As old as the hills, unlike anything else, Japanese culture has left its mark on many aspects of modern fashion. Biker jewelry is no exception. The symbols and images bestowed on us by the Land of the Rising Sun delight with their graceful lines, unique appearance, and depth of meaning. We couldn't help but include some of the prominent symbols in our collections. In this post, we are going to talk about Japanese motifs in Bikerringshop jewelry.
The Themes of Nature
Japanese culture has always admired nature and its majestic creations. Sakura, lotus, bamboo, Mount Fuji, these and many other motifs are pervasive throughout jewelry made in the Land of the Rising Sun. One of the most beautiful symbols - both visually and semantically - is the koi carps. As a matter of fact, Koi is translated from Japanese means carp.
But not only carp, koi also means love; more specifically, love for a partner. A couple of carps is a symbol of family, strong bond, happiness, as well as warm feelings between a man and a woman. A piece of jewelry depicting two koi carps caught in a dance is the ultimate gift for special occasions that celebrate your relationships such as an engagement, wedding, and anniversary.
At the same time, the vibrant river fish itself is a symbol of men and masculinity. When a boy is born in a Japanese family, his parents hang flags featuring carp images over the house. Today, however, this symbol became equally popular among both men and women. For the latter, it proposes the meaning of a loving mother and faithful wife.
In nature, carps have to move against the stream in search of food and for procreation. Most often, jewelry depicts the colorful fish in its natural element, i.e. struggling with the current. In the symbolic sense, it denotes the strength to go against fate and the course of life, as well as the will to overcome obstacles that come one’s way. Ultimately, koi carps become a symbol of victory over circumstances, a triumph of courage. According to one of the legends, those carps who can reach Dragon Gates swimming up the yellow river will be rewarded by transformation into a dragon. This legend can be interpreted in this way - fight to achieve your goal and you will get your meed.
Koi carp jewelry is a great match for independent individuals. Those who rebel against things that don’t sit well with them and those who are indifferent to what other people think can greatly benefit from this uniquely beautiful and powerful symbol. A carp that overcomes a stormy stream is the personification of fortitude.
This predator is not originally found on Japanese archipelago. Because of isolation, Japanese people didn’t have a chance to see live tigers. All they got was images from Chinese books and scrolls as well skins brought by merchants. Nevertheless, Japanese artists gravitated to this magnificent animal and its images became indispensable for Japanese culture. Because they couldn't draw from life, they let their imagination run wild. Their tigers turned out to be fancier and more eccentric than those drawn by Chinese painters.
Symbolically, tigers mean courage and are an attribute of hero warriors. A tiger personifies superhuman powers and is a messenger of the forest gods. Only deities, immortals, or slayers of evil spirits can ride it. Luckily, you don’t need to possess superhuman powers to rock tiger jewelry. Just make sure you and your symbol are on the same wavelength. In other words, a tiger will favor a bold, purposeful, and self-asserted man.
In general, the specific meaning attributed to a huge striped cat depends on how it is depicted. You can often see images of a tiger fighting a dragon. Their fight symbolizes the duality of existence where the dragon correlates with the masculine principle "yang", and the tiger - with the feminine principle "yin". In general, these symbols are multifaceted, i.e. they can represent one of these pairs:
- good and evil;
- heaven and earth;
- woman and man;
- death and life;
- white and black, etc.
The struggle of opposites does not bring victory to either the dragon or tiger. The legends say that this fight ends with friendship and harmony.
While tiger stands for toughness, aggressiveness, strength, and steadfastness, the dragon represents gentleness, compassion, happiness, and well-being. The Japanese dragon is people’s companion and if it is treated with respect it may show its gratitude by bestowing one with treasures.
The Japanese dragon had the ability to transform into any creature, and it used this gift to come to the world of mortals. Despite the fact that dragons are depicted in a positive way, there were a few villains among them. One of those evil creatures bringing chaos and devastation was Yamata no Orochi. It had eight heads and eight tails.
By the way, here's how you can tell Japanese dragon jewelry from its Chinese counterpart. The dragons of the Celestial Empire featured 5 claws while the Japanese had only three. Plus, Japanese dragons could grow multiple heads but Chinese dragons had only one.
As we already mentioned, dragons are reborn koi carps that have achieved their cherished goal. It won’t come as a surprise that Japanese culture often depicts these animals together. A carp signifies a person moving toward his goal while a dragon is a person who has attained it. Also, Japanese culture talks about Makatsuge, a half-fish half-dragon creature. Its meaning is an aspiration to become a better person as well as courage and resilience. Jewelry with this symbol is a good choice for a man as it also represents male sexual energy.
Japanese mythology is multifaceted and complex. It is comprised of a variety of gods, demons, and mythical creatures, and each possesses a unique meaning. The beauty of Japanese mythology is that you can find a patron to match your own personality or rely on its support to become the person you’ve always wanted to be.
Fujin is one of the oldest Shinto gods. He appears as a red-headed giant with black skin, dressed in leopard fur, and with a huge bag on his shoulders. He was once an evil demon but he lost a battle to Buddha and the god entrusted him with new duties. Fujin took part in the creation of the world. By releasing the wind from his bag, he cleared the sky of morning fog and filled the Gate between heaven and earth with sunlight.
Fujin jewelry is a great choice for people who managed to overcome the bad in themselves. It will remind you of noble aspirations and that it is never too late to get on the right path. Also, this symbol is ideal for those who love the wisdom of nature and finds beauty even in the most destructive of its phenomena.
Another amazing mythological creature that came from Japan is Komainu. Someone sees feline features in these monsters. Others will see a resemblance to dogs. In fact, Komainu are lions. Big cats do not live in Japan and until the 20th century, regular people simply did not know what they looked like. Therefore, they endowed lions with fantastic features that had little in common with the inhabitants of the savannah.
Their talents are also different from real lions. They are not aggressive towards people and are willing to protect them from evil forces. Originally, a pair of Komainu lions was set at the entrance to Shinto shrines to stop evil from getting in. Later, their powers were expanded and they were able to become a patron of people. Typically, Komainu are portrayed in pairs, one of the lions has an open mouth (as if speaking Ah), and the other keeps its mouth shut (making the Un sound). It is generally accepted that these Komainus are a boy and a girl. Perhaps, they are one of the many representations of the Yin and Yang concept. Be that as it may, Komainu with an open mouth, a male symbol, will become a faithful companion for men, and his other half, a female with a closed mouth, will patronize women.
Just as good is unthinkable without bad, Japanese deities could not do without their opposites - demons. Some of the most common demons in The Land of the Rising Sun are Oni, huge evil humanoids with large fangs and horns. Sometimes they have three eyes but the thing they all have in common is their unusual complexion. Most often their skin is blue, green, red, or black.
Oni demons are hard workers and known for great strength. They carry an iron club strewn with thorns. The demons are very smart and cunning. Japanese legends say that these horned creatures can transform into humans. In a similar way, people can turn into Oni. Such misfortune can happen to those who cannot deal with their anger. For some reason, it is believed that it is women who are at risk of becoming Oni. There is a legend about a very envious woman who turned into a female Oni, Hannya, because she couldn’t control her emotions. Other legends tell about heroes who summon Oni and become one of them for good. Sometimes, although not often, these demons can be kind to people and even protect them.
A well-known Japanese tradition suggests that Japanese men wear Oni masks at various festivals. Playing the role of demons, they allow the crowd to banish them to hell. That being said, these masks went beyond the festive attribute. Depicted in tattoos or jewelry, they urge their wearer to avoid bad deeds and not to succumb to temptations. If their owner is a good person, Oni mask jewelry is able to become a powerful amulet.
Speaking of Japanese culture, we simply cannot ignore the martial arts and those who have reached mind-boggling heights in mastering them. In the next segment dedicated to Japanese jewelry, we are going to talk about samurai symbolism.
Initially, these warriors were devoted servants of aristocratic families. At the same time, the samurai image is an important part of Zen Buddhism. In its teaching, the life path of a warrior personifies the process of gradual cognition of life and death as well as the readiness to pay for his mistakes. Therefore, samurai jewelry is the personification of dedication, loyalty to tradition, the willingness to give one’s life for ideals, as well as the desire to choose the right path.
Along with samurai serving the well-to-do, there were large warrior clans independent in both politics and military service. Hence the next meaning of the samurai symbol – freedom, independence, and decision-making off one’s own bat.
The samurai were exclusively men of honor and truly great warriors. By choosing samurai jewelry, you pay tribute to the Japanese ‘knights’ and their moral principles. It will also help you express the willingness to follow in their footsteps.
The peculiarity of Japanese warriors is that they were extremely strong in spirit and body. However, their main advantage in battle was not the skillful use of weapons but courage, ingenuity, and the ability to make decisions quickly. Hence one more commendable meaning inherent in this symbol - physical perfection, indestructible will, courage, and resilience.
Samurai are unimaginable without their weapon, especially the katana. A man wearing katana jewelry is primarily a fighter for his cause. His friends are those who help him on his mission. His wife is a selfless supporter. A man who wears such a piece of jewelry finds a great goal and people who are able to understand it and assist in attaining it.
However, if you are alone and have no purpose, the Katana symbol is capable of destroying everything around you. This symbol may suppress you and take you to the rock bottom of life. Therefore, before putting this symbol on your body, you should ask yourself what your goal is and if you are ready to become a true warrior.
Good Luck Symbolism
The best-known good luck symbol coming from the shores of Japanese islands is Maneki-neko, otherwise known as Beckoning cat or Calling cat. There are several versions about the origin of the talisman that is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity. The most popular legend says that a cat saved a daimyo from a lightning strike by luring him to an old dilapidated Gotokuji temple. In gratitude for his salvation, the feudal donated money to restore the temple. Since then, the cat with a raised paw has been being venerated among believers.
Maneki-neko is often depicted with an old gold coin in its paw. The coin refers to a different story. According to it, the virtuous cat stole a coin from his rich owner and brought it to a sick poor man who used to treat him with fish. No matter which story you prefer, Maneki-neko jewelry is a powerful talisman for those seeking support from the highest powers. However, you should remember that the beckoning cat helps only good people.