20 Theatrical Japanese Mask Tattoos

jentheripper in Tattoo Ideas

New ideas for the next tattoo, interesting Japanese mask tattoos that are endless source of inspiration for elegant and badass tattoos...

There are different types of theater in Japanese culture, and they are often mistaken by foreigners. A simple way to differentiates them is to remember Kabuki theater's actors wear make-up and Noh theater's actors wear masks. There is also an humorous type of theater called Kyogen and traditional dances that use masks. People fascinated by Japan mainly find their inspiration in Noh theater (but not only) for their Japanese mask tattoos. Noh means talent. Practiced in Japan since the 14th century, it is a beautiful and refined art with complex codes. There is more than 450 different types of masks, each for different characters, heroes of legends or spirits of Japanese folklore. In tattoo art, the most famous type of mask is the Onryo. With its creepy grin and horns, it reminds Westerners of their Devil. The most famous Onryo is indeed Hannya, this female spirit of jealousy. All kind of Onryo in general are ghosts or revengeful spirits. The demons, such as Tengu, are called Kishin.

Other coveted Japanese mask tattoos are inspired by the Onna masks. They are the masks used to portray feminine heroines, with different names depending of the supposed age of the character. With their pale face, high eyebrows and mysterious expression, they fascinate ink lovers. Sometimes called Nou-men, they express few emotion. Some of them are smiling though. The Ko-omote masks are the most popular Onna, for their pure look. Male masks are called Otoko and Elders (old wise men), Jô.

The most famous mask of Noh Theater is indeed the Hannya, a popular Japanese tattoo design. Here by master Shige.
The most famous mask of Noh Theater is indeed the Hannya, a popular Japanese tattoo design. Here by master Shige.
Another well-known Noh mask is this white feminine face, called Ko-omote. Here by Kamil Czapiga.
Another well-known Noh mask is this white feminine face, called Ko-omote. Here by Kamil Czapiga.
Japanese folklore has also humorous characters. Here, hand tattoos of Hyottoko and Okame. They are not Noh characters but famous dance and Japanese culture masks. By Cacau Horihana.
Japanese folklore has also humorous characters. Here, hand tattoos of Hyottoko and Okame. They are not Noh characters but famous dance and Japanese culture masks. By Cacau Horihana.
Nice piece by Costis.
Nice piece by Costis.

Recent from Tattoo Ideas

Love the work of Gakkin...
Love the work of Gakkin...
Cool piece by Horiei Shinshu.
Cool piece by Horiei Shinshu.
This sleeve, also by Horiei Shinshu, includes several Japanese mask tattoos.
This sleeve, also by Horiei Shinshu, includes several Japanese mask tattoos.
Kitsune and Tengu masks by Horitada.
Kitsune and Tengu masks by Horitada.
Hyottoko by Cacau, Okame by Caio Pineiro.
Hyottoko by Cacau, Okame by Caio Pineiro.
Ko-omote by Jussi Kokkarinen.
Ko-omote by Jussi Kokkarinen.
And this one by Kat von D.
And this one by Kat von D.
Hannya and Hanakobu-Akujô masks by Kenji Shigehara.
Hannya and Hanakobu-Akujô masks by Kenji Shigehara.
Work in progress for a gorgeous realistic mask by Mirek Vel Stotker.
Work in progress for a gorgeous realistic mask by Mirek Vel Stotker.
Badass Hannya chestpiece by Rinat Mingazdinov.
Badass Hannya chestpiece by Rinat Mingazdinov.
By Scotty Kelly.
By Scotty Kelly.
Tengu and Hannhya masks sleeve by Sergey Buslay.
Tengu and Hannhya masks sleeve by Sergey Buslay.
Noumen mask by Shingken.
Noumen mask by Shingken.
Great sleeve by Shoko Sonoda.
Great sleeve by Shoko Sonoda.
By Toy.
By Toy.

jentheripper

@JenTheRipper

Writer for art related medias. Fell in love with tattoo while researching for another passion, crime history. Travelling, admiring, sharing.

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