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I need help please before I visit Japan in November 2009

yoyoyo

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I had a local artist make something Japanese as a gift to my relitives in Japan when I visit in Japan. It's a hand made wooden box with a samurai on it. It's off of a old Rock and Roll album from the band called Traffic. The problem is he nor myself can read what is written on it. My friend just copied it. I'd really like to know what it says on it before I give it as a gift. 0911091300.jpg
 

nice gaijin

Resident Realist
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it's hard to see the characters in your image, although at first glance they look like something written by someone who doesn't understand Japanese.... Do you maybe have a better quality image of the source material?

It's a lovely carving, though. I'm sure they'll like it
 

Toritoribe

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I agree with nice gaijin-san. Probably the artist doesn't know kanji.

The kanji on the left upper side is 窶ケツ最ステ。ナ?テ媼Ushiwakamaru]; Minamoto no Yoshitsune's childhood name.
 

Chidoriashi

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I would not worry about what it says. Something that nice is sure to be appreciated.
 

Glenski

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Your friend did a very poor job of copying it. My Japanese wife agrees that the upper left kanji looks like someone tried to copy ushiwakamaru, but it's wrong. The other stuff, except for the uppermost right corner (san) is total gibberish and not kanji at all. Quite decorative, but alien language.

If you're planning to give a relative a gift from the country where you are now, it would be better to give them something from that country. Pro sports T-shirt or cap, food, wine, photo book, local craft.

If you are American, and a family member from Japan came with a decorative box with a cowboy or rodeo design on it, but it read "Jakn Wajme" (instead of John Wayne), and had letters in English but so garbled you couldn't make them out, how would you feel?

My wife and I both disagree about that box being appreciated nonetheless. That might be the outward feeling you'll get, but they'll probably pawn it off at the nearest secondhand shop right after you leave.
 
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