Sunday, December 31, 2006
However, his choice of characters was not the best, and his tattoo proudly indicating to everyone that he menstruates regularly.
Today while browsing through the tattoo gallery, another young man is boasting his own (Dec. 4, 2006).
止女流 means "stop woman flow".
Is this some type of viral advertisement for feminine hygiene products? Perhaps I should forward it to my good friend, Steve Hall, at Adrants.com.
Saturday, December 30, 2006
For those who are interested, here are the details:
SEEKING TATTOOED PARTICIPANTS
We are looking for individuals who may have had incorrectly translated (or applied) Chinese calligraphy tattoos for our upcoming book Permanence: Tattoo Portraits by Kip Fulbeck to be published by Chronicle Books in 2008.
If you are in the Southern CA area and are interested in being photographed for the book please email to
Anyone with interesting or unusual (by subject, style, or just plain bad) tattoo work is also welcome to contact us. Please note: We have PLENTY of tribal, Japanese sleeves, lower back butterflies, kanji, mid-scapula crosses, and mother's names already.
Friday, December 29, 2006
During the show, an American businessman was quoted "I was told the only Japanese I needed to know was 百万台, which meant 1,000,000 units." At the same time, CNBC showed 百万台 on the television screen with last two characters upside down.
video: 917 KB Windows Media (thanks to Yang Zongbao)
Saturday, November 18, 2006
video: 16 MB Windows Media, mirror
In the show, a young lady wanted a “Japanese sign of Happiness or Inner Peace”, but what she and her friend downloaded from the internet was incorrect.
Chris Nunez then chimes in: “I think the single biggest crime is that there are so many tattoos on people either totally fake or doesn’t mean what they are looking for.” He then went on about how great it is to have Yojiro "Yoji" Harada in the shop to keep a watchful eye on fraudulent Kanji clients bring in.
Here is a screen shot of Kanji book in Miami Ink, and how come Yoji never spotted this?
時 by itself alone is not “stylish”, it means “time, season; era, age, period”.
Wednesday, November 8, 2006
* The original photo can be found in BMEzine.com *
Chuck posted a photo of his tattoos in BMEzine's gallery on Nov. 6.
My Daughters Name In Chinesse
(Dragon Done By Ron At Stormi Steele; Lettering Done By Scott, Stormi Steele, Kingston, Pa)
It looks like Chuck got suckered into believing English alphabet can be translated directly into Chinese characters. Or, perhaps his daughter's name is really 女康流, which means "woman healthy flow".
Saturday, November 4, 2006
These three photos were posted in BMEzine's Kanji tattoo gallery on Oct. 30, 2006, with the caption of:
It Means "Eternity". Muster Said. I Don't Know Exactly, But Any Way. Whatever.
(by Sheremetyev, Golden Dragon, Omsk, Russia)
Since all three of the photos had date stamp on them and they appeared correctly, it was clear that the character been tattooed was mirrored. Also, the character 選 does not mean "eternity", it means "[to] choose" or "select".
Tuesday, October 31, 2006
The story is about people's regrets of their own tattoos. Of course with that, yours truly was mentioned.
I laughed so hard when I read the part where Ms. Brook referred me as:
Hanzi Vigilante Blogger
I am thinking about making some business cards with that title.
On the other hand, the term "vigilante blogger" makes me feel like the character with dual personalities of Edward Norton and Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Or, Jan and Peter in The Edukators (Die fetten Jahre sind vorbei).
The original Vancouver Sun's story is here, here is a pdf copy of it, and for those who are too lazy to read, mp3 version of the article are also available here and here.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
The two characters 摸 and 疵 are pronounced as "mo" and "ci" in Chinese. Perhaps that is where he or the tattooist got the correlation to "M" and "C".
However, the second character is missing a small vertical stroke. Ironically, the literal translation of the two characters is "caressing flaw".
Sunday, October 15, 2006
The first one I got is from Andy Scott and his “This is a Tattoo” tattoo:
I just stumbled onto your site and I want to say that hanzismatter.com is fantastic.
I've been living in China now for just over two years, whilst my speaking and listening isn't too bad, I cannot read or write more than a few characters. I too got a tattoo here in China, but luckily I have a endless resource here to make sure the words are correct. I attached it here.
It should say 'Zhe Shi Wen Shen' or 'This is a tattoo.' I get a lot of enjoyment creating a different meaning every time someone asks what it translates to. I haven't seen any English tattoo's here, but some of the phrases that are on clothing, menu's and other signs are just as amusing as some of the ones you have written about.
I'm sure there is some poor Chinese person out there with some poorly transcribed words inked onto their skin too. But, it's great that you are shedding light to the fact that language mistakes are made all over the world, not just in English. Though it's good for a laugh.
The second one is from Mark Pulver, and he got "Fish Ball Soup" tattooed on his leg:
I thought you'd get a kick out of the story of a tat on my leg...
My other half and I have always found sites like engrish.com interesting, and especially Hanzi Smatter - we love seeing the mistakes you point out.
"What do you mean it says "Beef & Broccoli?? It's supposed to be Love & Happiness!"
We decided to invert the process... We figured that we would _actually_ get "beef & broccoli" inked, and then just tell people that it says "love & happiness". In the end, 99% of our friends and the people we meet would never know the difference, and we'd have a fun story to tell to those who tell us "ummm, did you know that..."
Yeah, we're goofy that way.
Since we were actually looking for beef & broccoli we went searching for Asian menus online - we figured that would be a good source for a valid translation. In the process we found http://mrhowontonhouse.com/ which offered up a LOT more than just B&B!
Now, being the head goofball, I noticed "fish ball soup" and glommed onto it REAL quick. On top of it, I came up with a back-story where I would tell people that the characters represent the last line of an old story that talks about love, happiness, relationships, children, all the things that have been held important for thousands of years by the Asian cultures. :)
With the symbols and a story in hand, I asked a friend of a friend of mine at work to verify the translation. He did and also re-wrote the characters to be clearer. I made a phone call to my tat guy and I was off to the ink shop. The end result is here:
I understand that the last character is loosely translated as "broth only" - I have an alternate writing where the last character is "with noodles" as well. :)
It's all in good fun... we don't mean anything rude or insulting by it, it's more about having fun with a poke back to the people that _don't_ do the research before they get tattoo's.
Keep up the fun!
"The Fish Ball Soup" guy
Saturday, October 7, 2006
My friend Alan Siegrist writes:
Just browsing bmezine’s kanji tattoo web pages can be entertaining indeed. I just noticed an astonishingly stupid Japanese tattoo:
It is supposed to be キンバリー, which is a reasonable Japanese equivalent of the name “Kimberly” but the stupid tattooist did it upside down!
And, since the text is vertical, the final ー should be oriented vertically instead of horizontally.
Kim should get her money back…
Thanks for your good work as always,
Friday, September 29, 2006
Different Typs Of Tattoos
This Is Kanji With Stars And A Green Filler
(by Brandon Eardman, Tribal Expressions Tattoo & Body Piercing, 107 Highland rd Pauls Valley OK 73075)
To compare this person’s work with crayon doodling done by retarded children at local Applebee's restaurants would be an insult to the mentally challenged.
The new recruit claimed that his tattoo means “Daisy” in Chinese.
I tried my best to decipher it, and then I realized the “characters” are just English alphabets that made to mimic the “Chinese-look”. Here are some similar fonts.
Apparently Mr. “Daisy” is not the only person that got fooled by this font type, here are two more:
Saturday, September 23, 2006
The label was made as a prop for the popular science fiction television show Serenity/Firefly. It was never used in the show, which is probably would be a good thing, since some of the printed Chinese characters are mirrored.
"A peach tin label made for the sci-fi adventure Serenity. This prop made label has “Peach Halves” printed on it in English and Chinese and a picture of peaches. It was made to be used on the tins in the store room but was never actually used. The label can be stuck onto a tin by peeling the backing off. It measures 33cm x 15cm (13" x 6")."
有营养的食品 just above “Peach Halves” means “[has/have] nutritious food”. Below “Delicious, Sweet Ripe Taste”, the mirrored phrase is supposed to be “小精灵的酒吧”, which means “little goblin’s bar”, and 善服务团 which is a machine translated meaning for “good service group”.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Especially item number 270025981666, “Boutique Clovergirls BDB Costume Geisha Kimono Japanese”. (thanks to "Furisode Fan" for the tip)
Luckily, the actual photos are located at vintageduck.com as well as eBay.com, and it is not copyrights infringement by directly linking to there.
(more photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)
* I have decided to repost the image from eBay after contacting Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org) about my blogger's rights. I am free to post the photo since I am only using the image to illustrate my point, the image size has been reduced from its original, and it was posted on eBay, thus it does not hold the same copyrights as commerical photos.
Look, they even have some Japanese characters accompanying all the photos.
血栓治療薬 means “anti-blood clot medication”.
The clever seller has simply lifted some Japanese characters from medicine bottles and pasted them over the photo to give them the “authentic” feel.
Ps. Dear firstname.lastname@example.org,
Since you like to censor other people's websites so much, why not write to this website and defend Lindsay Lohan's flashing vagina?
Oh my, how embarrassing.
Sweetheart, before you splash together another photo of your latest creation, how about do a little research?
Monday, September 11, 2006
大麻 is Simplified Chinese for “Cannabis Sativa”, also known as “marijuana”, “pot”, “chronic”, “weed”, “grass”, “ganja”, “420”, “blunt” (not James Blunt), “dope”, “reefer”, “mary jane” or “mj”, “cheeba”.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
With Alan’s help, I have compiled this following chart:
Obviously the characters themselves might be correct and have meanings in both Chinese and Japanese.
However, the characters have nothing to do with the English alphabet, yet many tattoo shops consider this template as a valid translation tool, and using it to translate English names and words into Chinese and Japanese.
Alan has also mentioned:
"There are no equivalents for the letters V and W. 充 This looks like the right side of 流, but 充 is the closest full character I can find. 戈 This looks like the radical in the top-right of 武. 辶 This looks like the radical in the bottom-left of 道. * The character for "Y" is a mystery, looking something like 米米産 as one character.
If you look carefully, you will note a pattern of where the partial radicals come from:
安(C) = 宀(D) + 女(A)
武(G) = 戈(I) + 止(H)
道(N) = 辶(O) + 首(P)
流(R) = 氵(T) + 充(S) "
We have also found an actual website that is still currently selling this gibberish "Asian font" along with some other designs for $64.99.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
This photo was submitted to BMEzine.com's gallery in August 28th accompanied with the following caption:
"lettering that was suppose to say Jason"
(by Doc, A & B Productions, Brown City, Michigan)
Another sucker of the downloadable gibberish “Asian font”.
Saturday, August 26, 2006
The top character 太 means “very, too, much; big; extreme”, and the bottom one 屁 means “break wind; fart; buttocks”.
In Chinese slang, especially in internet lingo, 太屁 means “lame” or "pathetic".
Update: August 27, 2006 - According to the original website, the tattoo is supposed to be "fat ass".
If that is true, the top character should be 大, not 太.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
I assume the last character is 幸, which means "fortunate" or "lucky".
Notice his username "Lord Chino"? I am unsure about if he is referring to
1. Trousers made from coarse twilled cotton fabric
2. Spanish word for Chinese
Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Videos: 4.12 MB Divx, 2.39 MB Windows Media, and mirror
This is after the Daily Show aired a clip showing Condoleezza Rice tried to use a Chinese phrase 危機 to describe American's war in Iraq (or terrorism in general?) during a news conference in August 6, 2006.
By the way, the term Condoleezza Rice used does not actually mean "danger+opportunity=crisis". My good friend Mark Swofford at Pinyin.info has posted an essay by Victor H. Mair on this misperception.
The character 猪 on Condoleezza's shoulder means "pig".
Update: August 9, 2006 - After receiving two emails from readers that felt the need to share their inside knowledge about The Daily Show with everyone, I just want to point out for those who hasn’t already know, The Daily Show is produced by Comedy Central, and it is a satirical television program.
The show is hosted by “the most trusted name in fake news” Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, also known as Jon Stewart.
Another headline from the Gullible Readers’ Digest: Is Ali G, Borat Sagdiyev, Bruno, and Sacha Baron Cohen the same person?
Say it ain’t so!
Monday, August 7, 2006
Besides the rectangular tidbit at lower right corner of the page about “Polish grannies making skimpy, see-through women’s thong using traditional crochet patterns”, I thought the parts about tattooist 6ix Acheson (yes, that is his name “6ix” with a number in it) and Dr. Gerald Boey were very good:
“[6ix] Acheson thinks accuracy is a responsibility shared equally by client and artist. ‘Even if the client comes in carrying a drawing, they shouldn’t just blast it on.’”Thanks Nancy!
“‘Unfortunately, it’s a buyer-beware market,’ cautions Dr. Gerald Boey of Vancouver’s Arbutus Laser Centre, a specialist in laser removal, noting that about 20 percent of those with tattoos are considering removal.”
Friday, August 4, 2006
For someone that is not familiar with Chinese or Japanese, one might think the characters are actual translations of “home”, “menu”, “general info”, and so on.
These are random characters that are there to give the website an “Asian” feel. Especially when 澄 is used for both “home”, “décor”, 欽 for “general info” and “reservations”.
Recently in Phoenix New Times, Stephen Lemons wrote this about another Scottsdale restaurant called Ippei Japanese Bistro:
“Ippei general manager Justin Cohen would not allow any photos of his restaurant's food. His lack of confidence is telling… Ippei aims to be destination dining, but it is not there yet. As of now, I'd rather do the five or six hours via car to L.A. But if you're in Ippei's vicinity, you could do worse. After all, both McGrath's Fish House and the White Chocolate Grill share the same complex.”Ouch.
I was about to post this, then I got an email from Igor with this photo of a Japanese restaurant he visited.
What are those characters in the left plaque? It could be due to poor lighting, but doesn’t the chef appears to be more Hispanic than Japanese?
Domo Arigato, Senor Avocado San.
P.s. Do not even get me started on the establishment known as P. F. Chang’s.
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
video: 3.35 MB windows media or YouTube
“…Let me get this straight, you got a tattoo in jail from a guy that has failed English and Spanish, but now he knows Chinese, is that what you telling me?Having a tattooist who can't even spell words in English correctly to do your tattoo in another language would be a problem... It does sound like that person I recently got those angry comments from...
You have 26 letters in English and Spanish kicked his ass, but 1,300 characters in the Chinese language…
Are you retarded?! I can’t wait till this guy ends up in Chinatown and some Chinese guy goes: ‘oh, that is a beautiful tattoo, so you love to suck *bleep*…”
Monday, July 31, 2006
This is a freshly done arm band tattoo shown in BMEzine’s gallery (July 31, 2006) by James “Devilboy” Robinson of F.I.S.T. Ink in North Carolina (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK). The six-character set supposedly to be “Duty Honor Courage”.
The first two characters 迪蒂 are not even close to “duty”, unless the client is a dedicated gardener.
迪 means “enlighten, advance; progress” and 蒂 is “peduncle or stem of plants”.
Perhaps, they were some kind of “wicked” phonetic translation from English to Chinese or Japanese? But, why?
荣誉 do mean “honor”, except 誉 is missing a stroke.
The last two 勇气 are “courage” or “bravery” and they are correct.
A quick browse of James “Devilboy” Robinson’s MySpace page (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK), from metal fabrication to graphix (his spelling) design, it seems he is a very talented person. Although, no where it was mentioned on his page if he has ever studied Chinese or Japanese.
Oh right, tattooists are “artists”, and they are not linguists.
Update: August 1, 2006 - James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) has sent me the following angry comment and instant messages:
Update: Aug. 2, 2006 – I have forwarded my experience with James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) to my good friends Shannon Larratt and Marisa DiMattia, hoping not all tattooists are like him and it was an isolated incident.
Shannon Larratt is the man behind the largest body modification website in the world called Body Modification Ezine (www.bmezine.com), where some of James Robinson’s (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) pieces were originally posted.
Shannon, Marisa, and I regularly exchange tips and emails regarding the tattoo trend. Some of our postings have cross-linked in each other’s websites.
“That email is hilarious. But it's a pretty typical response. Tattoo artists can be a little like Klingons. :) PS. Marisa will love that you forwarded this to her too -- I was just about to when I saw you had included her. She just had a very similar run-in...”Marisa replied to me with:
“It's true that tattoo artists should not be responsible for characters that are not native to them. That said, if he really cared about reputation, he would not have Chinese flash representing his work. I don't want to see what the rest of his portfolio looks like.”Marisa DiMattia is a New York attorney by occupation. In her spare time, she manages Needled.com and writes a legal column for BMEzine.com. Recently, Marisa had a run-in with Joseph Smith of Big Brains Productions in Omaha, Nebraska, after she confronted him about theft of work done by someone else.
Referring to James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) as a “tattoo artist” is giving a bad name to all other respectable tattooists in the profession. In my opinion (after his email and instant messages), he is nothing but a man who can hold up a mechanical needle, dipping in ink, and trace color lines on gullible clients’ skin. That is no different from developmentally challenged students to trace color lines in special education classes.
And I am sure those students would have more humanity in them than James Robinson (not the James Robinson of Nine in Brighton, UK) ever would.
Update: Oct. 21, 2009
date: Wed, Oct 21, 2009 at 5:35 AM
subject: Duty Honour Courage - Hanzi Smatter
I'm writing to you in good faith in reference to:
One of my tattooist colleagues is also called James Robinson and we are concerned that the general public may link the individual to whom you are referring, to James Robinson of Nine, Brighton, UK. I myself did a google search and fell upon this page and was quite taken aback as what you were describing fitted in no way with the James Robinson I know and work with. It was only upon reading right down the page that I found the information to which James Robinson you were referring to.
If anyone does a Google search on his name, the following is on the first page of the search:
Hanzi Smatter 一知半解: Duty Honor Courage
Referring to James Robinson as a “tattoo artist” is giving a bad name to all other respectable tattooists in the profession. In my opinion (after his email ...
I am sure you can agree that this is defamatory to James Robinson of Nine and request you specify which James Robinson you are referring to to make it clear.
I trust you can update your page changing all the James Robinson's you list as James "Devilboy' Robinson of F.I.S.T. Ink in North Carolina to make it clear to anyone perusing your page that this James Robinson has nothing whatsoever to do with James Robinson of Nine, Brighton, UK.
I run an incredibly well respected and tight ship here and do not wish any damage upon the reputation of my studio or any of the tattooists working within it.
I look forward to hearing from you about this matter.
9 Boyces Street
Sunday, July 30, 2006
The movie is written and directed by a Chinese person, dialogue is in Mandarin Chinese, and the storyline is about a Chinese person, yet ironcally the characters in the movie's trailer are gibberish.
These are two screen shots Mark has captured from the movie's trailer to show just how ridiculous they are:
Just below COMING SOON is a giant ㄍ. Along the right side of the screen is the following, in zhuyin fuhao: ㄇㄞㄒㄖㄘ. This, in Hanyu Pinyin, would be “maixrici,” which is complete gibberish. The other vertical lines of text are also nonsense in zhuyin fuhao. Again, there’s nothing wrong with how these are written. It’s just that they’re no more meaningful than a random string of letters. (more)
The zhuyin fuhao on the left read, from top to bottom, ㄔㄐㄎㄊㄆ, which would be “chjktp” in Hanyu Pinyin. As I think should be obvious even to those who don’t know Mandarin or any other Sinitic language, this is simply nonsense. (more)
Hopefully the actual movie would be better than the trailer, unlike the last movie I saw Lady in the Water by M. Night Shyamalan which really sucked scrunt's balls.
Thursday, July 27, 2006
Two of my earlier postings (one & two) have already talked about some people would download this so called "Asian Font" from the internet and tattoo themselves with gibberish.
If you have not seen Clerks II, Shannon Larratt had a brief role in the movie. He was the "Ear Guy" in Mooby's.
Sunday, July 23, 2006
名言 means "wise words" or "famous saying" and 最初 is "beginning" or "initial".
Obviously this person has never heard of the wise words from Dr. Gregory House, Seth MacFarlane, Red vs. Blue, Fox News (it is a bit strange to see "Fox News" associated with "wise words"), and Bill Maher.
Despite the incorrectly written characters, 伊勢 or 伊勢囯 is a province in Japan. 戦国 or 戦国時代 is referring to Japan’s Warring State Period which is roughly from mid 15th to early 17th century. 戦国村 could either be a village or a compound from the Warring State Period.For those who are not familiar with Japanese history or read the five characters on the parasol as Chinese, 伊勢戦国村 might mean something like “Iraqi/Iranian warring/conflicting village”.
The reason why it might mean either “Iraqi” or “Iranian” is because both terms were phonetically translated into Chinese and often abbreviated using just the first character. 伊拉克 is “Iraq” and 伊朗 for “Iran”.
Wednesday, July 19, 2006
audio: clip 517 KB mp3 or entire show22.5 MB mp3
I use Macromedia Fireworks (now Adobe Fireworks) for most of the graphics work, and Sony Vegas 6.0 for audio and video editing work.
The character in Computer Zen's logo is 善, typically "zen" is referring to 禅.
Monday, July 17, 2006
video: windows media 3.95 MB or mirror
Dr. Roger Spain (First Applicant): Wow, I thought you'd be the last person to have a problem with nonconformity.
Dr. Gregory House: Nonconformity; right... I can't remember the last time saw a twenty something kid with a tattoo of an Asian letter on his wrist. You are one wicked free thinker! You want to be a rebel; stop being cool. Wear a pocket protector like he does, and get a hair cut. Like the Asian kids that don't leave the library for a twenty hours stretch. They're the ones that don't care what you think.
Dr. Gregory House: Sayonara
Many places including tattoo shops advertise 和 as "harmony, peace; peaceful, calm". In modern day Chinese, it