Do You Know What Your Kanji Says?
So many people love to get Kanji tattoos, but unless you actually know how to read Kanji, how can you even be reasonably sure that what you asked the tattoo artist to “write” on you says anything even remotely like it? The trouble is - you can’t. And just to make that point a little closer to home, there is a blog out there that helps people understand what they or their friends might actually have tattooed on their neck, behind or anywhere else that Kanji tattoos have a habit of showing up.
I love that this guy has a pretty good attitude about it; he doesn’t ridicule stupid white folks for getting Japanese letters tattooed on them without checking on their actual meaning first. The truth is, many people simply believe what they see in some tattoo shop or elsewhere and then get the tattoo.
What I find especially interesting is that he has a “Gibberish Kanji Font Chart” that was actually designed by a professional Japanese-English Translator. It is the letters we often see in tattoo shops that are used to supposedly write translations of English words into Japanese kanji. I have the chart here on the right, and as you can see it proposes various kanji to stand in for letters in the English language. Needless to say, from the name, it is complete malarkey.
If you want to find out if your Kanji tattoo says what you were told it says, you might want to check out his blogspot called hanzismatter.blogspot.ca. It is hilarious what it turns out some people’s tattoos actually mean. I think that this guy is doing a bigger service than he ever considered by helping translate people’s crazy kanji tattoos for them.
A big tip o’ the hat to Tian for maintaining this cool blogspot!!
Finding Kanji Tattoo Symbols
There are many ways to do tattoos from kanji symbols and lots of ways to look it up. If you are considering getting a new tattoo and you want it to be in Kanji, you might want to take a look at some of the more common symbols shown here.
There is also quite a history of people creating kanji symbols for various westernized names by taking the original meaning of the name and then expressing that concept in kanji. You can see a couple of examples here for a few names. Another good way to look for kanji symbols for your tattoo is to go on the various tattoo forums and discuss what you are looking for. You would be surprised to find out that many people use online forums as a way to more finely define exactly what they want to say in their kanji tattoo. So take your time, look around the web and go beyond the basic search and chat with some folks on the forums that have already done their kanji tattoo to find out what their sources were.
Overview of Kanji Tattoos
Getting a tattoo has become extremely popular in recent years in the U.S., especially among younger people. The idea is to be different in some way. Kanji tattoos have also become popular because they are different. Kanji symbols are basically Chinese characters that are put together in a way to have a special meaning in Japanese, so to be correct these are Japanese tattoos. These tattoos are ideographic characters. Each character represents an entire object or idea. The whole tattoo consists of ideas combined to have a specific meaning. Before you decide to consider kanji tattoos, you should know that some of the ideographic characters can have up to as high as 30 strokes. You may want to select a message based upon the number of strokes involved.
Many people who speak English and are not at all familiar with Japanese or Chinese characters have to rely on an expert translator to help them get the correct characters for their kanji tattoos. Be careful not to just get characters off the Internet and run out and get your tattoo done. Sometimes Japanese characters and pronunciations can be similar but have completely different meanings. Be sure before you get a permanent tattoo that you have the exact meaning that you want. Although tattoos can be removed sometimes, it is not an easy or cheap process.
Kanji tattoos can be made to express about anything you want them to. Some of the most popular tattoo expressions are provided below:
Ambition Wisdom Desire
Belief Zen Courage
Buddhism Victory Bravery
The Code of Samurai Truth Beauty
Dragon Success Strength
Remember that symbols can be combined to send a specific message. One thing that many English speaking people mistakenly think about kanji tattoos is that they can translate an English message exactly into Kanji. This is not the case. Kanji is more a language of pictures rather than letters. Many people do not do their homework on the translation and sometimes find out after they already have their tattoos that they do not mean what they originally thought they did. It is a good idea to talk to someone who speaks Japanese as their native language so that you get the correct message when you go to the tattoo parlor.
Kanji tattoos seem to be the most popular Japanese language tattoos with Westerners. They can be very colorful and exotic looking. Kanji can be incorporated into a larger message on the back for example. They kind of tell a story with pictures. They can also have a very simple message and cover a smaller area of the body. Many people decide to have tattoos done that are hidden under clothing, while others send a visual message that covers a large part of their bodies. Many of the messages that are sent with kanji tattoos are more general in nature, rather than a specific message. The characters are not translated exactly into specific English words. That is why it is recommended that you get some professional help with the translation of the tattoo you are planning to use.
Dragonfly Kanjii Tattoos
People get tattoos for all kinds of reasons. For many women, they can be a graceful declaration of a concept or idea. One of the reasons many women love to have dragonfly kanjii tattoos done is that the dragonfly is such a great symbol to have made into a tattoo. There is the shape of the dragonfly in the first place, it is a very deeply erotic and potent symbol. Then there is the fact that in many Asian cultures the dragonfly has so many deep menaings that we have come to adapt here in western culutre. When you add this to the simple fact that they are just plain beautiful, many women just love the look of the dragonfly.
Then there are the many ways that dragonflys have come to be symbolic in the japanese culture. Like butterflies, many women came to love the dragonflys in the early 90s, when they were first very popular. Here is a list of some of the things that a dragonfly tattoo can be symbolic of:
In addition, the dragonfly kanjii tattoo can represent different things in different cultures. In Asia it is a symbol of change, because just like a butterfly the dragonfly can be blown about by the winds of change.In addition, because they can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time, dragonflies have also become a symbol of fertility.
It is easy to see that with this kind of meaning, a dragonfly kanjii tattoo can be one that just about anyone would love to have. Here are just a few of the many great dragonfly kanjii tattoos that you or anyone you know could enjoy.
Kanjii Tattoo Book
I just came across a great book on kanjii tattoos titled Designing with Kanji: Japanese Character Motifs for Surface, Skin & Spirit. This book not only provides Kanji translations of common words, it also provides historical information on tribal tattoos.
The reason tattoo types like Kanji is so popular probably deals with the fact that there's some mystery around the symbolism of the tattoos. When you look at someone's Kanji tattoos you don't know the meaning of the symbols you're looking at. There's a mystery surrounding the designs which transfers over to the wearer. It can also be a great conversation piece. Additionally, the symbol can mean something for the wearer that's personal to them.
If you like Kanji tattoos I think you'll love this book.
Welcome to Kanji Tattoos!
This hub will provide a large variety of kanjii symbols that can be used for tattoos. Feel free to save them to your computer, print them, and take them to your tattoo artist.
It's important to choose tattoos that have a meaning to YOU. It's our goal to provide kanjii symbols and characters that meet that need. Feel free to email us if you have a special request. We'll do our best to find the symbol for you!
Kanji Tattoos and Symbols: September 2008
Popular Kanji Symbols
Kanji Symbol for "Link"
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