Enso Tattoo: From Japanese Philosophy To Tattooing

Do not let the headline confuse you. Even if you do not know much about Zen philosophy, I am sure you have seen it in the form of tattoos somewhere on somebody. There are numerous tattoo designs inspired by it. The Enso tattoo is one of the toppers.

The Enso is a Buddhist or Zen symbol carrying many meanings. People believing in this philosophy are familiar with it. But people from other religions or beliefs may not have much idea but still be interested in it as a tattoo design. If you are one of them, here it goes.

It usually represents enlightenment, power, grace, the void, strength, the universe, etc. From a broader outlook, it indicates life too. You will also see it illustrating the Japanese aesthetic.

Scroll down to learn more about the Enso tattoo, its meanings, and its types.

Enso Tattoo

What Is The Enso Tattoo?

What Is The Enso Tattoo - Tattoo Strategies

The Enso Tattoo resembles a circle tattoo drawn with paintbrushes. Most people have it incomplete with an open gap, whereas some may prefer it completely closed.

Artists use the same devices needed for conventional Japanese calligraphy to draw the Enso, which includes a paintbrush to put the tattoo ink on a Japanese paper called washi.

When the Enso is open, it gives you the freedom to make more movements, leaving space for perfection. People practicing Zen often hold on to the concept of wabi-sabi (the beauty in imperfection). In that case, when you want it closed, it will signify the beauty in keeping things as they are.

The appearance of the Enso should be as though an artist used a brush to paint it. That is what precisely distinguishes the painting from the tattoo.

You should know that painters create the Enso with a single brush stroke in a fast motion. Since you cannot change it after drawing, meaning no two Enso circles will ever be the same. That again brings back the wabi-sabi idea.

What Does The Enso Tattoo Mean And Symbolize?

What Does The Enso Tattoo Mean And Symbolize - Tattoo Strategies

The word Enso refers to a circle in Japan. It is integrally involved in both Japanese calligraphy art and Zen practices.

When you have the Enso as a tattoo, it will represent grace, might, power, infinity, the universe, and many other things. Moreover, the Japanese use it to portray their traditional aesthetic. They often recognize the drawing or tattoo as a form of minimalist art, making the design a manifestation of movement.

enso culture - Tattoo Strategies
Image credit: pinterest.com

You can also relate its meaning to the universe’s natural phenomena, vastness, and limitlessness. It also represents the void that can enhance your spiritual feelings.

According to the Buddhist lifestyle, the Enso is a pristine symbol, standing for the impeccable state of freeness, where you explore life from a much deeper level.

On the other hand, the sign stands for peace, balance, and strength. It tells people what you prioritize in life.

When you get an Enso tattoo, you allow your artist to make it per their specifications. As they do it their way and it is a creative art, it will not be the same as you would anticipate. Then again, you should see that coming. That is the true beauty of the idea.

Types Of Enso Tattoos


A popular category of the Enso is a lotus flower drawn in the center of the circle.

lotus tatoo logo design - Tattoo Strategies

You will see that Lotus flowers, flaunting their beauty, bloom above mud and dirt. That introduces the perspective of conquering obstacles and creating a life that you find perfect. It shows acceptance and gratitude for what you have while motivating you to overcome what comes your way.


Black Enso With Tree Tattoo Design For Forearm - Tattoo Strategies

It is the most common one where the circle highlights the tree of life. It demonstrates a philosophy that the owner embraces life as it is. They love imperfections and do not fall into the trap of greed. It perfectly signifies the Zen outlook.


Sometimes, artists use different techniques to make the Enso. For example, you can get one made with watercolors. It creates the paintbrush effect beautifully and a touch of uniqueness. You can get both the tattoo motif and a pleasing style from it.

Final Words

The Enso tattoo is all about life. It is a reminder that you should accept and love your life, stop chasing perfection and have the strength to come out of the downfalls.

So you see, the motive of the Zen philosophy emphasizes positivity. Since a tattoo is a part of a person, people often look for a design that will speak their minds. If you think the Enso tattoo matches yours, do not delay getting one for yourself.

Good luck!

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