Saturday, August 21, 2010

from: Dana H.
date: Tue, Aug 17, 2010 at 5:51 AM
subject: Tattoo Question

A girl I know from high school recently got this tattoo on her arm. She says it means "beautiful", but a friend of mine says that isn't so, and that is the Chinese character for beauty. The top part even looks like a series of triangle brackets, not like any Chinese character.

So what does this really mean?


means "calamity, disaster, catastrophe", and definitely not "beauty", which is .


  1. Oh goodness, I can't believe no one has commented on this one yet. So this high school girl decides to get a tattoo that reads "beautiful" in a language she does not understand, and the artist decides the right thing to do is to write "disaster" instead, and she has no idea... Was the artist playing a cruel trick on her? This fails on so many levels! Hope she is saving up her summer job money for the tattoo removal by laser. BTW, the three "brackets" at the top represent water, while the bottom part is fire. Flood and fire. Not beautiful but certainly a disaster...

  2. If you want to be sort of bad-ass-y, "災" might be a good choice. But mistaken it as 美? OMG it is an epic fail.

  3. Um, the client could do some research BEFORE getting the tattoo . . . .

  4. Who ever the tattoo artist was is a f#ckhead. What gave him the right to change what she originally wanted? No matter what the circumstances are. Yeah the girl should have done the research before she got the ink and now she will have to live with it but as a tattoo artist he/she should take a little responsibility as well. Maybe she should consider getting another character to change meaning to beautiful disaster?

  5. I'm sorry... I see this character and all I can think is 'KU KU KU' (A Japanese manga sound effect for laughter) over the kanji for 'fire'... *has been up waaaaay too long translating ヴァンパイア騎士 and is in shoujo manga mode. XP~)

    But yeah, that's NOT a 美 'bi' or 'mi' or 奇麗 'kirei' or anything close to 'beauty', lol.

    These poor, poor people. If they ever get to the countries they are so seemingly obsessed with, they will be automatically stigmatized as idiot foreigners. *shakes head*

    I got my Japanese character tatoo in Roppongi Hills, and I had taken the time to LEARN JAPANESE by the time I got it, and I'm glad I did because... I came THIS CLOSE to 'slave' instead of 'girlfriend' (it was a matching tatoo with my boyfriend at the time, now husband, and to be fair, I was 16 and stupid), from a local skeezy tatoo artist (Roppongi is filled with gaijin, and they WILL take advantage of you there if you aren't careful) who didn't care WHAT he put on my body.

  6. @ravyn-skye

    It's ironic that anyone with a serious interest in Japan would get any tattoo to be honest. Having one precludes you from participating in many quintessential elements of Japanese culture, including in many cases, finding employment.

    1. You can get a job as long as no one sees your tattoos. Look up unrested on YouTube. He lives in Osaka and works as an elementary school teacher and has full sleeves. :)
      But if you want to go to an onsen, yeah.. They might not let you in.

  7. 災 is my favorite kanji and I would absolutely get it unironically.