Raijin Tattoos and the Meaning Behind Them

There’s nothing like the threatening rumble of an approaching thunderstorm. Black clouds roll across the sky, electricity lights up the night, and a rolling, growling sound echoes from somewhere inside the storm. Animals cower; children cuddle closer to their parents; everyone pauses to admire the power of the storm.

In Japanese mythology, Raijin is the god of lightning and thunder. He’s often pictured as a massive, plotting, demon-like creature travelling along the clouds. If you’re looking for a tattoo that communicates power, dominance, and fearlessness, a Raijin tattoo may fit your personality.

Keep reading to learn about the origins of Raijin, the mythology behind his storms, and his modern-day representation in tattoos. If you’re ready to add Rajin to your back or sleeve, visit one of our tattoo shops to find out how we can incorporate this Asian tattoo into your existing tattoo designs.

Chronic Ink - Tristen - Raijin Back Piece

What is Raijin?

Rajin is the god of lightning, thunder, and storms in the Shinto religion.

He looks like a frighteningly-strong man, with horns or antlers on his head. His face is always full of mischief or outright malice—he’s not known to be friendly. His skin is an angry red color, and he holds a drum in his three-fingered hands. The drum is for creating thunder; the three fingers represent past, present and future.

What is the story behind Raijin in Japanese mythology?

Raijin carries an intriguing backstory. Japanese mythology teaches that Raijin was the child of two gods, Izanagi and Izanami. Together, these two created both a family and a set of beautiful Pacific islands (Japan).

Unfortunately, like many women in early history, Izanami died in childbirth. The grieving Izanagi visited the underworld to attempt to bring her back, only to find she can never return to the world of the living. Izanagi, desperate to see his wife one last time, lit a torch—and discovered the underworld had morphed Izanami from a beautiful goddess to a horrible creature.

Izanami, understandably, felt mortified. She created Raijin to chase Izanagi as she herself could not leave the underworld to chase Izanagi herself.

Raijin, as a child of the gods, has many brothers and sisters. However, his chief rivalry is with his brother Fujin. Fujin is the god of wind. He looks similar to Raijin, and is often depicted side-by-side with Raijin in Japanese art.

Though Raijin appears threatening, he doesn’t always desire to harm humanity. The Japanese place his image at the entrance of temples and shrines for protection. Sometimes, rice farmers still pray to Raijin for rain.

One unexpected tradition surrounding Raijin involves navels—yes, navels. Apparently, Raijin treats them like a fine delicacy. Parents will often tell their children to cover up their stomach to hide their belly buttons from Raijin so he won’t eat them.

What does Raijin symbolize?

Sculptures of Raijin are displayed to provide protection and peace to those inside places of worship. Raijin is seen as a powerful warrior, fighting for those who trust him for their safety.

As Raijin is also partially trusted with the rain for rice crops, he symbolizes provision. Raijin’s storms allow the Japanese to grow the food they need to thrive. In the past, farmers believed lightning provided the best fertilization for a rice crop; therefore, Raijin was especially instrumental in determining whether a crop succeeded or failed.

Raijin also symbolizes constant strife. He wages a never-ending war with Fujin for dominance of the sky, tossing his lightning against Fujin’s wind.

Tony Hu - Raijin Tattoo Sleeve in Progress

Should I get a Raijin tattoo?

If you’re entranced by the power of a thunderstorm or intrigued by Japanese mythology, a Raijin tattoo might be the ink you need.

A Raijin tattoo is often a vibrant red color, surrounded by menacing charcoal clouds and bright lightning. He’s often depicted with his drum in his hands, passionately pounding out the rhythm of the storm.

Our tattoo designs range from traditional Japanese tattoo art to modernized mythology, with everything in-between. If you’re not interested in a Raijin tattoo in his traditional form, but you want a depiction of the god of lightning and thunder, talk with our tattoo artists. We’ll create something that fits your aesthetic style while incorporating this important figure from Asian culture and Japanese mythology.

Ready to get your new tattoo?

At Chronic Ink, we have some of the best tattoo artists in Toronto & Vancouver focusing on Asian Tattoo Design We welcome walk-ins for consultations at our Downtown Toronto, Midtown Toronto, Markham and Newmarket locations. No appointment necessary or contact us and let us know your idea today.

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