Do Japanese Tattoos Fade?

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Every tattoo fades over time, regardless of the subject matter, the artists, how the tattoo is applied, or what style the tattoo is. However, with that being said, some tattoo styles and applications methods are known for lasting much longer than others without much fading at all. One such style is Japanese tattoos. Do Japanese tattoos fade, or do they last as long as legend says that they do?

Japanese tattoos do fade over time, but they fade significantly slower and much less than other tattoo styles. Traditional Tabori tattoos are said to last for a lifetime and retain their vibrancy. Japanese-style tattoos last well, as they are bold and must be well applied by an experienced artist. 

Tattoos are forever, but tattoo clarity and boldness are not. The unfortunate reality is that every tattoo will become faded over time, but it is said that Japanese tattoos last much longer than most. Let’s explore this claim and find out how long Japanese tattoos really last. 

Do Japanese-Style Tattoos Fade?

If you are considering getting a Japanese-style tattoo, there may be some characteristics of these tattoos that may be concerning to you. These tattoos are typically very difficult to apply, and they are usually full of color, and tattoos like this are notorious for fading quickly. Is this the case with Japanese-style tattoos?

The truth is that only very experienced tattoo artists will apply a Japanese-style tattoo. This style is so full of subtle rules and details that no artist who is unfamiliar with the style will attempt to apply this type of tattoo. 

This is the first good sign, as an experienced tattoo artist knows how to sink ink well and make a long-lasting tattoo. 

The other aspect of these tattoos is that they must be applied heavily; they are usually very large, they are typically very bold with very saturated blacks and colors, and every mark in the tattoo is deep and intentional. 

This means that the way these tattoos are applied makes them some of the longest-lasting tattoos of all. Japanese-style tattoos are among the longest-lasting, least quick to fade tattoos because they have to be applied well. 

If you want to get a Japanese-style tattoo, you can rest assured that if you go to the right artist, the tattoo will last for many years before it begins to fade significantly. 

Do Traditional Japanese Tattoos Fade?

Another aspect of Japanese tattoos is traditional Tabori tattoos. These tattoos are not only in the style of Japanese tattoos but they are applied using traditional methods. 

Tabori tattoos are applied by hand using specialized equipment and are only applied by incredibly skilled master tattoo artists who are specially trained in this art form. 

This type of Japanese tattoo is incredibly long-lasting because of the way Tabori tattoos are applied. The ink is applied more deeply and over a broader range with each needle insertion. 

These tattoos are also applied in a way that is less traumatic to the skin, which helps the ink last longer and reduces scabbing, which also increases the lifespan of the tattoo. 

Tabori tattoos are famous for lasting a lifetime without fading significantly and are well-known for being very well-applied. If you want a Japanese tattoo that lasts longer than any other style, then getting a traditional Tabori tattoo is the way to go. 

Unfortunately, Tabori tattoo artists are not easy to find, and most of them reside and work in Japan. There are a few artists who made the pilgrimage to Japan to learn Tabori from Japanese masters and then returned back to their own country with their practiced skills. 

This means that finding someone to apply a Tabori tattoo without traveling to Japan is difficult, but if you do manage it, your Tabori tattoo will last far longer than any other tattoo. 

How Long Do These Tattoo Styles Last?

The truth is that all forms of Japanese tattoos last longer than other styles. Modern tattoo styles such as New School, Illustrative, and pieces such as delicate portraits do not last as long as bold, intense, well-applied Japanese tattoos. 

Modern iterations of Japanese-style tattoos still require tattooing that follows old techniques and methods that produce very long-lasting pieces that do not fade quickly at all. These tattoos will last for the rest of your life, but they will begin to show signs of fading after a few years. 

Tabori tattoos, however, are known to last a lifetime and retain their vibrancy. This longevity is due to the way these tattoos are applied, how gentle they are on the skin, and how deep the ink is sunk into the skin. 

These traditional Japanese tattoos will last for many, many years without losing any intensity if they have been applied well. These tattoos are among the longest lasting of any tattoos from any style. 

Why Do Japanese Tattoos Last Longer Than Other Styles? 

The reason why Japanese-style and Tabori tattoos last so long is how they are applied, the techniques involved in the application of the tattoo, and often due to the subject matter of the tattoo. 

These tattoos are bold and vibrant with thick lines and heavy shading. Any color used in these tattoos is heavily saturated and sunk deep into the skin. Other styles of tattoo use very thin linework and light color shades, but Japanese tattoos are made to last a lifetime. 

These tattoos are also typically quite large. Large areas of skin saturated with tattoo ink will hold up better and longer than very fine, thin lines on small tattoos. Large Japanese tattoos last for so long because even if they do begin to fade, the tattoo is so large and bold that it remains clearly defined. 

If you are looking for a tattoo that will last far longer than other styles, a Japanese-style tattoo applied by an experienced tattooer is a great option. The best option is a Tabori tattoo if you can find an artist, as these tattoos last years before even slightly fading. 


Japanese tattoos are among the longest-lasting tattoos of any style. The bold colors, dense line work, and deep tattooing style of these pieces mean that they last longer than almost any other style. Traditional Tabori tattoos last even longer still due to the way they are applied. 

The truth is that every tattoo will eventually fade to some degree as the ink is broken up by UV light and carried away by your body’s immune system, but Japanese tattoos take far longer to begin to fade due to the skill required to apply them, the subject of these tattoos, and the deep application of ink. 

Some of my favorite designs, tattoo books, and aftercare products, selected for you

working on tattoo at my studio
Working at the studio on one of my projects

Thank you for reading my article, I hope that you have found it helpful. If you would have trouble finding ideas for your tattoo, wonder what is meaning of design that you have found or what to buy for aftercare, to make sure that your tattoo will be healing quickly and easily, here are some of my favorite products in one place, hope that this will also help.

Design and tattoo ideas

For some ideas you can have a look at those 3 books with hundreds of designs that I use with my clients, they are available on Amazon for Kindle or in classic, paper version (links below):

Tattoo meaning

If you would like to read more about the meaning of different tattoo styles and designs before you will decide what you would like to have, I can recommend a book that was really useful for me when I was starting my tattoo adventure – it’s “Conscious Ink: The Hidden Meaning of Tattoos” by Lisa Barretta (through the link you can find it on Amazon for around $10).

Tattoo aftercare

The skin at the tattoo site often dries out. To prevent it and speed up healing for my clients, I usually recommend one of those tattoo aftercare balms (you can find them on Amazon):


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