Kanji Tattoos

#4672 no rooms for the tattooed or drunk

People get tattoos for as many reasons as there are tattoo designs. Japanese designs in particular are popular, but the kanji tattoo is a tricky choice.

It seems like a kanji tattoo is a small and inexpensive risk. The truth is that you want to run your idea by a cultural native before getting ink done. Words that sound cool might also have a negative meaning or a cultural inside joke. It's easy to end-up with a bad kanji tattoo.

Much of the problem with a small kanji tattoo, especially a single character, is that they often don't have one single meaning. And if the only context is that it's printed on skin, well that kinda colors the interpretation.

I'd stick with popular kanji tattoo designs used by actual Japanese people (irezumi). Tattoos have a history of criminality in Japan and were only made legal in 1948. Some businesses in Japan still ban customers with tattoos. Finding an actual tattoo shop in Japan could be difficult, but likely worth the effort.

Famous Japanese poems and folk stories are safer and more interesting source material. These works have translations, images and context. I would still research the author to make sure I wasn't quoting a known super-jerk.

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