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I have just finished my Koi fish and want to keep going up my arm. I have a few things that are semi small tattoos on a few spots up my arm already. I want to try and keep it as much of a Japanese theme as I honestly can. I wanted ideas of Japanese things that aren't common, I have already the koi so I figured I want to get some things that are not common japenese tattoos to add to my future sleeve. Let me know your ideas, thanks!

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I had to do the Koi, I love them. I was thinking a mask but they are also pretty common. Maybe even just get a snake wraping around what I already have and just get a filler to fill in empty space such as waves and cherry blossom flowers. My next project before this is a lotus flower in the empty space right next to my Koi. If I do the snake it will really be the only thing that I will really be able to put on the arm before it's full. If I do a mask I can probably get some flowers and maybe the dog also. Hmmm.

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Hannya, foo dog, skull, octopus, etc are not very common, but I do say things are common for a reason (they look good).

When researching what to get for a Japenese tattoo I suggest looking at old Japanese artwork (woodblock prints), as this is the same source for tattoos.

Amazon.com: Japanese Woodblock Prints: Artists, Publishers and Masterworks: 1680 - 1900 (9784805310557): Andreas Marks, Stephen Addiss: Books

Amazon.com: Masterpieces of Japanese Prints: Ukiyo-e from the Victoria and Albert Museum (9784770023872): Rupert Faulkner: Books

Amazon.com: Japanese Prints: The Art Institute of Chicago (Tiny Folio) (0735738061374): James T. Ulak: Books

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Shunga, Tsuba, Hammer, Scroll, Peach, Benzaiten etc, etc. But it's a good idea to know what it is you're getting rather than just designs you think are uncommon.

Popularity of designs changes. over the last year I've done less Koi than any other subject. Including shunga, foo dogs, snakes, cranes, ritual objects etc.

But really, you should get more Koi. Nothing goes better with Koi than more Koi. Better still, ask Hunter, I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

It's one of my many personal pet peeves when I see a Japanese style sleeve was designed as a collection of random objects, forced together with water or clouds, rather than a single coherent layout.

Even when a sleeve is composed of 'scattered' smaller elements like single flowers, masks, lucky charms etc, etc, it's still planned with consideration of the whole composition. A Japanese sleeve, even before it's fully completed will have less 'gaps' than you think it does.

The elegance and timeless look of Japanese (or any Oriental-influenced) tattoos comes from the coherence of the overall layout, (worked out over a couple of centuries). I would go as far to say the coherence of the whole of the wearer's body. That elegance and beauty doesn't come from stacking objects like tetris or lego.

Good luck.

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Maybe instead of the hanya you do a whole Oni? Something like this maybe?

Ogre_mage.jpg

Maybe a baku? They are like flying elephant/sabretooth tiger things that protect people's dreams and ward off evil spirits.

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I don't see many foo dogs. Octopus and Hannya masks are a little more common, but still less common that Koi and Dragons.

I don't think Octopus is very popular outside from the beach and Jesse's shop. I bet he gets asked to do a lot of Octopus because ofhis own killer Filip Leu sleeve.

There was a time I though Kitsune were uncommon,then I read a couple of artists websites where the artist said they were tired of doing foxes.

I had artists tell me they were their own worst enemy by posting pictures of their latest 'eagle' tattoo and everyone would come in wanting an eagle and they get caught in a cycle of boredom and monotony.

I think whats common is a matter or relativity. Some guys have done more than enough lady heads fortheir lifetime and cant wait to get asked to do a koi!

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Matt what ever you choose, promise to not use the references that @Hunter Morrow has posted. Yes, art is subjective - but that's not Japanese. Subject matter he's suggested sure, I myself have a Kirin (and a hannya, a koi, a chrysanthemum and a turtle and so on lol) but those images are pretty bad. (Just to be fair though, was anyone else thinking the same thing?)

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What @Stewart Robson said. Since you have a water theme going on, another koi would tie in really well. If you don't want to double up, maybe kingyo would work too. Some people get dragon-koi. Basically listen to Stewart though with regards to coherence. Best advice.

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Matt what ever you choose, promise to not use the references that @Hunter Morrow has posted. Yes, art is subjective - but that's not Japanese. Subject matter he's suggested sure, I myself have a Kirin (and a hannya, a koi, a chrysanthemum and a turtle and so on lol) but those images are pretty bad. (Just to be fair though, was anyone else thinking the same thing?)

Ditto. No offense to the art or Hunter, but I honestly tend to be an anal traditionalist when it comes to Japanese tattoos. And those images were...not. Even as examples of modern takes on the subject matter, I wouldn't have thought those were Kirin at all if I just saw the image. Just something for Matt to think about.

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Maybe instead of the hanya you do a whole Oni? Maybe a baku? They are like flying elephant/sabretooth tiger things that protect people's dreams and ward off evil spirits.

Hey you, get off my ideas! Now everyone is going to be walking around with onis and bakus.

If the OP wants uncommon ideas, check out this Horiyoshi III website. This guy has an amazing bodysuit.

TATTOO/IREZUMI/ART/'Oukoshisei' - the traditional Japanese art of Irezumi(tattoo)

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Well, I was letting the geek flag fly for the references. Its Dungeons and Dragons and Magic:The Gathering are so it would be a bit of a shocker if they looked like traditional Chinese and Japanese versions of Onis and Qilin/Kirin.

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Well, I was letting the geek flag fly for the references. Its Dungeons and Dragons and Magic:The Gathering are so it would be a bit of a shocker if they looked like traditional Chinese and Japanese versions of Onis and Qilin/Kirin.

Cool, I've been known to geek it out also, however I have no idea how those images would have translated to a tattoo if he'd liked them? It is a tattoo forum after all, and he was looking for japanese tattoo ideas ;) And I'm sorry, but those where the worst Kirins' I've ever seen.

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Would a Foodog or Hannya mask be solid to get with some cherry blossoms and a lotus?

Is this for the same sleeve that has the Koi? Or are we moving to the other side now?

The beauty for us not being Japanese or having Japanese heritage (ok, the latter is a presumption on my part but lets go with it) we don't have to be bound by traditions and you can take a few little artistic liberties with your tattooer ;)

My suggestion would be read up on as much reference material as you can, and take notes (I did) Find out what motifs either a) you have a strong connection with or b) you think are simply bad ass and go with them.

If you wanted to be a stiffler for tradition, then you couldn't get ShiShi with Sakura, only Botan (Peonies) But I think a Lotus could work as it's a chinese flower? ( @Stewart Robson at a guess I'd say you'd know a lot more on this than I and could shed more light?) But as I said earlier, we can get away with a few of these 'mistakes' If you do your research, know the history and have your own desires for the images then you've educated yourself and it's what YOU want. Know the history, respect it and then do what you want lol (not exactly like that but anyway...)

I'm trying to find an article online by Matt Cunnington called (funnily enough) "Talking ShiShi" it cohesively explains the point I was just trying to make, and a hell of a lot better than I just did haha. If anyone can find it, please post and you get extra points!

One other thing I will say though is - Don't try and clutter things up to much. Less can be more ;) BUT your tattooer should be able to help out there.

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Well, I was letting the geek flag fly for the references. Its Dungeons and Dragons and Magic:The Gathering are so it would be a bit of a shocker if they looked like traditional Chinese and Japanese versions of Onis and Qilin/Kirin.

What @Duffa said in his post and like I said, I'm just plain anal, so don't mind me.

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The beauty for us not being Japanese or having Japanese heritage (ok, the latter is a presumption on my part but lets go with it) we don't have to be bound by traditions and you can take a few little artistic liberties with your tattooer

Dang! I actually am Japanese! Well 4th gen ABJ so I'm sure some Japanese think of me as being a plain ol "gringo". But gringo-fied or not I feel like I have to at least try to get it right. If I didn't it'd be like getting kanji that translates as a dinner menu instead of meaning "courage" or "honor". On non-Japanese it'll look odd and garner a few laughs, on someone ethnically Japanese it'll almost be tragic.

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