The modern tattoo industry is bursting with interesting and exciting new tattoo styles. Watercolor and photoshop style tattoos have taken the tattoo world by storm and sparked adoration from some while receiving ridicule and scorn from tattoo purists.
Tattoos done in a single color other than black have also seen a surge in popularity as inks improve. But will any of these modern tattoo styles endure to receive a place among the classic giants Japanese style tattoos?
As exciting as the new and shiny can be, the classics are classics for a reason. They’ve endured the test of time and secured their place in the tattoo hall of fame. As a nod to the classics, we’d like to take a moment to dive a little deeper into Japanese style tattoos by taking a look at one of the most prominent figures from Japanese mythology often depicted in classic Japanese style tattoos, the god of wind, Fujin.
Who is Fujin?
If you’re a fan of Japanese art or tattoos, chances are you’ve encountered an image of Fujin before. Fujin has been a popular subject for Japanese tattoos for as long as we can remember. But just who is this deity proudly depicted in back or arm pieces throughout the world? Fujin is the Japanese god of wind. He is often depicted as an oni, which is a demon-like figure. In Japanese mythology, there is no definitive line between good and evil deities, with gods often possessing both good and evil qualities and being just as prone to mischief as wonder. Fujin is often shown with glowing green or blue skin and disheveled hair. He is usually dressed in leopard skin and carries either a bag of wind or an enchanted tapestry which he uses to control air currents.
Fujin is often seen alongside his brother Raijin. Raijin is the Japanese god of thunder, who is often seen holding hammers surrounded by drums, which are used to summon the thunder. Raijin has three fingers on each hand versus Fujin’s four. Raijin’s three fingers represent past, present, and future while Fujin’s fingers represent the four directions of the wind, north, south, east, and west.
These gods are considered especially powerful in Japan, where great storms have the ability to wreak havoc on the small island nation. It is said that Fujin and Raijin are rivals, and when a disagreement forms between them this causes the sky to darken and the storms to come as they unleash their wrath upon each other.
Where does the Myth of Fujin Originate?
The origins of Fujin can actually be traced all the way back to Greek mythology. During the Hellenistic period when Greece occupied many parts of India and Central Asia, the Greek god Boreas who was the god of the cold north wind and the bringer of winter was adopted in the region and became the god Wardo in Greco-Buddhist art. From there, Wardo became a wind deity in China before being renamed Fujin and adopted by the Japanese.
Through he went by different names while gracing different cultures, many characteristics of his appearance remained the same, including his disheveled appearance and symbolic wind bag. Now, most former variations of Fujin are largely forgotten while the Japanese god continues to appear in countless art and throughout temples in Japan to this day.
How to Choose an Artist when Contemplating a Fujin Tattoo
If you’re considering a tattoo of this powerful Japanese god, it's important to pick an artist who is up to the task. Traditional Japanese style tattoo art is most often done in large format pieces that require excellent attention to detail and precision. Many tattoo artists devote their careers to Japanese style art, and we feel like this dedication can usually be seen and felt in their work. It's always a good idea to seek out an artist with experience in a particular style when planning a large piece.
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