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Biography | John5 credits | John in TWO | John5 Tattoos

John5's Tattoos

Both of John's arms and shoulders are fully sleeved, or covered, in tattoos and he has his name, written in Kanji, centred on his chest.
On the first photo, taken in 1998 during MM's glam-rock era, you can see the name tat is below colourful chest tattoos that almost meet in the middle.

Most of the tattoos are very Japanese looking in style, very oriental-flower-power. This classical Japanese look is quite a contrast to Manson's tattoos.

John5's chest tattoos
John's Japanese tattoos are in a style called Horimono. In this style, a gaku, or 'frame', of waves, water or wind, swirls around the central tattoos, and gives the horimono its 'suit' appearance.

John had his first tattoo by the age of 17. And - because he said so himself - I did used to have here that it's the cartoon character version of a Tasmanian Devil on his upper right arm. But, in February 2005, he said his first one was 'the little guy with the guitar on my left arm', so now I'm confused.

On the next photo, also from the Mechanical Animals era, the Tasmanian Devil character shows clearly on his upper right arm. I wonder why the parts above it were never inked in?

John5's arm tattoos

In a 1995 picture of John hosted on his own website, you can see the Tasmanian Devil and a tattoo of roses on his right arm. The beginnings of the Japanese-style body art can be seen on his left arm and shoulder and at his right wrist too.
John5 tattoos

Here's a closer photo of some of the artwork on his right arm and shoulder, from 1998-99.

I'm needing a left shoulder shot now to balance things out.

John5 tattoos

And here's one I was sent that seems to be a quite recent photo. The vest top is in the way a bit but it's enough to give you an idea of his left side tattoos.

The large fish, covering his upper chest area and shoulders, are koi (carp). In Japanese culture, koi represent strength, endurance and perseverance. Their whiskers denote wisdom. Twin carp are called hutatsugoi. There's a third one on his right arm too.

Here's a reasonable view of his left forearm tattoo work. The photo is from 2002 or 2003.

John5 tattoos

A closeup of his left upper-arm tattoos:

John5 tattoos

Below, another overview photo of the tattoos on both of John's forearms. This is part of a Journal post picture, from 16 September 2002.

John5 tattoos

The two photos below show his right arm's inner arm and outer forearm tattoos.

John5 inner right arm tattoos
John5's right arm tattoos
Is the square with the face a kite? A kabuki mask? In the pic on the right, you can see his early tattoo of two red roses growing through or joined by a plectrum. The yellow circle over his bicep is a fish's eye.

What are the flowers above the roses? Peonies or cherry blossom?
John5 tattoo of red demon

There's a red demon face to the left of the roses - what little symbolic role does he play?

It would be nice to know but, at the same time, we can always just admire them for themselves.

John5's left arm tattoos
'I love tattoo's and I love the classical Japanese art. Yakuza (Japanese Mafia) they also use that style...and I love the meanings behind them too.' -- John5

The name yakuza is associated with the Japanese card game of Oicho-Kabu. The game is like Black Jack except that, in Oicho-Kabu, you want to score 19, not 21. In Japanese regional dialect, the word Ya means 8, Ku means 9, and Za means 3. So when you add them up, you get 20, which is worthless in Oicho-Kabu. The yakuza, therefore, are considered 'worthless' by society and to be outsiders.

In Japan, having any tattoos is still apparantly frowned upon. But John lives in Los Angeles, USA, so he's okay.

Sunset Strip Tattoos in Hollywood created most of John's tattoos.