Behind Kanji Tattoos

The Mystery of Kanji Tattoos

It cannot be stressed enough, just how important it is to be sure that you research and trust your tattooist completely when getting kanji tattoos.  Every one of these symbols is made of several brush strokes that must be done in a specific order to make sense.  These symbols are true pieces of art and someone inexperienced could leave you with a tattoo that doesn’t hold the meaning that you had hoped for.

This Japanese system is based not on alphabetical letters but rather complex symbols that often require 30 brush strokes.  Some symbols are so complex and confusing that they can provide up to 10 different meanings.  Kanji tattoos are made up of pictorial ideas that represent nouns, adjectives and verbs and there are literally thousands of them.  In fact, it is not uncommon to view at least 1,000 of these symbols just reading the newspaper which is a significant difference from the English alphabet that is comprised of 26 letters.

What Types of Symbols are Used?

There are basically three different types of symbols that are used in kanji tattoos being sosho, gyosho and kaisho.  Sosho is full cursive while gyosho is semi-cursive.  The most common form used however is kaisho which is made up of a bold angular black script.

It is often left up to the tattooist to recommend which symbol flows best in the piece by the final decision has to be made by the wearer because it’s mainly about personal preference.  Some will provide kanji tattoos that are neat and precise while others will offer a flowing, loose and graceful look.

Kanji tattoos are meant to completely represent self-interpretation so take the time to reflect about what symbols that you are drawn to, regardless of what type of symbol your artist recommends.  Kanji representation comes from within so don’t be influenced to choose one that doesn’t suit you.

Where did Kanji Originate?

Interestingly, the Japanese borrowed this pictogram language from the Chinese and Koreans.  However, even though they adopted these symbols as their own, the language associated with them was not understood so the people of Japan created an entirely fresh language by providing their own meaning to every symbol.

In doing so, the Japanese also incorporated two alphabets (katakana and hiragana) into the meaning of the symbols, making them even more mysterious, beautiful and complex.  Therefore, to have a full understanding of what kanji tattoos actually mean, ideally you will be able to read and differentiate between the writing system and understand when a symbol means one thing and then means something completely different.

Why Are They so Popular?

That’s easy, they can be worn by anyone, look great on everyone and there are enough symbols to be unique.  Kanji tattoos are one of the most popular varieties searched for on the internet today and it is believed that they will hold their popularity for a very long time.