November 06, 2015


I have never been tempted to vandalize my body that way. (Of course, I've never vandalized anything else, either.)

But of course, one of the reasons each generation has strange fashions is in order to scandalize the prior generation, which is one of the reasons I had long hair when I was in my 20's. (Also, because it was strawberry blonde and looked really good.)

So in keeping with that principle, I'm always a bit scandalized when I see a tattoo on a pretty girl, like this one:



This one is particularly annoying because it doesn't mean anything. Bad enough that she's vandalizing herself, but she's doing it with nonsense. It's not proper Japanese, and I think it doesn't mean anything in Chinese either.

As best I can tell it's this:


Which isn't a proper word or sentence in Japanese.

无 is pronounced mu and means "nothing, naught".

使 is pronounced tsuka and it means "use" but it never appears in Japanese without a hiragana ending. (Such as 使い tsukai which means "user" among many other things.)

So if 无使 means anything at all, it would be "useless". Why would someone want that on their skin?

grumble dumb kids grumble

UPDATE: They say a sure sign that you're getting old is when you begin to obsess about the moral failings of the younger generation, and I passed that particular hurdle a long time ago.

UPDATE: I read the first kanji wrong. See comments.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Rants at 10:15 PM | Comments (7) | Add Comment
Post contains 245 words, total size 2 kb.

1 A few things.
1) You don't have to be old to be bothered by tattoos.  It's always ugly. 2) Tattoos on a Woman is a huge red flag.  If it's the "tramp stamp" variety, make adjustments accordingly. 3) It's a trend for a lot of very ugly reasons that has little to with rejecting the previous generation.  It mostly ties in with point #2, but I don't want to derail your post with a discussion of it.

Now, looking closely at the tattoo, I think you've misread the first character. It should be 天.  Which would render it as "天使", so "Tenshi".  It's supposed to be a tattoo for "angel".
But it is kind of badly written and would bother most Japanese.

Posted by: sqa at November 06, 2015 10:54 PM (97YUU)


I stand corrected. You're right about the first kanji.

It's still ugly.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 06, 2015 10:58 PM (+rSRq)

3 Honestly, I was just surprised not to see facial piercings. Once they start decorating desecrating, they usually don't stop with just one style. 

And, yeah, horribly-drawn kanji, by someone who owned a brush but had no idea how characters are formed. I've got a shovelware disc full of cheesy Japanese display fonts, and not even those managed to replace a single horizontal stroke with a pair of tentacles.

Although a proper tentacle-kanji font would be useful occasionally...


Posted by: J Greely at November 06, 2015 11:34 PM (ZlYZd)

4 I've found that, when I need to work out a Kanji, it's normally best to go with Stroke Count.  I've found this page pretty useful. If you can figure out the Stroke Count or the major Radical, you can work back most any kanij.  No matter how badly written.  (This has been important before)

Most of the trend, in piercings, has actually dialed back since the 90s.  The belly-button one seems to be the "in" thing.  When mixed with the side or shoulder tattoos, they're only visible in either beachwear or "really should be wearing more" party wear.  Which just goes to the signaling acting as intended.

Posted by: sqa at November 07, 2015 01:32 AM (97YUU)


I've been using a program called "JWPCE" to identify kanji, and yes, it does support stroke count. There's also a mechanism for doing that at Nihongodict (click "Kanji Lookup").

I have been using stroke count for years.

Stroke count wouldn't have saved me this time. Both the right kanji and the wrong one I found were 4 strokes.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at November 07, 2015 08:08 AM (+rSRq)

6 Once upon a time at the Duck U Bookstore, I asked a very pretty girl why she had gotten so heavily inked... I mean, she was working on a full sleeve, plus many others.  Her response was "I want to personalize my body."

Which was probably the stupidest thing I've ever heard.  It's your body, it's already "personalized".

I wanted to scream at her.  Instead I thanked her for answering and gave her her change.  Then I went back into my office and wept for the future of the world.

Posted by: Wonderduck at November 07, 2015 08:35 AM (a12rG)

7 This post needs a mention of Stephen Lynch's "Tattoo" song (which is nsfw, an available several places on youtube).  It does have a verse about bad Kanji/Hanzi tattoos.

Posted by: Mikeski at November 07, 2015 07:11 PM (hAtXl)

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