September 16, 2021

18+ Japanese Tattoo Phrases for Your Next Tat

Looking for some interesting Japanese tattoo phrases for yourself?

Then you’d want some phrases with interesting meanings.

With this guide, you can get something that Japanese people know and understand. Phrases that weren’t awkwardly translated from English to Japanese. What kind phrases are these “Japanese tattoo phrases” exactly? They’re native Japanese proverbs and idioms. That have interesting meanings. That Japanese understand.

So, take a look.

1. 一心 (One heart)

  • Pronunciation: Isshin

This phrase is written with the kanji character for one (一) and heart (心). It can mean people’s hearts coming together as one or an intense determination where you put in your whole heart. It can be a nice tattoo to keep your motivation and to work together with others.

japanese tattoo phrases

2. 篠突く雨 (Pouring rain)

  • Pronunciation: Shinotsuku ame

The Japanese language has many ways to describe rain. This one is particularly beautiful because it compares the sound of the rain to falling bamboo. 

japanese tattoo phrases

3. 伏竜鳳雛 (Hidden talent)

  • Pronunciation: Fukuryou housuu

If you feel that you still haven’t been recognized for your talents, this is the perfect phrase. Fukuryou housuu is a phrase that represents a dragon buried in the ground. It means that your potential and talent has yet to be discovered.

japanese tattoo phrases

4. 夢なき者に成功なし (Those who don’t dream won’t have success)

  • Pronunciation: Yumenaki mono ni seikou nashi

This is a phrase by Yoshida Shooin, one of the most important intellectuals of the Tokugawa shogunate. Even if it feels like aspirations don’t come true, it’s important to remember to keep dreaming.

japanese tattoo phrases

5. 不撓不屈 (Don’t give up)

  • Pronunciation: Futou fukutsu

This phrase can give you some extra motivation to keep going. It means that even if you’re experiencing hardship you should never give up on what you’re doing.

japanese tattoo phrases

6. 正正堂堂 (Strong confidence)

  • Pronunciation: Seisei doudou

Seisei uses two kanji characters 正(sei) meaning “correct”.  This is a cool phrase that means that you’re going into something headfirst. It also has a connotation of having strong character and morality. If you’re going into a battle, you would use this phrase to mean that you’re going to fight fairly with confidence.

japanese tattoo phrases

7. 唯一無二 (Only one in the world)

  • Pronunciation: Yui itsu muni

This is a phrase that can help you remember that you’re the only one in the world. Appreciating your own uniqueness can be important. The phrase means that there is only one and nothing else can compare to it.

japanese tattoo phrases

8. 一球入魂 (Throwing the ball one at a time)

  • Pronunciation: Ikkyuu nyuukon

Baseball is important to Japanese people and this phrase uses the sport as a metaphor. It means that you should focus your energy into each throw and use everything that you have. You can apply it to life by making sure not to take shortcuts and use your focus on one thing at a time.

japanese tattoo phrases

9. 身を捨てても名利は捨てず (Even if your life is threatened, never lose your honor)

  • Pronunciation: Mi o sutete mo myoori wa sutezu

This is a quote by Musashi Miyamoto, who was a famous swordsman and ronin in the 16-17th centuries. It means that even after death your name remains. More than life, it’s better to focus on what you can leave behind as your legacy. 

japanese tattoo phrases

10. 前え (Go forward)

  • Pronunciation: Mae e

Chuuji Kitajima, a Japanese rugby coach, famously repeated these words. Kitajima was fundamental to developing rugby in Japan, and he was one of the first coaches of the national team. Mae e simply means to go forward but it can be a reminder to not look back. Things that have happened in the past are not able to be changed. 

japanese tattoo phrases

11. 自分自身でおありなさい。(Be yourself)

  • Pronunciation: Jibun jishin de oari nasai

This is a quote by Chuuya Nakahara, a poet during the Showa period. He wrote over 300 poems which were based on his struggles and grief throughout his life. This is a quote that is for those who feel like they don’t feel confident in being who they are. It’s important to always be true to yourself.

japanese tattoo phrases

12. 理路整然 (Sensible thinking and speaking)

  • Pronunciation: Riro seizen

If you find that having clear thoughts and speaking eloquently are important, this is the perfect phrase. Riro seizen means that your speaking and thinking are backed up by clear logic. 

japanese tattoo phrases

13. 用意周到 (Be ready)

  • Pronunciation: Youi shuutou

This phrase means that you have everything ready and prepared. Your preparations are immaculate and you have no details that are missed. 

japanese tattoo phrases

14. 十人十色 (Ten people, ten colors)

  • Pronunciation: Juunin toiro

Everyone in the world has a slightly different view and personality. This phrase puts this idea beautifully into four kanji characters. The differences between people can be expressed as different shades of color. Next time you’re disagreeing with someone, remember that everyone has their own color.

japanese tattoo phrases

15. 七転八起 (Always bring yourself up)

  • Pronunciation: Shichiten hakki

This phrase literally means “seven falls, eight ups”. Even if you experience setbacks, it’s important to keep pushing through it. Eventually, the last push is what’s going to get past those setbacks. No matter how many times you fall, always bring yourself up.

japanese tattoo phrases

16. 天真爛漫 (Pure at heart)

  • Pronunciation: Tenshin ranman

Tenshin ranman, means that you have a pure heart and you’re staying true to yourself. When we grow up, we often become influenced by the outside world. This phrase helps you remember your pure childhood innocence and being who you are. 

japanese tattoo phrases

17. 大同少異 (Look at the bigger picture)

  • Pronunciation: Daitou shoui

If you have a tendency to get caught up in details, this is a great phrase. It means that when you look at something from far away, it’s the same. The details aren’t as important as the bigger picture. It’s sometimes good to take a step back and look at things from a different perspective.

japanese tattoo phrases

18. 日進月歩 (Fast improvement)

  • Pronunciation: Nisshin geppo

This phrase means that you’re progressing at an intense speed that doesn’t seem to slow down. The kanji characters means that you move forward by day but your stride has increased by a month. If you’re hoping to improve on something, this could be a great tattoo for good luck.

japanese tattoo phrases

Now, Back to You…

Now you know a whole bunch of Japanese tattoo phrases.

Which was your favorite? Are there any other phrases that you’re looking for?

Leave a comment.

For more Japanese tattoo phrases, check out my other article here: Japanese Tattoo Phrases.

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