Koi fish are one of the most majestic creatures on earth, with their beautiful spectrum of colours and floaty shape, they make for some of the most eye-catching sleeve tattoos.
The most common tattoo styles for koi fish are polar opposites in design. There’s the traditional Japanese design with bold lines, shapes and block colors, and then there’s the dream-like tattoo where the Koi fish look like they are in motion with their iconic frill-like large tails floating softly behind. Koi fish tattoos can look strong and they can also look delicate, making them a very versatile and popular tattoo.
Men’s Koi fish sleeve tattoos look great because the length of the arm provides a nice long canvas to show off the colours and detail of the koi fish. It also gives the sleeve tattoo room for a nice flow to easily integrate any other significant elements that you may want to have included in your tattoo. Because these creatures come in many different shapes and sizes, a koi fish half sleeve forearm tattoo also looks amazing if you didn’t want to commit to a full sleeve tattoo.
Why are Koi Fish Sleeve Tattoos so Popular?
Koi fish have always been symbolic in Japanese culture and this symbolism is increasingly resonating across the rest of the world, evident in the rise in popularity of the Koi fish sleeve tattoo.
The legendary koi fish are revered in Japan. They are said to bring about fortune, prosperity and luck but it’s actually the legend behind them that is so significant and powerful…
The Koi fish became a symbol for good luck because of their courage, strength and perseverance. As far as Japanese legend goes, the koi fish that were able to climb the waterfall on the Yellow River at ‘Dragon Gate’ would be transformed and elevated into an immortal dragon.
Koi fish are further considered strong and brave on Japanese culture because unlike other fish, they are known for swimming upstream, against the currents, regardless of the conditions. This tough journey makes them easy to catch as they are slower. Like a Samurai, they will courageously continue their mission with laser-like focus and if they get caught, they will bravely face their destiny. Some believe that these magical fish can even swim up waterfalls, which symbolises their unwavering strength and power over body and mind.
As you may have guessed, the meaning in these fables are transferrable to our lives and this is what makes the koi fish sleeve tattoo so special. It represents and reminds us of all the things we aspire to have; strength, courage and perseverance to reach our goals and dreams. The Koi fish represent advancement, not only materially, but also spiritually- which is sometimes considered harder.
Koi Fish Sleeve Tattoo Placement and Color
It’s important to note that the Japanese believe a Koi fish swimming downstream is bad luck and represents swimming away from a challenge or life. The Japanese will always recommend facing your koi fish tattoo upwards for good luck.
Koi fish swimming in a circle is a popular tattoo. The yin-yang symbol is said to be two koi fish swimming around each other, a male and a female, with an eye on each other, balancing each other’s chi for perfect harmony.
Koi fish come in a huge range of colors and each represents certain traits or people, which can be integrated into a sleeve tattoo to add further meaning. In general;
- Red: Power and bravery
- Red/Orange: Represents a maternal figure
- Pink: Represents a daughter
- Black: Represents fatherhood, strength against severe adversity and creating your own destiny. Symbolises a rebirth.
- Blue: Symbolises peace, calmness and tranquillity and also masculinity and fertility
- Gold: represented fortune and wealth
- White: represents a son or prosperity in your career
Koi fish sleeve tattoos allow you to create unique designs with colors that hold significant meaning for you. Below is a collection of the best men’s koi fish sleeve tattoos wev’e come across, have a look to see what they symbolise and maybe you’ll find inspiration and ideas for your own koi fish sleeve tattoo.