The crane is known as the “heavenly crane,” the “crane of good fortune,” the “bird of happiness,” and the “bird of peace.” It is considered to be a most auspicious bird throughout the traditional cultures of southeast Asia.
When Chinese workers came to America, the imagery was mistakenly applied to storks instead – but the meaning was preserved, in that the stork brought newborn babies to fortunate families.
After the conclusion of World War II, the traditional image of the crane achieved new heights of popularity in Japan, as a war-torn population prayed for long-term peace and prosperity in the wake of such terrible suffering.
These feelings, this sense of hope, have served to spread the popularity of the crane all over the globe. Like the great bird itself with its wings spread wide, the crane has flown throughout western society. Its image in tattooing is used to express hope and optimism for a bright and peaceful future, but it’s also come to mean more than that: for many American men, the crane means one with the strength, reliability, and sense of responsibility necessary to achieve and maintain that peaceful and hopeful optimism.
Crane tattoos are common among young professionals and entrepreneurs — people who are hopeful for a stroke of good luck in securing the future for themselves and their families. They’re found quite frequently among men who hope to make the world a better place, whether by fighting for their freedom, or simply being the best that they can be, every day. To sport a crane tattoo is to take pride in one’s efforts to improve themselves.