Innocent idea doesn’t go anywhere close to how she expected.
When choosing a design for a tattoo, most people want something that’s not just cool or beautiful, but meaningful as well. And since you’re going to have the thing forever, an aesthetic that’s already stood the test of time is preferable to some trendy symbol that might feel played out in a few months’ time.
Put all those criteria together, and there’s definitely a certain logic to people choosing Japanese kanji characters for their tattoos, even if they themselves don’t speak the language. However, there’s a danger to having people put words on your body without a sufficient background in the language, since what they actually mean might not match up with the message you’re trying to send.
For example, Japanese Twitter user @ToraiKun spent part of his student days studying at a university in the U.S. One day a Caucasian classmate was showing him her kanji tattoo, and @ToraiKun was startled to see that the character she’d chosen was this.
Apparently she wanted to double-check that it meant what she thought it did, so she asked @ToraiKun if he could translate it for her, and he easily could, because it’s a pretty simple translation. It means “evil.”
Now, that tattoo might make sense if @ToraiKun’s classmate had been going through a goth phase or experimenting with other forms of edgy self-impression. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and she’d had innocent intentions…literally. “They told me it meant ‘innocent!’” the crestfallen woman said.