Cherry blossoms have been part of Japanese culture dating back to hundreds of years ago. Locally called sakura, the cherry blossom symbolizes the fragility of human life. Just like life, the cherry blossom is something so incredibly beautiful but fleeting. These flowers only bloom during the last weeks of March, and are celebrated during the Hanami Festival. If you’re thinking of having a cherry blossom tattoo, check out these Japanese cherry blossom tattoo meaning and designs below. You may get an idea or two on how yours would look like.
1. Realistic cherry blossom branch
A realistic “airbrushed” style of shading can only be done by skilled tattoo artists. Use warm tones like pink and red to achieve a blooming effect.
2. Whirlwind effect
Leaving out some spaces creates a dreamy effect that makes the flowers look magical. Extended branches at the top also adds a nice detail.
3. Monochromatic sketch
This tattoo style mimics an artist’s pen and ink sketch. The emphasis on the branches creates an eerie, darker vibe compared to cherry blossoms bustling with flowers.
4. Subtle painting
If a smaller tattoo is what you have in mind, this single flower draws you in because of the attention to detail and fine lines. The watercolor style is beautiful and uncommon.
5. Elbow flower
Tattooing in unusual places like the back of the arm is a cute choice. The flattering colored pencil style creates a realistic effect that works with any skin tone.
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6. Full shoulder tattoo
An entire cherry blossom tattoo from shoulder blade to biceps is perfect for summer days out in sleeveless shirts.
7. Ink blot spine tattoo
The ink blots of this tattoo mimic the use of a Japanese calligraphy brush, and the placement at the back is both sensual and balanced.
8. Japanese characters
You can accentuate your favorite Japanese quote with cherry blossoms. For those who do not speak or write Japanese, make sure you have your design consulted with a native speaker first!
9. Side torso blooms
Make your body one with the cherry blossom tree by making the branches crawl from the side of your torso to the back.
10. Collarbone branch
A clean horizontal tattoo using thin lines and watercolor shading along the collarbone is an elegant design that matches off-shoulder clothes.
11. Wrist brushstrokes
A colored tattoo without an outline creates a painted effect using oils or acrylic. The contrast of the pink flowers and the dark green leaves is an eye-catching sight paired with a watch or bracelets.
12. Black outline tattoo
Plain black tattoos are direct, simple and the best way to show a tattoo artist’s skill.
13. Forearm sakura branches
Forearm tattoos are easily seen without screaming for too much attention. The best part is that when you move your arms, the tattoo also moves, giving an impression of moving cherry blossom leaves.
14. The in-between arm tattoo
If you don’t want a tattoo that peeks out of long-sleeved shirts, adjust the height a little higher and have a tattoo on the inner side of your arm. It’s not as obvious as a forearm or a bicep tattoo, but is something that can be shown only to deserving eyes.
15. Blooming blossoms
Put spaces between the flowers enough to see the branches to connote a cherry blossom tree just at the onset of blooming. The design is clean, minimal and can signify new life.
16. Back shoulder tattoo
You can connect your cherry blossom tattoo to existing ones on your sleeve and spine, giving the illusion of one big artwork.
17. Say it with flowers
Bring a long passage to life by adding cherry blossom details as a border. Not only does it add color, it also makes the long statements easy on the eyes.
18. Red blossoms
Cherry blossoms are naturally light pink, but adding red as its main color gives it a stronger, more passionate feel. The falling petals give drama and motion to the design.
19. 2D cartoon flowers
When depicted in manga or anime, the cherry blossom tree has thick outlines with little shading. This is a fun and quirky version compared to serious brushstrokes you normally see.
20. Ankle blossoms
Ankle tattoos are associated with travel, so if you had a memorable trip to Japan, this may be a great idea.
21. Calf tattoo
Tattoos on the calf have the least amount of pain. If you have a low pain tolerance but want a beautiful, eye-catching cherry blossom tattoo, the calf is always a safe option.
22. Spray-painted flower graffiti
The airbrush technique can make your tattoo look like a piece of street art, just like in this arm piece.
23. Buddhism and cherry blossoms
If you would like to have your religious principles tattooed, consider adding a sprinkle of cherry blossoms to soften the image.
24. A stronger shoulder tattoo
While shoulder tattoos look great with branches and trees, take it a notch higher by making the design go all the way to the bicep and front of the shoulders. The roots in the branches also signify strength more than grace.
25. Stained glass flowers
The bold lines and shading of this tattoo is reminiscent of a stained glass painting, with the gradient branches contributing a 3D illusion.
26. Light flowers, dark branches
The use of white ink is uncommon, but creates a beautiful contrast with the black branches of this forearm tattoo.
27. A work in progress
This other version of a Buddha tattoo with cherry blossoms may be unfinished, but the surrounding flowers can already tell how great the piece is going to be.
28. Sharp strokes and rounded petals
The dark, long strokes of the branches give contrast to the beautiful round flowers in this tattoo.
29. Sakura sleeves
An entire sleeve made of sakura branches and flowers looks great with a style that is not too overpowering like this piece that looks like a pen drawing.
30. Thigh part
Thigh tattoos are very popular with women in Asia. It brings a whole new meaning to high slits like in this photo.
31. Neck, back…
From the neck to the back, this cherry blossom tattoo stands out with its blue shadows.
32. Symmetrical arm tattoos
Not a fan of putting tattoos just here and there? These symmetrical cherry blossoms with clean lines and shading is a dream come true for most people.
33. S is for sakura
Spell out letters by letting your cherry blossom tattoo dance to the stroke of the script.
34. Cover up your ventosa marks
One of the secret benefits of back tattoos is you can cover up your ventosa marks. The cherry blossom branches out, making the marks look natural.
35. The freedom in life
Bird tattoos represent freedom and the cherry blossom represents life. The two work in harmony to create a beautiful spring afternoon, something that is full of happy memories.
36. Inverted cherry blossom
This borderline abstract piece is a unique interpretation of the cherry blossom. Instead of the branches leaning up, it shows how the branches reach down.
37. Blowing in the wind
Portraying motion is a great way to have your own cherry blossom tattoo. The branches sway to the direction of the wind while the petals fall down to a pile, which can mean different things for the owner.
38. Full leg
The entire cherry blossom tree from the roots up can represent growth and stability. This tattoo may take more trips to the tattoo parlor than usual, but the end results are worth it.
39. Leg wrapped in sakura branches
Unlike other calf tattoos, this version with compressed branches gives an illusion of the tree wrapped around the leg. The use of color is more sophisticated, and the emblem of the tattoo artist adds to the oriental touch.
40. Your number one fan
Fans are evident in Asian culture and can depict a number of things from royalty, grace to flirtation. No matter the meaning, it is a good accompaniment to cherry blossoms with petals blowing in the wind.
41. Mr. Panda-stick
Technically, pandas would more likely climb bamboo than a sakura tree, but the effect would not be this adorable if it were the other way around!
42. Set it aside
This full piece on the side of the torso is both vibrant and sensual at the same time. The bottom part, which cannot be seen with pants, adds an air of mystery.
43. Full tree tattoo
Others have branches, others have flower buds, but a full tattoo of the cherry blossom tree with all its tiny details is a true test of a tattoo artist’s skill.
44. Memoirs of a geisha
Get inspired to do a Japanese-themed shoot when you cover your back with a beautiful sakura piece such as this!
Not all cherry blossoms need to look perfectly real. The imperfect lines and light strokes of this piece give a signature touch, accentuated bu the watercolor background.
46. Anime style
The lush colors and perfect shading of this piece looks like a cherry blossom branch that fell off the closing credits scene of your favorite anime.
Earrings are not the only things you can wear on your ears. This discreet location is gaining popularity with women nowadays. While it may be painful, it is acute accent that peeks when you tuck your hair.
48. Shoulder blade
This is an artist interpretation of the cherry blossom that looks dark with the moody black strokes and the petals that look like drops of blood. Even with the concept, it still looks amazing and is a more serious version of the usual pink, rounded petals.
Like the calf tattoos, wrist tattoos do not hurt as much, and is a good gateway tattoo. The location is very visible, but can also be easily be hidden with a watch or some bracelets.
50. Cherry blossom bouquet
Cherry blossoms look good on their own, but look even better when mixed with a variety of blooms that complement the sakura.
51. Rise up
Playing with the lines of the body is a good way to achieve symmetry with your tattoos. Trace along the spine for a sensual, artistic tattoo design. These go best with halter or backless tops.
52. A mix of the pinks and the reds
Combine pinks and reds for the flower petals to break monotony and to balance the artificial lines of your cherry blossom tattoo.
53. A splash of color
Tired of the pinks and the reds? Why not use all the colors! This piece uses other tones for its shadows without losing the essence of the cherry blossoms by isolating the warm colors to the petals.
54. Ink blots and a few strokes
The cherry blossom is the perfect design to experiment with watercolor tattoos. Break a cliche look with a dash of a contrasting color like the blue paint dash on this forearm tattoo.
55. Branch it out
This abstract version focuses its details on the branches of the sakura tree, instead of the petals. The flowers are just accents of faded watercolor stains which look great on the bold blacks of the branches.
56. A variety of sizes
For a more festive look, use a variety of shapes and sizes for your flowers. This piece uses four to five flower sizes, adding variety to a big piece to cover the entire back.
57. In full bloom
Another great way to portray the cherry blossoms is by exaggerating the size of the petals a bit without overdoing it. The petals in this piece are bigger compared to the branch, but it’s hardly noticeable because they eyes are automatically drawn to the flowers.
58. Flowers in the dark
Cherry blossoms are often remembered under the light of the sun. Many do not realize the beauty of the trees under the light of the full moon, as shown in this back tattoo.
59. Orange ink blots
This cherry blossom print looks like it was made for a beautiful piece of fabric. The use of ink blots like in paper prints is ingenious, but the subtle orange shading makes this tattoo stand out from the rest.
Have you found a peg or two to use as a springboard for your cherry blossom tattoo? Show this article to your tattoo artist and he or she can help you brainstorm for your Japanese cherry blossom tattoo meaning and designs.