Between 5,000 and 10,000 characters, or kanji, are used in written Japanese. In 1981 the Japanese government introduced the jōyō kanji hyō or the “List of Chinese Characters for General Use”, which includes 1,945 regular characters, plus additional characters used for people’s names ( jinmeiyô-kanji).
Newpapers and other media and publications use mainly jōyō kanji and provide furigana (reading in kana) for non-jōyō kanji. Japanese children are expected to know all of the jōyō kanji by the end of high school.
When the Japanese adopted Chinese characters to write their language they also borrowed many Chinese words. Today about half the vocabulary of Japanese comes from Chinese and Japanese kanji are used to represent both Sino-Japanese words and native Japanese words with the same meaning.
Before you decide to commit a letter or word or phrase, make sure you are completely confident of the meaning of the symbol. Get confirmation from someone that is familiar with the language. Do not just take the word of one authority with something this serious.
Your research should not be too difficult. You could start at the tattoo parlor of your choice. Look through their flash, find your symbol and then make a copy. Go to the internet, possibly a forum and get a human to confirm and possibly a site with a good reputation. If you see the same meaning in multiple areas and sites, you can feel confident you have the correct meaning.
You may have to understand that there is often not an exact translation when it comes to Kanji. This is more related to concepts, feelings and emotions – and these are very popular for Kanji choices. Some of the popular ones are love, devotion, and family.
If you are lucky to meet someone who can translate, it would be worth asking their opinion and ask them about the culture and they may possibly give you an idea for a completely different symbol or design. Keep your mind open to possibilities.
Kanji Related Sites