Totoro tattoo meaning and symbolism

What do Totoro tattoos represent? Below we will discuss some of the possible meanings and symbolism behind Totoro tattoos. Keep in mind that for those looking to get a tattoo or those who already have one, their experience is personal and they may be looking for love , knowledge, beauty and many other things.

totoro leg tattoo
totoro leg tattoo @ vih.ruffotattoo

Where did this symbol come from?

It is impossible not to mention the movie My Neighbor Totoro when talking about these tattoos. The 1988 Studio Ghibli animated film had a deep impact on me, being my all-time favorite anime and one of my favorite movies of all time.

I remember watching it with my sisters for the first time in Taiwanese, full volume, on a tiny screen in the living room, without subtitles. It’s one of those movies that makes you laugh with glee and cry tears of sadness despite not understanding what is being said most of the time.

I love My Neighbor Totoro for its deep meaning hidden behind children frolicking through nature, with amazing mystical creatures included. There is so much to learn from the little ones, so much about life and what really matters. I do recommend everyone watch it at least once for this reason.

What’s the meaning behind Totoro tattoos?

Among the symbolisms of Totoro tattoos, you will find that there are two main themes often linked in people’s skin. The first one is linked to nature and dreams, the second one is tied to the appreciation for life.

Totoro and Nature

Mythical and symbolic creatures tend to be linked to nature and its power over humans. The forest in My Neighbor Totoro has that power, as does any other mysterious place surrounded by trees. Since Totoro is a mythical creature made of trees and leaves, it can be considered a symbol of nature.

It has been said that Totoro tattoos have a therapeutic effect on those with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. The comforting feeling given by the forest is very familiar to those affected my mental illness, as they spend most of their time in this natural environment.

Totoro and Dreams

The second theme within Totoro tattoos is dreams. The part in the film that gets to me every time I watch it is when Mei goes missing after chasing a mysterious creature through the forest, leaving Satsuki alone in search of her sister. As I watched her lost and calling for her sister, I can’t help but cry.

The entire movie is a series of adventures and misadventures filled with magic, love and fear. The main characters, Satsuki and Mei, are children, which brings to mind another popular theme in tattoos: childhood memories.

In this context, the Totoro becomes a symbol of dreams because it appears in the dreams of children. Their innocence and wonder towards everything is something that should be valued by adults too! Who knows, maybe if we still had that innocent mind capable of seeing Totoro in our surroundings, this world would be a better place…

Totoro tattoos: appreciation for life

Finally, another symbolic value of these tattoos is linked to appreciation for life. It is not uncommon to see anime tattoos linked to the hope of being reborn in another world, where everything seems possible.

The Totoro story takes place on Earth, but it is also said that it comes from the forest. For me, at least, I can’t help but think of J.R.R Tolkien’s Middle Earth when watching the film. If the Totoro really came from this world, it would be a sign of appreciation for nature but also imagination itself.

Totoro tattoos are simple and give off a warm feeling. They can be done in black-and-white or color. The original character is often left empty to allow for transparency, so it appears as if the totoro is coming out of an empty space, rather than being surrounded by trees.

Since the tattoos are small, they are perfect for ladies with smaller upper arm spaces! If you’re in search of a meaningful design that has deep symbolism in Japanese culture, this might just be the one for you .

totoro leg tattoo
totoro leg tattoo @ ando_anime

See you soon <3