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Video:Japanese Tattoos: Choosing a Japanese Script for a Tattoo

with Ayaka Hills

Choosing a Japanese script for a tattoo can be difficult, especially when trying to decide between the three script styles: Kanji, Katana and Hiragana. Here are some tips on how to choose a Japanese script for a tattoo.See Transcript

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Transcript:Japanese Tattoos: Choosing a Japanese Script for a Tattoo

Hi. I'm Ayaka Hills of Hills Learning in New York for About.com. In this video, I'll be going over some of the things you may want to consider in choosing the right Japanese script for a tattoo.

Japanese Kanji Scripts for Tattoos

Japanese is written in 3 sets of scripts. Roughly speaking, Kanji is pictorial. These characters can be used to write words and phrases. Kanji are typically more detailed than the other scripts.

Here are some popular kanji for tattoos:

力: This is the kanji for power, or strength. It's pronounced ちから(chikara).

龍: This is the kanji for dragon. It's pronounced りゅう (ryu).

刀: This is the kanji for sword. It's pronounced かたな (katana).

侍: This is the kanji for samurai.

Japanese Kanji Script for Tattoo Phrases

Kanji can also be combined to write a word or a phrase. For example: 忍耐. This is the kanji for the the word にんたい (nintai), which means perseverance.

弱肉強食: This is how the phrase "survival of the fittest" can be written with kanji. It's pronounced じゃくにくきょうしょく(jyakunikukyoshoku).

As with other Japanese scripts, the text can be written horizontally, as you see now, from left to right, or vertically, from top to bottom, in this way:



Japanese Katana Script for a Tattoo

Katakana is usually used for foreign words. So if you have a Western name, this is the script that is typically used to write your name.

Here's how to write Lynn in Katakana: リン. If you wish, you can also used kanji to spell out your name by matching sounds. For example, for the name Lynn, you can use the kanji 林 (りん)(lin) which means はやし (hayashi), or the woods, in Japanese.

Japanese Hiragana Script for Tattoos

Hiragana is typically used to express the grammatical relationships between words. It's also the script children first learn to use in school. So it's considered childish to use for tattoos, unless you want to tattoo a sentence or a phrase.

Here's the phrase for "the power of the sword," written in a combination of kanji and hiragana: 剣の力. It's pronounced けんのちから(ken no chikara).

So now you know the scripts. If you're interested in getting a tattoo in Japanese, pick a script, and talk to your tattoo artist, because the characters can be written in many different styles.

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