In Japanese art and tattooing, the aquatic element has always had a fundamental role and a very important metaphorical, artistic and aesthetic value.

The sea waves, often represented in paintings as well as in tattoos, are a symbol of life and of the ocean power. They represent fluidity and eternal movement, but also the ever-changing nature of existence.

Regino Gonzales, Good Luck NYC, New York, USA
Regino Gonzales, Good Luck NYC, New York, USA

Not surprisingly, “The Great Wave” by Hokusai (1830-1831) is one of the most famous and beloved painting in the world, but many artists in all eras have relentlessly represented and interpreted this particular subject.

Ching, Orient Ching Tattoo, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
Ching, Orient Ching Tattoo, Kaohsiung, Taiwan

In fact, waves are also one of the most popular tattoo design: a beautiful background pattern as well as an essential part of traditional Japanese tattoo design. They are a focus of study for all tattooists.

Take a look at our gallery and choose your favorite wave tattoo!

If you’re looking for some fresh inspiration don’t miss WAVES by Filip Leu: not just a marvellous collection of illustrated plates, but above all a fundamental compendium dedicated to one of the most important subjects in Oriental iconography. DISCOVER MORE >>