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I'm looking for a particular kanji, for..

LondonLee

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..yes, it's a tattoo. Wait! Wait, come back!!

Let me try to convince you a little further this is worth your time:

1) I have already read this thread.. and I completely understand where you're coming from with many of the requests you must get
2) I can't read or write kanji but I can write hiragana and katana, and can speak basic-to-moderate Japanese (demo watashi no nihongo wa chotto warui desu) :)
3) In addition to being an admirer of Japanese culture for most of my life (including having several books on irezumi), I also spent two weeks in 2015 in Japan and climbed Fuji-san for the sunrise

My point with all this is that I'm not some valley girl looking for a small symbol to the equivalent of "Live Laugh Love," or something equally cringeworthy in a language I don't appreciate or know the meaning of.

So my question, if you're not already too incensed to cope with helping out on a tattoo, is this: How can I find a suitable kanji to help complete my latest design? This is what my left arm currently looks like:

image1.JPG image2.JPG image3.JPG

..as I'm halfway through my second half sleeve. You will note that it is not entirely traditional Japanese tattoo design as it's deliberately between eastern and western styles. Personally I think there's currently a bit much going on with both the warrior's chinstrap and face mask at the same time.. but hopefully my artist is skilled enough to make everything work once finished.

I'd previously found this kanji for the warrior's chestplate:

Integrity - Japanese Calligraphy Art

..since those values are important to me. And I thought it was simple enough to work on the armour. However, kanji-fluent colleagues have told me that this kanji is quite plain and an everyday word, so therefore wouldn't be very suitable for such a permanent place on my arm or to be boldy displayed on this guy's chest. I've instead then been suggested to look into this:

誠 - Google Search

..but it seems a little on the busy side.

With all this background, can you suggest a way to find a suitable character instead? I'm primarily concerned about the meaning, rather than the look - but clearly both are important. I could get a list of kanji from somewhere, and translate any that I like the look of and see if I value the meaning, but that seems like quite a superficial way of doing it.

(Finally.. I obviously can't stop anyone making any comments that don't fit the brief above - but as long as you say on here whatever you'd say in person, then you'll still have my respect. I'd still be more impressed if you shared your knowledge of kanji with me, though).

Domi arigato gozaimsu. Yoi ichinichi wo.

Lee
 

madphysicist

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Do you have a clear idea of the meaning that you want? Or are you happy with any pleasant meaning as long as the characters look good to you? I think it's hard for others to give advice without being clear on this point.

I think 誠実 would be appropriate for "sincerity/integrity" but I would wait for someone with better Japanese skills to confirm... and you already said you didn't like the character 誠 much.

I would also bear in mind, I doubt you will find many tattoo artists in the UK who know how to write kanji properly (though if you're from London it might be easier...) Most people end up with stencil tattoos that are the opposite of aesthetically pleasing. Just a word of warning in case you hadn't had enough from the other thread!
 

Raijin

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lincstreff

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If you want to go with a single character, one with a similar meaning to 誠 but less cluttered is 忠. The meaning is along the lines of "loyalty, devotion, fidelity, faithfulness." This character appears on the site mentioned in the previous post, as the first part of a two-character compound word, which has a similar meaning.
 

nice gaijin

Resident Realist
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I will give the same advice I give everyone who still wants a kanji tattoo after reading all the warnings: find a tattoo artist who actually knows the language, or you'll look like you stuck your arm in a printer. If that's not possible, at least commission a calligrapher to write the character for them to stencil (ideally, they'd give you a few variations to choose from). That way you have a real unique representation of that character, rather than basing it on something from google image search.
 

OoTmaster

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I read through that thread and found the whole thing "interesting?" yeah I think that's the word I'll go with.
 

LondonLee

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Do you have a clear idea of the meaning that you want? Or are you happy with any pleasant meaning as long as the characters look good to you? I think it's hard for others to give advice without being clear on this point.

I think 誠実 would be appropriate for "sincerity/integrity" but I would wait for someone with better Japanese skills to confirm... and you already said you didn't like the character 誠 much.

I would also bear in mind, I doubt you will find many tattoo artists in the UK who know how to write kanji properly (though if you're from London it might be easier...) Most people end up with stencil tattoos that are the opposite of aesthetically pleasing. Just a word of warning in case you hadn't had enough from the other thread!

Thank you for this. It's a tricky one, I feel like the meaning of kanji is slippery enough that what I want it to mean still might not be exact even if I avoid the usual pitfalls (like reading it off a chart!) and get advice on here. From my understanding, the translation gets pretty deep and I obviously don't want to make a mistake. I don't know, if it were the other way around, if a single word in English would have enough meaning for me.

Although I've got to the best of my knowledge one of the most skilled artists out there in the country, I'll also bear it in mind about the artist as I know that kanji is important right down to the strokes, at least in calligraphy. Thanks again for the advice.
 

LondonLee

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Hey Lee,

Nice ink BTW...

You might consider -

名誉 - Honour (Meiyo), although to make things more interesting, I would use the traditional variant of 誉, so - 名譽.

There are lots of other cool ideas here -

Personalized Honor Chinese and Japanese Kanji Custom Wall Scrolls

Or if you are more interested in something related to bushidō, check out -

Seven Virtues of Bushido - The Code of the Samurai

👍

Thanks for the compliment and these look great. I'm still wary of anything I read now on sites like those linked which are selling their wares, but honour could be a good one. It's also a nice kanji too, although perhaps the horizontal lines would clash with the plates of the armour? I'll try it out in Photoshop perhaps :)
 

LondonLee

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If you want to go with a single character, one with a similar meaning to 誠 but less cluttered is 忠. The meaning is along the lines of "loyalty, devotion, fidelity, faithfulness." This character appears on the site mentioned in the previous post, as the first part of a two-character compound word, which has a similar meaning.

That's probably not quite what I should go for, but I appreciate it's difficult trying to find a meaning for a stranger when they haven't fully provided what they might want themselves! It's a great looking kanji though and would fit will. Thank you for this.
 

LondonLee

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I will give the same advice I give everyone who still wants a kanji tattoo after reading all the warnings: find a tattoo artist who actually knows the language, or you'll look like you stuck your arm in a printer. If that's not possible, at least commission a calligrapher to write the character for them to stencil (ideally, they'd give you a few variations to choose from). That way you have a real unique representation of that character, rather than basing it on something from google image search.

Noted and thanks. I'm beginning to wonder if maybe I should go for a graphic instead of a kanji, so as not to make a mistake both in terms of translation and look. Will keep thinking.
 
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