I wouldnt say mainstream but most ppl think they "look" the best, there other cultures that have nice designs to them, but most think of jap tattoos first. They dont really care for the histoy behind them and what they actually can stand for. ex. those koi fish that everyone seems to have n prob dont know its gang related
how is the koi tattoo specifically gang related? It base on an ancient legend of a brave koi that swim upstream against the current and is reward for his bravery and dedication by turning into a dragon aka a legend as oppose to a mortal being that is a koi.
Unless you are talking about japanese tattoo, irezumi in general than yes because historically they were wore by yakuza gangster. Although in the very beginning it was the firemen that had them. But i don't think thats what you meant.
I have to disagree, japanese tattoo are very mainstream right now. It has influence in fashion, pop culture etc. And your right many people get them because they look badass. But that is the reason alot of people get tattoos not just for japanese tattoo.
The advantage to that is you can really tell (well at least for someone that have study abit on tattoo) who got it because its the trend and who got it because either they truly appreciate the art. Case in point, the popular koi tattoo you are refering too. Vast majority of ppl with koi tattoos got it off of a flash or maybe from an artist that does not specialize in japanese tattoo. Result is a very western looking fish, often resembling a giant red penis. A properly done koi tattoo on the other hand can be a truly unique work of art that can withstand the test of time.
Not hating on people with penis kois, what matter the most is that the wearer enjoys it. I have a dragon tattoo that anybody with knowledge in tattoo can tell that is done by a artist that does not specialize in japanese tattoo. It was my first tattoo and I didn't put enought research into it. It was well done but once i gain more knowledge on tattoos it irritated me that its not perfect. But to be honest it really suit me and it is still my favorite tattoo to this date. I'm a banana, yellow on the outside white inside. Dragon tattoos in chinese society are typically wore by gangsters, i know that before I got it and I didn't get it because i'm one or I want to show off. Sometimes tattoo can develop meaning as you get on with life. My dragon did exactly that and I'm thankful that while I didn't do my hmwrk on japanese tattoos I did choose a good artist and the tattoo was very well done. I do plan to eventually do a traditional japanese koi leg sleeve when i get to that certain stage of life, this time from someone that specialize in it.