Tattoo sleeves

To be called a ‘tattoo arm sleeve’ the tattooed arm must be ONLY arranged as the Gaku-Bori – it must have Mikiri of any kind.  

All tattoo sleeves traditionally include a chest panel called ‘Hikae’ which can be done in slightly different ways and have different size.


The verb ‘Hikae’ can mean “to restrain oneself” and this classic layout does just that. Hikae cover the shoulders and arms, making it possible to easily hide the tattoos with a v-neck shirt. There are 3 common types of hikae: ‘light’, which takes approximately 1/3 of a chest surface, ‘shallow’ which does not extend over the chest muscle and ‘deep’ which extends over the chest and sometimes surrounds the nipples.

Japanese Tattoo Hannya
Japanese tattoo Gaku-Bori
Short Sleeve
✅ Can be done with different types of Hikae

Half Sleeve or “Short sleeve”.

Go-bu – tattooed area started from chest panel(Hikae) and ended slightly above an elbow. The same way like a sleeve of a t-shirt.

3/4 sleeve

Shichi-bu or Hati-bu (7/10 sleeve) – tattooed area started from chest panel(Hikae) and ended below an elbow. Approximately half way between elbow and wrist.


In irezumi, ‘shichitbusode’ refers to sleeves that stop below the elbow, as if a long sleeve is pulled up. The term is also used in clothing.

Irezumi 3/4 tattoo sleeve
3/4 Sleeve
✅ Can be done with different Hikae types
Full sleeve
✅ Can be done with different sizes of Hikae

Full sleeve

Kubu (nagasode) – tattooed area started from chest panel(Hikae) and goes all the way down to a wrist.


The term ‘nagasode’, which means “long sleeves,” is also used to refer to shirts. Nagasode irezumi covers the entire arm and ends at the wrist. There are two lengths of sleeve: kubu and tobu. Kubu ends before the wristbone, while tobu goes beyond the wristbone, stopping right before the hand.


Such tattoos like ‘lower arm sleeve’ or ‘forearm sleeve’  anatomically has no options for mikiri so traditionally can NOT be done.

Not Irezumi
❌ NOT Sleeves.
These tattoo types are NOT traditional Japanese.

Tattoos on all other body parts like legs, rib sides, middle chest etc. can be only done as Nukibori, not ‘framed’ – without any Mikiri, or can be connected to Gakubori existed on the other body parts which already have Mikiri.  


Any kind of motif based on Japanese mythology and scenes from nature can be done on your arm, though to be done as a ‘sleeve’ it must be designed according to traditional pattern.

Technically yes, and this is called ‘one point tattoo’. In our studio we specialize in Gakubori – framed tattoo and do ONLY large scaled tattoos which take entire body part and naturally framed by that part of the body. All the tattoos done on arms are planned according to traditional patterns. We DON’T make such tattoos like: ‘forearm[lower-arm] sleeve’, ‘really short sleeve’ or ‘back side sleeve’, etc.

Leg Sleeve