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Oh. My. God. (Unbelievably bad kanji tattoos)

September 3rd, 2007 · 16 Comments

I just came across a blog called "Hanzi Smatter," which chronicles the butchering of Chinese and Japanese writing in the west.

Oh. My. God.

I can't stop repeating that over and over as I see some of the tattoos people have gotten. They're so horrible they're not funny.

Chinese Tattoo Let's use this one for an example. It's no better or worse than any of the others, and that's what's so horrifying. It's really, really bad.

First we have an old character for "money." One of those big ancient coins, I think. Next, "fugu," "buku" which means "poisonous blowfish." absolutely nothing. Next, "a." (Just the sound "ah." No meaning whatsoever.) After that, "ouch." And finally, "love". Roughly translated, this means, "I'm a complete imbecile."

Not even to mention the font. It looks like it came out of an inkjet printer.

Honestly, I don't know what to say. I mean, I see people all the time here wearing T-shirts with English gibberish on them, but for chrissake, they can take the damn things off at the end of the day and throw them in the wash.

If anyone out there has a kanji tattoo, please, don't ever ask me to translate it. Don't even show it to me. After seeing so many really, really bad ones, I get the feeling that there's probably no such thing as a "good one."

Categories: General

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ventura // Sep 3, 2007 at 1:25 am

    No comments..

  • 2 Hage // Sep 3, 2007 at 7:20 am

    I think he actually meant to use 泡 (abuku) with money to mean bubbling over with money… Maybe he was thinking it would be read bottom to top? Love hurts, but I am bubbling over with money??? Regardless it doesn't make sense….

  • 3 Zaren // Sep 3, 2007 at 11:06 am

    Well, I did my research before commiting to ink, and then I only inked the back of a denim vest I wear :)

    (http://spielberg.grossman.com/~jschmidt/peace.jpg – just offering the link to an image, since I dunno if linking is allowed here)

    I was wearing it at a store in Indianapolis a few years ago, and one of the workers there, an elderly Japanese man, came walking down my aisle. He stopped, looked at my back, looked me over, and said "What's that say on your back?"

    I looked at him and said "As far as I know, it says 'peace'."

    He gave me a bit of a look with one squinted eye and said "And who told you that?"

    Suddenly feeling a bit concerned that I wrote something wrong, I explained that I researched the characters online, and found several places that referenced the same characters, so I hoped it was right…

    He paused for a few uncomfortable seconds, then grinned and said "Yep, that's exactly what is says!" He then turned and walked back down the aisle, chirping to himself – "Peace, huh? You no like war? Good, that's good…"

    I've got the katakana for my wife and kid's names painted onto the jean jacket I wear as well – no way I could get actual tats, so I went with the paint on my second skin.

  • 4 Rich Pav // Sep 3, 2007 at 11:21 am

    @Hage: You should see some of the other tattoos on that site. Many people have kanji written on themselves either upside-down or backwards, or written so poorly it looks like Klingon. I don't know if I'd be able to hide the look of horror if I met someone with a tattoo like that. I can't believe that rocket scientists and quantum physicists can be of the same species as the colossally stupid people who get these tats. The rift in intelligence between the two poles is just too great.

    If I were to go back to school, I think I'd learn how to do laser tattoo removal and retire very wealthy. It can't be that difficult.

    BTW, "abuku zeni" means "easy money," like lottery winnings or money given to you for free.


  • 5 Mark // Sep 4, 2007 at 2:43 am

    This is the opposite of the theme of this post, but has anybody seen similar websites that show tattoos that actually are true to their intended meanings? I always see the horrible ones, I wonder if anybody is actually getting them right.

  • 6 Rich Pav // Sep 4, 2007 at 11:31 am

    @Mark: I was wondering the same thing. After seeing so many bad ones, I wonder what they look like when done right. Try this search in Google on the Japanese word for tattoo.

  • 7 Jesse // Sep 13, 2007 at 2:45 am

    Well it would look pretty retarded for you to get "fire" for instance tattooed on you back. I would assume that would be the same for a Japanese person to have tattooed on themselves in Kanji.

  • 8 Jesse // Sep 13, 2007 at 2:55 am

    Meaning tattoos like this are dumb, no matter what language you write them in.

  • 9 Bill Chapman // Sep 13, 2007 at 7:00 am

    Rich, My wife tells me that, even though all Chinese dialects use a common written language, they have different meanings (and of course, different pronunciations). So those tattoos may be correct in Cantonese or Mandarin or Taiwanese. Then, new words, such as computer, were derived differently due to cultural separation. For example, in Taiwan, the Mandarin for "computer" is a combination of "electric" and "calculator," but in China, the word is constructed from radicals meaning "electric" and "brain." -Bill

  • 10 Anonymous // Feb 20, 2008 at 10:23 am

    [troll]its THEIR bodies, shut the FUCK up if you dont like it winin pussies

  • 11 lip // Apr 16, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    ur shit lad lol its gud lad

  • 12 Bob // Jan 7, 2009 at 3:00 am

    The last character "変" is hen, not ai ”愛”

  • 13 Kelley // Jun 24, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    No Bob. The last character is not hen (変) it is koi (恋) which does mean love, but a different kind of love from the character ai.

  • 14 teddeler // Sep 30, 2009 at 1:41 pm

    I am new to studying kanji but I actually see an intelligent joke in the tatoo in the picture above:

    1st character (kanji) – "coin"
    2nd (2 hiriganan characters) – boo-koo
    3rd (hirigana) – 'A'
    4th (kanji + 1 hirigana character) – "pain" + 'i' pronounced 'ee'
    5th (kanji) – "romance"

    Now think boo-koo as in bookoo (buku) bucks – lots of money.
    And pain+ee = penny.

    And you get "Buku coins for a penny romance."

    Yes, if the maker wanted pure Japanese/Chinese then it's jibberish but I see a fairly witty wordplay in two languages (possibly three, I'm not sure of the origins of 'buku').

    You might want to reserve judgement on the guy's intelligence (though possibly not on the guy's relationship to women).

  • 15 Anonymous // Dec 28, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    hey there are good ones….ones that were made by people who can actually speak japanese and write kanji…..I've actually seen a couple that were successful in their kanji and its interpretation….

  • 16 外国人のやっちまった系漢字タトゥー | 分かった!海外~海外のニュースと反応~ // Aug 31, 2011 at 4:32 pm

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