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Translation of four words

Reb

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Hi! I was wondering if anybody here could translate these four words for me:

Family
Happiness
Imagination
Freedom

Im getting a tattoo with Japanese symbols (the reason for the Japanese symbol choice is as I practice Buddhism) however I don't speak Japanese sadly. Thanks in advance!
 

WonkoTheSane

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Huh... I just now noticed there isn't an emoji of a smiley face eating popcorn. Seems useful here.
 

nice gaijin

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There are so many reasons to not get a tattoo in a language you don't understand, especially when the artist themselves do not understand how to write the characters (at best you'll look like you put your arm in a computer printer, or they'll write the wrong or a non-existent character... or much worse).

There are tons of threads here of people who just need a "simple" translation, or want us to check to make sure their friend wrote some horrific thing correctly, only to be rebuffed when they find out that Japanese isn't so simple. Please look through these threads and make sure you're making the right decision here: Search Results for Query: tattoo | Japan Forum

There's also Hanzi Smatter, a collection of images that show and explain just how bad kanji/hanzi tattoos can be. Please look through this as well: hanzismatter.blogspot.com

That said, if you want four semi-random words permanently inked on your body and there's nothing in the above links that convinces you this a bad idea... the common words would be:

Family - 家族
Happiness - 福楽 (more like happiness and good fortune, but like there are 5 or 6 different ways to write this and plain happiness is just 幸い but everything else is a compound so let's stick with that UH OH don't look behind the curtain it's way more complicated back here)
Imagination - 想像
Freedom - 自由

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Mike Cash

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I'm struggling to understand the logical connection between those four words, Buddhism, and writing them in Japanese.

I can't help but think of how the English language Buddhism podcasts I've tried listening to almost universally have some over-the-top "Oriental" music for their intro....while the Japanese language Buddhism podcasts I've listened to generally have Western music, such as piano.
 
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nice gaijin

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exotic is as exotic does!
 

komoto

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Nice gaijin's reply is good.
By the way I think '幸せ' is better than '福楽' for happiness.
 

Reb

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Thanks for your responses, I will be donating as I do appreciate the time you took to respond to me. To Mike Cash - the words have individual meaning to me separate from the fact of following Buddhism. The connection of Buddhism and Japanese is that the strand of Buddhism I follow - Nichiren Buddhism - is descendant from Japan. Other than this I also do believe it's a very beautiful country with extremely interesting history and culture. You can feel free to argue back against me if you think my reasoning is stupid but these are personal connections for me and so that's all that matters really.

Anyway, thank you again, I really appreciate the time you took.
 

nice gaijin

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If Nichiren is the inspiration for your tattoo, why not use a real mantra rather than four seemingly random words? Namu Myōhō Renge Kyō - Wikipedia

I threw the Japanese into a google image search and found lots of examples of well-done calligraphies of this mantra, including examples of it being used for tattoos. I would defer to the work of actual Japanese calligraphers, otherwise you're likely to end up with a "chicken soup" tattoo
 

Reb

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Yes i know that mantra i chant it daily The reason I didn't select to have that is because the four words individually have personal meaning to me. I want to encompass a lot of aspects of my life/beliefs into it, not just have it solely dedicated to Buddhism. After all, a tattoo is a personal thing. I did consider having Nam Myoho Renge Kyo but I don't know, it just doesn't feel right to have it tattooed on my body. I think partly because the idea is it is for everyone to chant and find energy from. It's hard to describe my exact reasoning but personal reasoning is personal reasoning :)
 

nice gaijin

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Could be worse...
(馬鹿外人, "stupid foreigner")
Yeah, although it's just as possible that they actually wanted that tattoo. I know some people who take up that moniker as a point of pride, for some reason.

@Reb, I understand your reasoning. It's up to you, but if I were to get any tattoos in Japanese, I would want to use examples of real calligraphy of the phrases or words as reference for the ink. Mantra, having been around for so long, often have many beautiful interpretations so it's not hard to find a good example. Random words are harder, especially if you're trying to find them all by the same artist, or at least in the same style as each other. If it comes down to it, I would commission a calligrapher to write the words for you so you don't fall into the many, MANY traps of kanji tattoos.
 

Mike Cash

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Yes i know that mantra i chant it daily
Forgive a slight tangent, but I was wondering if you have ever read the sutra itself and if you have what your thoughts are about it.
 

Reb

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I see your point nice gaijin and thank you for the advice! I understand the complications of trying to understand a language that you don't know and I appreciate all the help you're giving!


Mike cash - Im currently reading the heart of the lotus sutra by ikeda which explains several of the passages (you probably know it!) but have not read the actual lotus sutra yet. :) in general I find learning about the history of Nichiren and his subsequent followers really interesting. I like Buddhism as every chapter discusses how the idea of Buddhism is to find it within yourself and help spread it to others, rather than praying to a god for good things to happen. The idea that we're at one point in the series of the eternal Buddhahood is quite a profound image. For me it helps to put things into perspective somewhat. I've only been practicing for about a year and a half so I'm no genius about Buddhism, but for me it's become quite a big part of my life in terms of my outlook. Sorry for such a long message. Please do share your thoughts too! I'm always happy to learn from others perspectives :)
 

Mike Cash

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Thanks for your answer. I read a modern Japanese translation of it two or three years ago. I don't think I could give my thoughts on it here without totally derailing your thread.
 
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