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The Meanings of Kanji Tattoos

06 Apr 2004 by Matthew Linderman

Kanji character tattoos may be all the rage but they often don’t mean what their wearers think they mean. With the assistance of a researcher at the Consulate General of Japan in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune examined the tattoos of five Chicagoans.

What he thinks his tattoo says: his first name [Timothy], translated into Japanese.
What it really means: The three symbols together would be pronounced “tak-ee-may,” so it doesn’t correspond precisely to Timothy. What the symbols mean in Japanese is sort of a mishmash, something along the lines of “unreliable delivery service” or “lost moving delivery.”


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