Close this search box.
5/5 - (3 votes)

All you may know about Japanese Snake Tattoo on this guide!

As you may know, Japanese tattoos are one of the most influential and important tattoo styles in the world.

And, inside the Japanese tattoo style, we can say snake tattoos are another important point.

Because of this, we prepared this guide for you, and we want to tell you more about:

Let’s go!

hebi tattoo arm sleeve black and gray vincent penning

Black and Grey Japanese Snake Tattoo

Yes, usually Irezumi or Japanese tattoos tend to be colorful, but, this time, we want to show you a black and gray example.

As you can see, the design is very traditional for a complete arm sleeve, with a big snake and some flowers. The only difference is black and gray, and it is fantastic.

This tattoo is done by Vincent Penning, a wonderful tattoo artist focused in Japanese style, working at Dragon Tattoo, in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.


Some context about Japanese Snake Tattoo

Well, first of all, the Japanese name for the snake is Hebi so, in this guide, you may see Hebi tattoo like a thousand times.

For Japanese people (and in almost all Asia), snakes are a positive thing.

Yes, we know in the Western countries snakes were the bad guys in the film (if you remember the snake, apple and Science Tree in The Bible), but it is not the same in Japan.

In Japan snakes are sacred for some people and, in general, they project a positive feeling.

In part, this is because Japanese snakes have no poison and they hunt rats.

And now, something about Snake meaning in Japanese Tattoo

Here are some cultural links between America, Europe and Asia.

The main meaning for a Hebi Tattoo in Japan are:

This is because, as you may know, snakes can change their skin to grow up, and this has a huge meaning.

Yes, in Europe or America this is not the main meaning for a snake, but it is for some reptiles and, in the background, for snakes too.

So, if you want a tattoo to symbolize to pass through complicated stuff, to rebirth and grow up, maybe a Hebi Tattoo is the one for you.

japanese snake tattoo arm sleeve leo lauro

Traditional Hebi Tattoo Arm Sleeve

We can say this is a perfect example of a traditional Japanese snake tattoo.

You know, a complete arm sleeve, with a lot of black ink, some red, orange and green, a giant snake with flowers and leaves.

That can be the resumen for this kind of tattoos, and it is just espectacular, isn’t it?

The tattoo is done by Leo Lauro, owner of One Bullet Tattoo Studio in Gran Canaria, Spain, and we do love it!

Hebi Tattoo and the Japanese Zodiac

Just a brief introduction about this.

Snake (Hebi) is a sign in the Japanese Zodiac, as well as in the Chinese one.

As you know, in the Japanese and Chinese Zodiac the different signs are organized by years (in Japan it starts on January 1st, but in China it depends on the moon calendar).

Well, for Japanese Zodiac, people born in Hebi year has some nice attributes:

And, like everything in Asia, it has a darkside too, because Hebi people tend to be very personal in the bad way, you know.


Japanese Hebi Tattoo Without Color

We want to show you this example so you can see that an Hebi tattoo without color, just in black ink, can be fantastic too!

Yes, maybe it is not 100% traditional but the final result is just awesome.

Moreover, the finish of the tattoo is really clean and perfect.

This tattoo is done by Lee, from Black Fox Tattoos, in Liverpool, in the UK, of course.

Hebi Tattoo meaning by colors

But, moreover, snakes can have different colors in Hebi Tattoo and, depending on this color, it changes the meaning.

We want to introduce you the main 7 colors:

Black Snake Tattoo

The first one is the black Hebi tattoo, known as Kuro in Japanese.

As you may imagine, black color in Japan means wisdom and dignity and, moreover, in Karate the black belt is for masters.

And, because of this, a black Hebi tattoo meaning is about wisdom, dignity, formality and purity.

black and red snake tattoo japanese ghis melou

Black (and red) Snake Tattoo

Yes, this is a big one, isn’t it?

This amazing Japanese Style Snake Tattoo is done in a very traditional way by our beloved Ghis Melou.

As you can see, the color palette is 100% Japanese style, very complex design and a complete arm sleeve.

Ghis Melou is a wonderful tattoo artist very focused on Japanese Style and owner of Half Wolf Tattoo, in Montpellier, France.

Red Hebi Tattoo

Red, Aka in Japanese, is about vitality, strength and passion too, as in the Western countries, because red is always related to blood.

Just a fun fact, Samurais (you know, the elite warriors in Japan centuries ago) liked to wear red.

Like the second meaning, red in Japan is for protection against evil.


Red Hebi Tattoo

And now you can see a smaller tattoo about an Hebi concept, this time in black and red.

This kind of tattoo designs is maybe the more traditional one, with some flowers and another elements to fill completely with ink the spot.

This fantastic job is from Ryuichiro, an amazing tattoo artist working Tokyo, Japan, focused in the very traditional Japanese tattoo, we do love him!

Blue Snake Tattoo

Blue or Indigo in Japan is Ao, and is a color for protection.

There is a lot of literature there because Indigo in Japan was extracted from a plant, and this plant was antibacterial, so it was applied to wounds.

blue japanese snake tattoo davide esposito

Blue Japanese Snake Tattoo

What do you think about this blue Hebi tattoo?

Yes, maybe it is a half way between Japanese and American Traditional styles but, you know, sometimes the line is so close one to another.

This tattoo is done by Davide Esposito, an amazing tattoo artist working at Mas Tinta Studio, in San Martino della Battaglia, near Verona, in Italy.

White Snake Tattoo

White in Japanese is Shiro, and, one more time, is about purity (like black one, but more in a mystical or religious way).

In fact, white snakes in Japan are the sacred ones, connecting directly from earth to the divinity.


White Japanese Snake Tattoo

First of all, we do not know the artist for this tattoo, but we want to show it to you because this is the most difficult one to search.

You know, white tattoos are not the most popular ones, because white ink is used usually for not fading other colors, but this is what we have!

Yellow Hebi Tattoo

Ki, yellow in Japanese is about longevity and courage.

Back in the Mid Age, it was a symbol of loyalty to the royal family.

This is not the same as in Europe or America, you know, here yellow is more about wealth and money, because the gold.


Yellow and black Japanese Snake Tattoo

Well, now it is time for a half yellow and black Hebi tattoo like this one.

As you can see, it is a full arm sleeve with a lot of colors and, if it is not 100% traditional, we think the mix is fantastic, isn’t it?

This tattoo is done by Cam Kelley, working at Heritage Tattoo LV, in Las Vegas, in Nevada.

Green Snake Tattoo

Green (Midori) in Japan is for the spring and the new beginning for plants and forest.

And, moreover, it is about energy, vitality and, of course, youth!

So, if you are a vital person, maybe a Green Hebi Tattoo is for you.

green snake flash tattoo jeremiah n hoeft

Green Snake Flash Tattoo

Yes, this time the example for a green snake tattoo is a flash one, so the design is simpler than the others, as you can see.

We do like the perspective of the snake in the tattoo and the color palette, with the waves detail, all perfectly done.

This tattoo is done by Jeremiah N Hoeft, working at The Three Point Tattoo Shop, in Vancouver, Canada.

Purple Hebi Tattoo

Another link between cultures: Purple, Murasaki in Japanese, was the color for kings, queens, emperors and all the high class.

This was because purple inks were really expensive all over the world.

So, a purple snake tattoo is something like the royal one.


Purple (and blue) Snake Tattoo

As you can see, this is an example of a purple (and blue belly) Japanese snake tattoo, this time, with some peonies in the composition.

We do love the color palette, mixing two different blue colors, the purple for the snake’s skin and, moveover, the leaves in grey.

This nice job is done by Chris Parker, owner of True Craft Tattoo House, in Sacramento.

We do hope you have enjoyed this guide about Japanese Snake Tattoos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ink Happened