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japanese people on kanji tattoos 2009/4/20 17:35
hi people, i was wondering how japanese people think about kanji tattoos. do they find them silly, beautiful, do they like the meaning of it? i myself have a kanji tattoo with seishin ryoku which means inner strength.
by nve  

Tattoos 2009/4/20 19:05

I'm not Japanese, but I think you will find that most natives view kanji tattoos in much the same way as we view the funny English you see on Japanese T-shirts. There is also the fact that, like it or not, a significant proportion of the Japanese population still seems to view tattoos as having negative/delinquent connotations regardless of what the tattoo might say.
by Dave in Saitama (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/4/20 19:37
To add, I find it funny sometimes that people get something tattooed thinking it says one thing, but show it to someone who's reading Japanese and realize it's a bunch of jibberish or wrong kanji used. Any case, it is true like it or not, there's usually a strong negativity for those who have tattoos, as they are associated with gangsters/yakuza, delinquents etc. One prime example is many onsens will not allow people who have tattoos to use their facilities.
by ExpressTrain (guest) rate this post as useful

"You must be young." is what I'd say 2009/4/20 20:50
I'm a native Japanese resident and I agree with Dave from Saitama and Express Train.

I myself love looking at tattoos and tattooed people. I wouldn't mind getting one myself if I had the opportunity. I also can tell the difference between non-yakuza and yakuza even if the person was tattooed. But I can't really recall ever seeing a kanji tattoo that really looks nice. Kanji (nor kana) just don't suit tattoos, and a lot of the fonts and meanings are phony.

And frankly, someone with "seishinryoku" tattooed on his/her body has got to be a person who doesn't understand Japanese language, or Japanese culture to say the least. And I'm used to that, too. My son wears shirts that says "Abundant Nature will grow you" on it. What can I say.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: people on kanji tattoos 2009/4/20 23:42
Like the English speaking world has webpages on mangled English (http://www.engrish.com/), Chinese and Japanese people have webpages about mangled Chinese characters and it is quite enlightening: http://www.hanzismatter.com/
by Hoshisato rate this post as useful

a pro 2009/4/21 13:46
One word of advice, if you do decide to have an Asian character tattooed, please go to a tattooist who is very familiar with the characters..preferably Asian. I have already twice seen people who have the words inscribed backwards. I think it's because they put a stencil on you and so it must have gotten transposed....if they look at the tattoo through a mirror it will look right I guess!
by beach (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/4/21 15:09
As that one website proves, if one plans to get a tattoo in a foreign language they don't know, they should check and double, triple check before getting something permanent tattoed onto their body. Check with online forums etc.
by ExpressTrain (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/4/21 18:24
Online forums?? I thought ExpressTrain was a lot smarter than to suggest that. Or is he just being mean ;)

Btw, a very low percentage of "Asians" can read kanji.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

All those Chinese? 2009/4/21 21:20
Hmm, are you sure of that Uco san? There are more than a billion Chinese people in China alone and millions of Chinese outside China, which would make the percentage of Asian people who can read kanji quite high I would have thought.
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/4/21 21:29
What's wrong with checking online? Someone want's a Japanese tattoo, post a picture of what they want tattoed on a site like, Japan-guide!, and have people review it before it's something permanently imprinted into your skin. I figure there's pretty smart people here (on japan-guide) to determine if a kanji combination is correct or a bunch of jibberish.

I'm not big on tattooes either myself, but I figure if you want one imprinted, it's better to have something correct imprinted then something totally wrong or incorrect, even if most people might (or might not) be able to read it.
by ExpressTrain (guest) rate this post as useful

responses 2009/4/21 22:57
I'll make a correction then. A very low percentage of Asian countries teach kanji at school.

Nothing is "wrong" with checking online, but how trustworthy are anonymous posters? Sure, I call myself a native, but you've never met me. I might be a fat French male teenager who just happens to have some knowledge on Japanese, and is good at typing but don't really know good handwriting from bad. And how on earth can one get reliable information on kanji tattoos when this very thread is trying to prove that native Japanese people don't support them? Plus, you got regular posters like Dave from Saitama who posts false information for kanji tattooers just so that viewers like me can laugh.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

re: tattoos 2009/4/22 00:47
I stop all my friends from getting kanji tattoos. Even if the characters were right, often time the words won't make much sense, being a literal translation, and even if the words were translated correctly, in most cases, the fonts look so fake and cheap, they remind me of fast food Chinese restaurant menus with those chopstick fonts. I guess the only way to make sure you get the right tattoo is to get it where they actually speak the language and know how it's supposed to look.
by shimaki (guest) rate this post as useful

. 2009/4/22 01:03
Because there's usually a check and balance here on Japan Guide? You post something, if it's incorrect another poster comes a long and corrects it. I write something you find objectable, you object, I find something, I respond.

It creates debate and discussion.

It's not that only ONE person is responding and you shouldn't go on ONE person's advice, that's the whole reason I said ask around, and the reason discussion boards exist, to discuss.
Look online see if it checks out with other people. If something doesn't look right, someone's going to point it out. That's how we weed out bad information from good information. Then the final decision is left to the original poster to make up his/her mind.
That's the whole point.

I also didn't say this thread, there's a gazillion threads on japan-guide asking people for proper "translations" of words, and or phrases. There seems to always be a check and balance system in those threads, I never see you or anyone questioning those threads, what makes someone asking if a Kanji is a proper translation any different then someone looking for a translation for a letter or email in the hundreds of other threads on Japan guide?

All I'm saying is, check with other sources first then make up their own minds if one is planning to get a kanji tattoo. If I were going to get a tattoo with Russian, I'll check with some russian websites, and other people and get a whole list of inputs, instead of just going on ONE person's advice.
by ExpressTrain (guest) rate this post as useful

ExpressTrain 2009/4/22 09:13
Okay, okay, like I said, I see nothing wrong with checking on-line. If you check on-line, at least you can get "no" for an answer from posters.

All I'm saying is that just because someone says "yes" on this forum and no other person responds, that doesn't mean the answer is correct.

Surely, I use internet posts for great reference, but I only trust official websites and comments that are not anonymous. In other words, if a want to do something that requires great responsibility such as to publish something through the media or to engrave something on my body, I would use on-line forums only as guidelines, and ultimately I would go to someone who I actually know.

But that's just me, and I don't really care about those poor people on http://www.hanzismatter.com/

Btw, I also spot a lot of clearly incorrect comments on this forum that have been left alone, but I don't respond to all of them and neither is it the job of the webmaster to do so.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

... 2009/4/22 10:53
Plus, you got regular posters like Dave from Saitama who posts false information for kanji tattooers just so that viewers like me can laugh.

To be fair, Dave's typical post on the subject are not incorrect per se, at the most he offers obviously ridiculous suggestions which point out the pitfalls of choosing a tattoo in a language you don't understand... and then he asks for a pic ;)

Here's a good example that anyone with an internet connection can realize is tongue in cheek.


And what 'Alex' is in Kanji???

Non-Japanese names are normally written in katakana, so Alex would be written as "アレックス".
If you insist on kanji, then I suppose you could pick something like "荒れ屑". :-o
by Dave in Saitama
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

. 2009/4/23 05:48
I would really recommenc to check the meaning of your tattoos...
Once, I saw a shop where they did permanent kanji tattoos, on the advertisements, they were exemples of some symols you could choose, with a translation, the problem was, the translation wasn't correct at all. One of the phrase was supposed to mean "power" "strong" or this kind of things, but the true meaning was "dish of the day" fortunately, one of my japanese friends was with me this day, so I did'nt end up with some stupid tattoo!
by Tatum (guest) rate this post as useful

Something for kanji-readers to enjoy :) 2009/5/10 17:15
I don't mean to be so picky about the Asian thing, but it was so funny I just had to add this.

I just came back from seeing the great movie "Gran Torino". It was a heartwarming movie with a serious theme, but surprizingly it had many humorous scenes for the viewers to enjoy.

One of the funniest scenes for me was that a young, mean, tough-guy gangster of Asian ancestry wore a big tattoo on his chest. It said 家庭. Guessing from the context of the movie, his family is apparently from a non-kanji-reading Asian country.
by Uco (guest) rate this post as useful

tattoo 2009/5/10 19:03
Uco san, that's funny. I wonder what they thought it said?
by Sira (guest) rate this post as useful

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