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Hi Athena,

Just wanted to say *Great Job*. I Really liked your suggestions.

Bob J. NY


Athena,

I'm so glad I found this site before gettin my tatoo. Tattoo looks coooool! x

Suzie K. Toronto


Fantastic service Athena. Expect more requests from my buddies.

Jay. Sacramento


Miss Min,

Looks very nice with Character from you. I feel pride. Thanking you from Singapore

Tam S. Singapore


Athena,

AWESOME symbols. Thanx for the cool suggestions.

Brad M. Wyoming


Hey Athena,

My gf says you *rock*. She loved the translation of my name. Shes gonna order a translation for her mom this week.

Peter S . Iowa


Athena,

COOOL characters :) You are so clever. I LOVE the translation you did for me. Thanks a lot.

Jolie M . NZ


Athena,

I've tried other sites and they are a rip off. Your stuff is THE BEST. My brother will be ordering from you next week, look out for an order from Jake.

Alan W . NY


Athena,

Great site, great products. I love my tattoo thanks to you.

Helen G. Notts (UK)


Min Athena,

Even for Chinese tattoo character from your is better than from most native. Thank you for suggestion on me.

Jackie Wong - AUS


 

 

Chinese Kanji Tattoos and Japanese Kanji Tattoos

Chinese kanji tattoos and Japanese kanji tattoos are the same thing right? RIGHT and WRONG - It’s important to understand what Kanji are before you get inked.

I receive many questions asking if I can suggest good Japanese kanji to be used in tattoo designs. When I explain that I am Chinese and not Japanese people normally get confused and say something like “well, Chinese kanji and Japanese kanji are the same aren’t they?”

I don’t blame western people for being confused because you need to understand a bit about the history of Chinese writing Japanese writing before it makes sense.

Potted history of Chinese writing

The Chinese were the first peoples to develop a system of writing based on characters.
In fact, the Chinese have been using various systems of writing based on pictorial characters for many thousands of years.

Like all ancient history, the exact date when the Chinese started using characters is not known but evidence has been found stretching back over four thousand years.

It’s quite easy to understand how the Chinese character system could have evolved. If you wanted to tell someone about, say, a Mountain then you’d draw a picture of a Mountain. Now, everyone draws mountains slightly differently but over time a standard character for mountain would have been devised and widely adopted. The same for the Sun, the Moon etc. Other characters for more Big, Small, Near and far would have evolved in the same way.

Over time (and remember we have four millennia of time to play with!) a rich and complex language evolved with as many as 60,000 Chinese characters being in existence. Modern day Chinese uses about 6,000 or so.

Along come the Japanese and see something they like

OK, now this is where it can get a bit confusing. The Japanese language also consists of Characters.

Many Japanese characters are actually the same characters as in Chinese. There is a very simple reason for this; the Japanese ‘borrowed’ them from the Chinese language.

The Chinese characters which have been incorporated into the Japanese writing system are known as “Kanji”.


To be really accurate, there is no such thing as Chinese kanji, the Chinese symbols only become known as kanji when they have made the jump into the Japanese ‘alphabet’.

So far so good but where the confusion sets in is that once in Japanese, the Chinese symbol - now called kanji - is used to mean something different to what it meant in Chinese. Not only that, but as the Chinese and Japanese spoken languages are entirely different, the Chinese symbol is pronounced completely differently.

I like to think of it this way. The Japanese saw our Chinese symbols, decided some of them looked really nice and decided to use them in their own language to represent something, but not necessarily the same thing, as we use them to represent. Because Japanese is an entirely different language to Chinese, they gave the characters a sound which was easy for them to say in Japanese.

The Japanese don’t use all of the characters from Chinese but they do use several thousand of them. They also have their own character sets called Hiragana and Katakana which are used together with kanji.

Japanese Kanji Tattoos vs Chinese Character Tattoos

I hope I have been able explain why getting a word or phrase translated into Japanese and Chinese might result in different characters.

It’s really important to ensure that if you want a phrase translated in Chinese you find someone who has a thorough understanding of the Chinese language. Similarly, if you want a Japanese translation use a Japanese translator.