Friday, June 17, 2005

Ultra Violent Skin Block

Reader Xavier emails:

"Good evening Tian! I love browsing through your site, and seeing you agree to translate non-tattoo, I'd like to know the significance (if relevant) of this one.

It's a t-shirt I have, and love. When people ask me about the meaning, I often answer that it means "please kick me" or "Asian people are lame" or "very small penis", or anything silly for that matter.

I'd like to be able to answer them correctly for once.
The writing itself, "ultra violent skin block", seems to belong to Diesel clothing line, but I could find the same kanji letters while browsing the Web (and didn't think of checking if my shirt is a Diesel, meh).

Could you let me know if there's anything interesting written on this ?
Thank you."

I am not sure if this shirt should be considered as Engrish or Hanzi Smatter because it has characteristics for both.

The phrase means "[Big] Japan Spirit" or equivalent. 大和 as a single word is "Yamato", the old word for "Japan". 大和魂 itself is a phrased used to refer to the Japanese nationalistic spirit and pride (thanks to Rikoshi). During World War II, Japanese Imperial government used it and similar theme phrases as propaganda slogans to unite the Japanese.

The apparel company Diesel does sell a line of shirts that are called "Ultra Violent Skin Block".

Update: Shirt has been featured in

An email from Engrish saying a similar version of the shirt "Yamato Damashii" shown above has already been featured in


  1. Actually, 大和 as a single word is 'Yamato,' the old word for Japan, so you don't really need to translate it as 'Big Japan.'

    大和魂 itself is a phrased used to refer to the Japanese nationalistic spirit and pride.

  2. ... but it has overtones that suggest "spirit" in the sense of the deceased.

  3. 魂 by itself means spirit, soul, etc. (i.e. in the sense of deceased), but in this phrase, it just refers to the yamato spirit, as in the spirit of a nation.

  4. "Spirit" in the sense of "deceased" is usually 霊, not 魂, at least in Japanese. I'm not sure about the nuance in Chinese.

  5. If one were to make a distinction between and 魂 in Chinese, then the former would be "spirit," while the latter is "soul," although more typically they're used together as a single term (靈魂), especially since 靈 by itself can also mean "something that works well."

    Since the radical for 魂 is (ghost) while the radical for 靈 is (rain), origin-wise, 魂 is more implicit of something being deceased.

  6. i have the same shirt!
    i got it at value village it was $3.99
    how much did you pay?
    thanks for the meaning

  7. I got the same one too, in Thailand. Think it cost me about $4.

  8. i found the website that specialize in T shirts and hoodies that those characters on them, and according to them, it means samuri spirit. it's a company that sells mix martial arts related clothing.