You know something has become a cultural phenomenon when it gets its own slang!

As you probably know, tattooing has a…complicated relationship with mainstream society in Japan. But, much like the rest of the world, people are starting to realize that it’s actually a fairly normal artform and having tattoos doesn’t automatically make you a serial puppy stealer or something weird. So, while the “tattoos equal gangsters” mentality is still pervasive, there are also plenty of non-gangster types going under the needle, including an ever-growing number of otaku who bear images of their favorite anime and manga characters.

Of course, where there are otaku, there is also Internet slang, which means tattoos featuring these characters have earned themselves a special name: “Otattoo,” which is short for “otaku tattoo.” You have to admit, it’s actually kind of catchy — though it does also sound a little bit like someone just added an honorific “o-” to the beginning of the word “tattoo. Though we suppose “honorable tattoo” wouldn’t the weirdest translation we’ve seen from the anime world…

As Yokohama tattoo artist Aki-Bonten told Nikkan Spa, a daily Japanese magazine, the number of “otaku tattoos” has been booming recently. The artist explained that in 2010, he did a back piece of Fate from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, and the customer ended up posting photos of it on the popular message board 2Channel. Aki-Bonten explains that while the tattoo was called an “ita-tattoo” (literally “painful tattoo” but closer to “cringe-worthy tattoo”) at the time, it’s now seen as an “otattoo.”

▼ Here are two pieces by Aki-Bonten — he clearly knows what he’s doing!

And as that name suggests a general acceptance of “nerdy” tattoos, it also comes with many more requests for similar work. The artist also mentioned that “otattoo” are popular outside Japan as well, which we think everyone already knew. You do you, geeky people!

▼ And one more by the Yokohama tattoo artist.

Of course, Aki-Bonten isn’t the only one in Japan producing otattoo’s for the country’s geeks. Check out a few more nerdy-and-wonderful tattoos below!

▼ Here’s one particularly striking tattoo featuring Cardcaptor Sakura.

▼ And here’s a design that should please fans of Slam Dunk!

▼ Even if you don’t like mechs or tattoos, you have to admit this is gorgeous work!


▼ Who doesn’t love anime girls and nipples?

Now, you’re probably planning your own tattoos — if so, you may be glad to know that some onsen are growing more accepting of foreigners with tattoos. And if you need some inspiration, we can help you with that too!

Source: Diable Art, Hachima Kiko, Nikkan Spa
Featured image: Twitter/k1227_k