Common Mistakes With Kanji Tattoos

Japanese inspired kanji tattoos are one of the most popular styles of tattoos according to a recent tattoo survey. Most people who think about getting a kanji tattoo are under the mistaken belief that you can translate Japanese symbols directly from English into kanji. This lack of awareness hasn’t stopped an increasing number of people from getting Japanese characters tattooed onto their bodies and sometimes regretting it after they discover that their kanji doesn’t mean what they thought it did.

Kanji tattoos require Japanese translation.

Kanji tattoo meaning Tao or ‘The Way’. Find your kanji meaning here

Most Japanese tattoos found on tattoo shop walls – and on most people’s skin – are printed in a bland, everyday variety of type. The written Japanese and Chinese languages are composed not of individual letters but of ideographs or pictographs, which represent an idea or thing. Some characters consist of more than 30 strokes.

The two languages share some of the same pictographs, for instance those meaning beauty, love, woman, strength and happiness. Such concepts are the most commonly requested. Things borrowed from other cultures can come to have a deeper, more personal meaning. The visual force of the Chinese and Japanese characters is quite dramatic and has a beauty of its own.

In business since 1949, tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle counts Janis Joplin, Peter Fonda, Joan Baez and “all the members of the Allman Brothers” among his customers. He owned the San Francisco Tattoo Museum until the 1989 earthquake destroyed his building.

Famous tattoo artist Lyle Tuttle speaking about traditional Japanese kanji tattoos, which he says are elaborate, multi-coloured pictures that tell a story and can cover a person’s body turns away requests to write specific things in kanji. Tuttle instead suggests customers talk to native speakers before getting a kanji done.

The popularity of kanjis in the West hasn’t impressed many of those who speak or read Japanese or Chinese fluently. Kanjis may look cool to non Japanese or Chinese speakers but don’t always make sense to native speakers. A true Japanese tattoo has meaning.

Kanjis are NOT really a traditional Japanese tattoo BUT more a style of tattoo. If you are getting a kanji be sure that what you are getting done is something that means a lot to you and is translated correctly.

Don’t make the embarrassing mistake thousands of others have!

Japan Mayor Fights to Erase Tattoos

More than 100 employees at the Osaka city government may have to have their tattoos removed or search for another job following the local mayor’s crackdown on tattoos.

Japanese tattoos.

Toru Hashimoto, a 42-year-old lawyer who became mayor of Osaka late last year, ordered a survey of tattoo ownership among more than 30,000 employees after complaints that a welfare officer had intimidated children by showing off his inkwork.

Tattoos, especially large, intricate motifs of mythical beasts and shogun-era courtesans, are traditionally associated in Japan with Yakuza gang membership.

View Japanese Tattoos

These days, modest designs occasionally visible on the arms, necks and legs of young Japanese people are more a fashion statement than evidence of antisocial tendencies.

Even so, swimming pools and public baths ban tattoos in principle, or request that they be covered up; and major employers, including Japan’s two biggest airlines, ban flight attendants from having tattoos.

The Osaka survey asked employees to report any tattoos on their arms, legs, heads or any other part of the body that is visible to members of the public while they are on official duty. They were also asked to provide details about concealed tattoos, and how long they had had them.

The government is now considering whether to ask the employees, most of whom work in waste disposal and public transport, to have their tattoos erased, or even to find another job.