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Three unknown kanji

btrapp79

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Hello all!

This is my first time posting here. My 92nd year old grandfather recently passed away and as I was cleaning out his basement I came across these brass kanji. I would like to clean them and hang them up, but I definitely would like to know what they mean first. I would greatly appreciate any help in translating them. Thank you very much!
 

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They are 寿 (kotobuki) - longevity、best wishes
福 (fuku) - good fortune
and 禄 (saiwai) - happiness
 

Toritoribe

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福禄寿 Fukurokuju is the name of one of 七福神 Seven Lucky Gods, so if the order of those kanji is "kanji1 --> kanji2 --> kanji" or the reverse order, it might refer to a single compound word.

禄 indeed can be read saiwai, but its meaning is more likely "gift from Heaven", and the most common meaning of 禄 is salary.;)
 

btrapp79

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Ah, thank you very much!

Toritoribe, if I was to hang these on a wall, would it make more sense to hang them in a horizontal line from right to left or a vertical line from top to bottom?
 

btrapp79

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Assuming that they would be laid out "kanji1 --> kanji2 --> kanji". Would it make any difference if was the reverse order?

Since they will be grouped together, I would like them to appear in the order it would make the most sense in.

BTW, thank you for the wikipedia link, it was very informative!
 

Toritoribe

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The order from left to right is the one for modern Japanese, and the reverse order is for classical Japanese, so each one, including the vertical order(from top to bottom, needless to say) are all make sense. "From left to right" or vertical is more common, though.
 

joadbres

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There is also a Chinese interpretation of these characters, which differs somewhat from the Japanese interpretation.
Per that, the characters represent three gods - not one. They also represent the three attributes of a good life (prosperity, status, and longevity). When hanging them, the preferred order is (from right to left, the order in which they are traditionally read): kanji1 -> kanji2 -> kanji.

Based on the exact forms of the three characters in the pictures you provided, as well as customs of Chinese culture as compared to Japanese, I think it is more likely that these characters were produced Taiwan (or possibly mainland China or some other region with a large Chinese population) than in Japan.

Reference: Sanxing (deities) - Wikipedia
 

Toritoribe

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Ah, yes, it can be Chinese, as mentioned in the wiki page I linked in my previous post. The traditional form of kanji such like 壽 or 祿 is used also in Japan, especially for traditional events/actions or for prayer, but yes, three separated kanji might fit for the Chinese one.

Anyway, the order "kanji -> kanji2 -> kanji1 (from left to right)" can work both for Japanese Fukurokuju (classical order) and Chinese Fu Lu Shou, so this would be the best choice.
 

joadbres

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When I mentioned "the exact forms of the characters", I wasn't referring simply to the Japanese classification of newer forms vs. older forms of characters (i.e., shinjitai vs. kyuujitai), but rather much more nuanced differences, such as the appearance of the left-hand side of the kanji1 and kanji2 characters (if made in Japan, the final stroke would typically be more prominent), and the two halves of the kanji2 character (in Japan, the kyuujitai form of the right-hand side is commonly paired with the kyuujitai form of the left-hand side). While it is not impossible that these subtle features could be found in objects designed in Japan, they are much more likely to be of Chinese origin.

Because the Chinese have a preferred order for displaying the characters, while the Japanese do not, and the Chinese order also works for Japanese, I think it is best to display them in the order I specified in my earlier post.
 

btrapp79

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Cool! I do know that my grandfather was in the Philippines (1945-46) and Korea (1952?). I imagine he might have gone through Japan but I do not know for sure. I don't believe he ever went to China but I can't say for sure. I imagine that he probably picked these up during one of those times, but again, I simply don't know for sure. For all I know, he might have bought these later on in life here in the U.S.

Thank you all for sharing your knowledge with me! I tried a couple different websites where I could write in the kanji to get a definition but was sadly unable to reproduce any of them accurately. Now I can hang them up and think of my grandfather when I see them!
 

Toritoribe

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When I mentioned "the exact forms of the characters", I wasn't referring simply to the Japanese classification of newer forms vs. older forms of characters (i.e., shinjitai vs. kyuujitai), but rather much more nuanced differences, such as the appearance of the left-hand side of the kanji1 and kanji2 characters (if made in Japan, the final stroke would typically be more prominent), and the two halves of the kanji2 character (in Japan, the kyuujitai form of the right-hand side is commonly paired with the kyuujitai form of the left-hand side). While it is not impossible that these subtle features could be found in objects designed in Japan, they are much more likely to be of Chinese origin.
Yes, it's not impossible, and actually those traditional forms are used also in Japan.
example1.jpg
example2.jpg
example3.jpg

I think it is best to display them in the order I specified in my earlier post.
So, we seem to reach the same conclusion.
Anyway, the order "kanji -> kanji2 -> kanji1 (from left to right)" can work both for Japanese Fukurokuju (classical order) and Chinese Fu Lu Shou, so this would be the best choice.
the preferred order is (from right to left, the order in which they are traditionally read): kanji1 -> kanji2 -> kanji.
 
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