Good tattoo kanji for Drawing

I want to get a kanji tattooed on my wrist, which just encapsulate the concept creating of art. I found 絵 hit the mark pretty well, but I just want to make sure I really get it right, as I know kanji can be hard to translate exactly out of context.

Any feedback?

It’s kind of tough with just one kanji…

I think 絵, which literally just means “a drawing” or “a picture” when alone as a word, would be a little bland unless the actual design was inventive. Something like 美 (beauty) would be a more typical single-kanji option.

Have you considered a yojijukugo (4-character idiomatic compound)? I know that’s a lot more kanji, but they are established words in a structure that Japanese people would recognize and appreciate.

Some related to art…

詩人墨客 (しじんぼっかく) poets and artists; persons who take delight in such refined pursuits as poetry, literature, painting, and calligraphy
創作意欲 (そうさくいよく) will (urge) to create; creative urge; appetite for writing
花鳥風月 (かちょうふうげつ) the beauties of nature; artistic pursuits involving nature themes

Or you could just browse more yojijukugo options.

If you got familiar enough with how yojijukugo are structured, you could theoretically try to put one together yourself.

I’m not ruling out a single kanji being a good option, I just can’t think of one myself.


What about 術?

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It does mean “art” in one sense, but it’s more like the meaning of art that is equivalent to “skill” or “technique.” It doesn’t really mean “art” as in a “created work of art.”

I’m sure someone might want it as a tattoo.


In a similar vein to what @Leebo has said already, you definitely want to be careful with single kanji tattoos. As with 絵, many kanji can be words you themselves and will therefore lose a lot of nuance/artistic implications right off the bat.

I won’t add too much more, in an effort not to echo what’s already been said, but here’s a video I saw a while back and found pretty interesting that covers what Japanese people think about various kanji tattoos.




Tips for when you want to take kanji tattoos:



Yeah, if you ever feel the urge to take someone’s tattoo, I would just recommend getting your own. Getting your own ink will be easier than a skin graft. :slight_smile:


I like bad jokes but not this bad :smile:


Okay, it’s pretty satisfying to be able to read that. Thanks Crabigator… :sunglasses:




Yes. Just… YES


If I recall correctly, this guy thought it meant “God Almighty” when he got it, hahaha

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Maybe you should research Japanese art a little bit and see if there are any concepts that really stand out to you.

I don’t know what a Japanese person would think of a tattoo that says 絵 but I agree with @Leebo’s comment.
But I think if 絵 is what you really want then it’s your business.

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I confess I’m a little perplexed. Would you get the English word “Drawing” tattooed on you?


I think that would be my first reaction when seeing a 絵 tattoo . Like maybe it’s some kind of meta-joke ? Like getting a tattoo of the word “picture” or “word” ?

What do you think of 芸 ? Maybe it’s a bit more abstract than 術 and closer to “art” ?

I don’t entirely disagree with this, but this argument (“Would you get [x word] tattooed in English?”) always comes up in discussions about kanji tattoos and I don’t really know if you can really equate them.
The reason I wonder is because Chinese and Japanese calligraphy. An English speaking calligrapher doesn’t usually write a single word; they use the skill for things like writing certificates. But in Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, you can write a word as art. So is getting a word tattooed in English the same as getting it tattooed in kanji?
Since I’m not Chinese or Japanese nor have I studied calligraphy, idk!


Thanks for all the responses! Definitely a mix of opinions.
My intention with this tattoo was to combine two passions of mine really, which is languages and art, I know it might be a bit naive to get something tattooed in a language I don’t know very well yet, which is why I posted this to inquire :relaxed:

This has definitely given me more to think about, if anyone has any other inputs I am more than grateful!


Or just make a list of your hobbies down one arm. :stuck_out_tongue:

Maybe 浮世絵, then you can tell people it means “pictures of the floating world”. :slightly_smiling_face:


Well wouldn’t be even close to stupidest idea I’ve seen.

Tattoos are personal, so anyone can have any reason for anything, even baka gaijin.

However, it’s good to do study on it so you don’t end up with “nine rings”. So that’s why GasaiYuno came here to ask, and it’s good that some people already gave good ideas. I don’t get why some people try to be judgmental though. As long as there’s nothing criminal and all parties involved are consent, go for it. I don’t go some online gay forums telling people that each time I take up the a, it hurts so all of you should also stop doing that. I mean, that would be pretty hilarious as an experiment. Maybe tonight after couple beers (and I mean the online forums parts, not the taking up -part)