Asian Symbols Tattoo Service
Don't end up with meaningless or fake Chinese characters on your body!
It seems that having Chinese/Japanese character tattoos is getting more popular every day. From pop divas to top sports stars, everyone is getting inked with Asian tattoos.
But there is a huge problem!
Many people (including Britney Spears) are ending up with incorrect characters or meaningless characters that some tattoo artist simply made up.
To make matters worse, virtually all flashers in tattoo parlors contain some errors or misrepresentations!
There are even websites in China and Japan whose sole purpose seems to be making fun of American movie stars, ball players, and singers who've been inked with strange Asian tattoos.
Don't end up with "Big Gay Pink Dragon" on your arm (unless that's what you want). Plenty of people have sent me pictures of their Asian character tattoos, and many times, I've had to tell them some really bad news about the meaning of their tattoo. There was actually a guy that had "powerful dragon female" on his neck. That might be fine for a feminist or
some "other type of woman" (insert your own label, I'm not touching this one), but for this guy, it was devastating, and if I read his last email correctly, he was on his way to the tattoo parlor to put some "special artwork" on tattoo artist's face.
To avoid all of this, I've created our "Asian tattoo service".
Whether you need just one simple character, or you want a whole phrase translated, we'll do it for you, and output it as large image files in a variety of character styles.
All of our work is checked by one white guy (me), and a professional native Chinese translator (who happens to be my wife). She and I have worked professionally to translate books, important documents, and of course, stories and titles of artwork that you see on our website. In short, we have a lot of experience translating, and we are not going to steer you wrong - my reputation depends on it. Note: We also work with a native Japanese translator if that is your language choice.
Much of the time, single words are written the same in Japanese and Chinese (in fact, they are often the same in old Korean Hanja too). Therefore your tattoo will often be universal in the CJK (Chinese Japanese Korean) world.
However, if this is not the case, I suggest going with the Chinese version, since a third of the world's population will be able to natively read your tattoo, while about 1% of the world population is Japanese.
FYI: They were Chinese characters first!
Japan did not have a written language, and simply absorbed Chinese characters into the Japanese language by meaning around the 5th century. The word Kanji in Japanese actually means "Chinese Characters".
A similar thing happened in Korea (though Hanja characters were almost replaced by Hangul characters in the last century). The word Hanja in Korean means "Chinese Characters" and these are still used in literature and proper names in South Korea.
There was even a time when Vietnam used Chinese characters as it's form of written language.
This explains why words are often written exactly the same way in both Chinese and Japanese. In the same way that many western languages (French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and somewhat English) have a Latin root, you could say that Japanese and Korean have a Chinese root.
A big disclaimer: Language has evolved, so meanings diverge over time. Today, probably 85% of Japanese Kanji words have the same meaning in the original Chinese. However, 15% of the time, they are very different.
We'll get you away from the pitfalls, and give you the info you need...
If you order "Samurai" in Japanese we'll let you know that this character means "waiter" or "servant" in Chinese, so that you can make an informed decision.
Another example: The title "Magnificent Geisha" in Japanese means "Talented Whore" in Chinese. But there is a word in Chinese that means "Mysterious Woman" but means "whore" in Japanese.
As you can see, in some cases, you need to be careful.
I've spent a decade of my life living in various Japanese and Chinese households while studying both languages. So if there is anyone in a position to bridge your western ideas with Asian languages, it's me.
Just enter the word, character, or phrase that you are looking for in the order form at the bottom of this page.
After that, we may email back and forth with you a little, if your phrase is complex. We really want to make sure it is accurate. Then, after a day or two, we'll give you a web page to download and print image files of your characters.
To make it simple, this service is priced based on the number of English words that you want translated.
It's $20 for the first word, and $5 for each additional word.
FYI: English words will be represented with one or two Chinese characters. In some cases, as many as three characters.
Note: You can count compound words like "will-power" or "non-violence" as one. Also, no need to count little articles like "and", "is", "of", "the" etc.
Here are some samples of character types/styles/fonts that you will have access to:
Click here for a Free Sample of what to expect when you pay for this service.
Check out all the possibilities for a Chinese character and Japanese Kanji Dragon tattoo.
Seal Script (Zhuanshu) Chinese CharactersOver 2200 years old
Original Ancient Seal Script
Typical Seal Script
Square Seal Script
|Examples of the earliest pictographs or hieroglyphics in China date back almost 5000 years. The most famous are the "oracle inscriptions" on tortoise shells from Shang Dynasty (17th to 11th century B.C.).
Here's the quick history lesson: The area now known as China was for many centuries, a fragmented region with various kingdoms rising and falling. Each kingdom or nationality in this rugged land had it's own writing system, and could not effectively communicate with people of other kingdoms.
Finally, in about 221 B.C. the first Qin Dynasty Emperor unified all of China. One of the Qin Emperor's goals was to standardize the writing system across all of his empire which he did during the first 20 years of his reign.
Seal Script Characters were the first standardized writing system to be adopted across much of Asia.
Free Chinese Dragon Symbol Tattoo Stencils.
Official Script (Lishu) Chinese CharactersAlmost as old as Seal Script
Transitional Official Script
Stylized Official Script
Fine-Line Official Script
|The Official Script was the second-generation of writing approved during the Qin Dynasty. Official Script is easier to write and a little more flexible compared to Seal Script, but is still very complex. The printing press would not be invented for thousands of years, so official scribes literally had their hands full as they penned various documents.|
Traditional (Kaishu) Chinese CharactersUp to 1700 years old
Handwriting Traditional (Xingshu)
|These characters are understood in China, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao, much of South Korea, as well as many people in Malaysia, and communities of Chinese and Japanese people around the world.|
Historians will argue this point, but the Traditional Chinese Characters that you see today entered a somewhat final lexicon during the Wei kingdom (220-265 A.D.) and the Jin Dynasties (265-420 A.D.).
Simplified Chinese CharactersOnly in existence for 50 years
Simplified Computer Font
|These characters were implemented in 1956 after Chairman Mao took over China in 1949. They are based loosely on traditional characters, but lack many of the strokes of the originals. Chairman Mao's idea was to make Chinese characters easier to write for the under-educated masses in China at that time. These characters are only used in mainland China (and somewhat in Singapore and Chinese communities around Malaysia).
I do not recommend these characters for tattoos because they are not universally understood throughout many Oriental cultures in the same way that Traditional Characters are.
Note that most people in the mainland with anything slightly beyond a high school education can read Traditional Characters (and many Traditional Characters were left untouched during the changeover to the Simplified Character system).
Also note that Japan went through a simplification program after WWII with similar results.
Free Dragon Character Tattoo.
Special Traditional Chinese Character FontsSlightly older than yesterday
Japanese Tea Cup
Ming or Song Style
|On everything from billboards, logos, TV commercials, and items on store shelves in China, you will see characters like these.
"Ming/Song" and "Saw Tooth" are moderately popular for tattoos.
However, "Hello Kitty"... ...not so much.
This site maintained by Oriental Outpost - Discount Asian Art
More Character Samples
Below are all the characters for the word "Mei Guo" which means "America" (as in the USA) written vertically.
If you are curious, mei = beautiful and guo = country or kingdom
Therefore, the name for America in Chinese literally means
Please note: All Chinese Characters can be written vertically from top to bottom. Simplified Characters are written from left to right, and Traditional Characters are usually written from right to left when not written vertically.
We'll be glad to explain any issues or questions that you might have. There are a lot of differences between English and Chinese, not only in the use of Chinese characters versus Roman letters, but also in grammar, phrase construction and in meanings that are often historically attached to certain words or characters.
The following titles are just to help people who are searching for Asian tattoo info to find this page.
Chinese Calligraphy Tattoos
Chinese Scroll Tattoos
Japanese Scroll Tattoos
Tattoo Chinese Calligraphy
Asian Calligraphy Tattoo
Japanese Samurai Tattoo
Japanese Kanji Tattoo Symbols