other side of their personality these fighting machines were trained in art and poetry. This unique mix of talents lends a mystique to the Samurai which is one of the reasons behind the success of Samurai tattoos.
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 samurai has been glorified in many movies and television series. 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.
The way of the warrior, which is known as "bushido", was also an integral part of the Japanese custom. To the people today the way of the warrior represents an individual that is fully equipped to take on the world. This is because after the 11th century the samurai class was trained to use the pen as well as the sword.
Japanese samurai tattoos are of various types. Tattoos that were popular amongst the Samurais themselves are also considered to be samurai tattoos. Then you have the more modern approach that actually depicts illustrations and abstractions of the samurai in action. Bushido tattoos in the Kanji script are also considered to be samurai tattoos and are by far the most popular amongst collectors.
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