Japanese tattooing is one of my favorite styles in this artform, and I am honored to feature today Brian Kaneko, who is one of the best Japanese traditional artists, without question.  He is the owner of True Nature Tattoo shop in Arcata California, but is often a guest artist at New York Adorned when he is in town.

As exemplified in Brian’s work, a well constructed Japanese piece should be fluid with the shape of the body as if it was specifically tailored for that person. His tattoos are meticulously designed and executed with such precision, I dare you to find any flaws.

Most people choose this style for it’s beauty and strong recognizable imagery. However, they are probably not aware of the specific rules that need to be adhered to in this particular style, which is based on the cultural significance of the subject matter, the appropriate pairing of images and it’s location on the body. Let’s take the Koi fish for example, which is the most commonly used image in Japanese tattooing, representing strength and good fortune. In the Japanese tradition, Koi fish are known for swimming upstream during the fall as if on a mission, demonstrating absolute power and perseverance. Therefore if you were to get an arm sleeve, the flow of the Koi fish will typically go up the arm with the use of “finger” waves for background, and is normally paired with maple leaves or chrysanthemums.

Enough of the educational nonsense; if you want a strong badass tattoo from a real professional, Brian is your man!


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