Kanji Tattoos, Designs, Pictures, and Ideas

tattoo designs

Kanji script is an intricate system of symbols known as pictograms. These pictograms were first developed in China but became an integral part of written communication in Japan some time around the 5th century. Since then, kanji tattoos have become a way of expressing deeply felt emotions and thoughts through elegant and ancient means. There are roughly 50,000 characters known, and because of this, it is easy to misunderstand or mistake their meaning. Unfortunately, this miscommunication sometimes ends up permanently etched onto the skin of the wearer, so it is important to check and recheck each symbol prior to the tattooing process.

Many kanji tattoos are done in the traditional calligraphy style. These images depict each character in thick, sweeping strokes that look as if they were done by a rounded brush. Sometimes people like to make these images more unique and make the brush strokes look slightly sloppier by leaving behind drops of paint or leaving the edges with unfinished, fading ends. Although black is the most common color for this particular type, some like to have them done in shades of red or jade green.

Despite the fact that calligraphy is very common, some prefer to give their kanji tattoos a more modern slant. For instance, the lines of the characters may be made thin and sharp so as to look as if they were written with a fine-tipped pen. The script may also be given a blunt or block-like appearance. One variation of this particular style would be to create thick lines that are filled in with smaller text. This text could be written in the wearer’s native tongue and may be used to translate what each character means. As an alternative to this, small images that represent the meaning of the character may be used as a background.

Single, meaningful words such as “love,” “joy,” or “peace” are frequently used in kanji tattoos; however, this script can be utilized to tell a much larger story. Poems, lyrics and quotes can often be translated into kanji characters, as can names and dates. It is also fairly common to see this script mingled with images or symbols that are relevant to the wearer. For instance, a portrait of a loved one may be surrounded by kanji script that tells the name and date of birth of the person in the picture. Astrological signs, animals, sheet music and flowers may also make their way into this particular style of kanji body art.


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  1. kanji4tattoos Said,

    Unfortunately some of the above are wrong kanji…
    like… “Flame” should be 炎

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