The 9 Most Popular Kanji Tattoos


When you’re taking Japanese lessons, you will be introduced to the three different writing systems: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Although kanji is generally considered the most difficult to learn, because of the symbols, it’s the most popular writing system among non-Japanese speakers.

Kanji consists of thousands of characters which were derived from the Chinese writing system. Because of the way they look, and the fact that they can convey a meaningful message in a limited amount of characters, kanji symbols are very popular in T-shirt designs and tattoos.

Kanji tattoos are common among celebrities like David Beckham and Justin Bieber. A-list stars, however, aren’t the only ones who have caught the kanji tattoo craze.

Here some of the most popular kanji tattoos.



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Live for Today

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More Popular Japanese Tattoos

Cherry Blossoms

cherry blossoms

Cherry blossoms hold a special significance in Japanese culture. They represent the beauty of life, and Japanese people look forward to the trees blooming each year.

Koi Fish

The Koi fish is part of Japanese and Chinese history and culture. In an ancient Japanese legend, a koi fish is transformed into a golden dragon. Because of this legend, koi fish are now associated with strength, perseverance, and power.

Family Names

Tattooing an individual’s name or a family member’s name in kanji characters is a huge trend among celebrities and everyday ink enthusiasts.

Avoid Kanji Tattoo Mishaps

Although kanji tattoos are extremely popular, it’s also a well-known fact that it’s easy to confuse the actual meaning behind the characters. There are countless stories of people with kanji tattoos, who don’t actually know what is inked on their body.

The best way to avoid a permanent mistake is to learn Japanese, or ask a Japanese-speaking friend to translate your tattoo design.

Want to learn more about kanji? Find a Japanese teacher near you!

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Photo by Kristin Andrus

2 replies
  1. Joyesi
    Joyesi says:

    Excellent article, very informative. Thank you sir!
    I Really Enjoyed Reading This tattoos designs !Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reflections

  2. Giobel
    Giobel says:

    I have added more informations about koi fish meaning chart
    1. Red “AKA” (red background) “HI” (red markings)

    2. Blue “Ai”

    3. Orange/Red “Beni” (orange/red background)

    4. Brown “Cha”

    5. Silver (Mettalic) “Gin”

    6. Gold (Mettalic) “KIN”

    7. “Karasu” (Black Background) “Sumi” (Black Markings)

    8. Yellow “Ki” (yellow) “Yamabuki” (pale yellow)

    9. Green “Midori”

    10. Grey “Nezu”/”Nezumi”

    11. Orange “Orenji”

    12 White “Shiro


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