All authentic Japanese tattoos were made by hand; they use tebori, which is a group of handmade needles. These needed were attached to metal or wooden handles. This practice was very popular, but it took a lot of mastering. In the mid 1800’s, this process was very extensive and time consuming. In fact, it could take up to five years to finish a Japanese tattoo! Moreover, a tebori would cause more harm and bruising than the tattoo machines used today. Despite the fact that Japanese tattoos were very painful, many still underwent the procedure.
All Japanese tattoos are symbolic. For example, Japanese koi tattoos or carp tattoos highlight wisdom and endurance; this is because these fish outlive most humans. In the Japanese culture, dragon tattoos bring luck. In a country that relies heavily on the growing of rice crops and rain, lucky tattoos are very common and popular.