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The 50 Best Japanese Cat Tattoos

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Do you want to get a cat tattoo? Do you love felines and are you passionate about Japanese art and culture? Would you like to know more about these tattoos and have many examples to inspire you?

We also love this whole universe and we will try to answer your questions as best as possible

In this article, you will discover:

  • What these different tattoos mean and the Japanese folklore around these animals
  • A multitude of examples

You will now be able to choose the design and location that suits you best, in order to keep a design on your skin that you will not regret!

Let's not waste any more time and find out together!

Cat earrings

Japanese Cat Tattoo Meaning

Japanese tattoos are linked to the culture and folklore of this country, several legends are associated with cats. Depending on their posture and expressions, these animals can express different things.

Let’s discover and decipher the best known together:

1. Maneki-Neko Tattoo

You obviously know this cat, generally white or golden, with leavened dough in action, which generally greets you present in shops or as decoration. But aside from being funny and cute, what does it actually mean?

First of all, you should know that “Maneki-Neko” translates “Cat that invites” in French, because contrary to popular belief this cat does not greet us, in reality it invites us to approach. It appeared in the Edo period (1603-1868) in Tokyo, then began to appear in other countries, starting in the United States with the first waves of Asian immigration.

Depending on its color, this little cat has a different meaning, but it is mainly known for bringing luck, happiness and prosperity to its owner .

So if you are someone with a welcoming nature, you are rather sensitive to beliefs and you want to attract luck and make a fortune, a Maneki-Neko tattoo could be perfect for you.

Here are some examples you can take inspiration from:

Maneki Neko Tattoo

2. Bakeneko Tattoo

Much less known than the Maneki-Neko in the West, the Bakeneko which translates “Monster Cat” in French is a centuries-old superstition on the archipelago. This legend from Japanese folklore describes a cat with supernatural powers that it obtains by meeting one or more conditions:

  • He is over 13 years old
  • It weighs more than 1 kan (Japanese unit of measurement which is equivalent to 3.5 kg)
  • He has a very long tail

This evil creature is part of the Yokai family, supernatural creatures or malevolent spirits very present in Japanese culture.

In Japanese mythology, this animal has the power to transform into a human, to pronounce words, but also to take possession of a human body and make people dance.

This is why the meaning of a Bakeneko tattoo is very personal, it's up to you to interpret it as you wish! Additionally, an outsider who does not have sufficient knowledge of Japanese culture and folklore will undoubtedly ask you questions about its meaning.

Bakeneko Tattoo

3. Nekomata Tattoo

Like the Bakeneko, the Nekomata is a type of cat-shaped Yokai from Japanese folklore. The two can easily be confused, but we will differentiate them together.

Nekomata's first appearance was recorded in the Meigetsuki journal of Fujiwara no Teika in 1233 , where he described seeing an animal with "eyes like a cat, and a body like a dog", killing and eating several people in one night.

In the book Tsurezuregusa , it is told that there are also pet cats that age, which can transform, kidnap and eat people.

These very old, very big and really mean cats are therefore much more powerful and naughty than Bakeneko. They are often associated with death in Japan and are even said to have necromancy powers, they could control the dead after resurrecting them.

Here are some Nekomata tattoos :

Nekomata Tattoos

Kazuaki Horitomo tattoo

Do you know Kazuaki Horitomo ? This man is an extremely famous Japanese tattoo artist who decided to combine his passion for art with his passion for cats. In the 90s, his wife brought home a cat, and he immediately fell in love with the feline. He then took inspiration from his animal (Ginnan) for his works of art.

Kazuaki believes that by drawing these beasts he has access to their spiritual power . He then created numerous drawings or tattoos showing cats interacting, here are some of them:

Kazuaki Horitomo Tattoo

Temporary Tattoos (An alternative solution)

Before getting a tattoo, you must be sure of your choice. Some of these designs may be uniquely beautiful, which will make you happy and turn your skin into a real work of art, but others may, on the contrary, not suit you.

If you still have uncertainties, we strongly advise you to test several designs and locations using our temporary cat tattoos . They will allow you to more easily visualize the final result , without the risk of having to go through a tiring treatment to make it disappear.

Discover this collection by clicking on the image below:

List of Japanese Feline Tattoos

To help you make your choice, our team has tried to bring together the 50 best tattoos in the shape of cats in Japanese design .

And above all, don't hesitate to enlarge the images, download them, or even print them to show them to your tattoo artist if you like the design.

Choose your tattoo wisely

With the multitude of models that we have presented to you, you now have an overview of the different designs combining Japanese culture and cats.

We know that this decision is very important, which is why we hope that you were able to find a model that suits you or at least that you were able to have tattoo ideas that you can later personalize as you wish.

If you are inspired by the meaning of cat tattoos and want to embrace this unique symbolism, we invite you to discover our superb collection of cat paintings available on our site. Whether you prefer realistic depictions, abstract works or artistic illustrations, our collection will captivate cat lovers and art enthusiasts. Don't hesitate to visit our site to find the perfect work to accompany you on your personal journey.

Cat paintings

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