Let's decipher stylized kanji!

so it is something about japan being far away and meeting again…

With all due respect to you and your friend, that’s calligraphy, written using Japanese vertical kana-linking conventions to boot. Everyday handwriting usually doesn’t look like that. That aside, I have a feeling it’s in Classical Japanese. The tapestry (or embroidery?) you posted seems to be closer to what one might see on an everyday basis. (I’ll get back to the calligraphy piece in a moment and deal with the tapestry first.)

Top right should be 高名美人六家撰, as far as I can tell. Bottom left starts with 哥麻吕, if I’m not wrong, but I can’t read the rest because I have no idea what it means, so I can’t break it down.


she apparently wrote a translation but he hasn’t given it to me yet so i’ll post it when he does.

My gut says “The soil of Japan is far away, but it is also near. God (something something), wait until we meet again.”


that’s good to know…because like I said I didn’t have a clue…still working on wani kani font.


i knew it was from the edo period!

what, still?

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ok so her written translation was
"Land of Japan seems very far away but it is not really as far as we think so i pray that we will meet again… kyoko


Oh right, 祈 is the kanji I couldn’t make out.


very impressive…thank you

sorry still what…wanikani font? Yes…a bit of a crutch…but reading more is helping with that…I didn’t realize how stuck you get on a certain font until I started to read other things…

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so when Belthazar sent the normal font I could understand but even now knowing what that calligraphy says I can’t see the kanji in it…so it’s pretty impressive that people can.

he said he’s happy to know it’s as she translated and not “glad to be done with you, you’re not good enough for my daughter, i’m leaving…”


Sorry it took so long. I needed to look up a few things and make plenty of guesses to find the right pages. Here’s my best guess at a transcription:

Original (in Classical Japanese):

Source for kana guesses: 【みんなの知識 ちょっと便利帳】変体仮名(へんたいがな)・くずし字一覧 = 古文書解読の一助に

Modern Japanese version:



Pretty impressive caligraphy. Not every Japanese could produce something like that. Would love to have something like that in my home :frowning_face:


OK, so, it actually says 哥麿筆 according to this Chinese Wikipedia page on Kitagawa Utamaro. I can’t believe I didn’t think of 筆 even though I had seen 画 in his other pieces. I just kept expecting 書. What an idiot I am… anyway, yes, so, mystery solved, even if I have to say that’s quite a strange 筆 nonetheless.

I’m not sure if this helps, but to me, it’s really a matter of knowing conventions and stroke order, and of being able to spot similar shapes. Here are some standard versions of the 礻(using 神 as an example) in semi-cursive script:

and cursive script:

Notice how the final dot on the right is quite consistently omitted to save time. Instead, the right-to-left downward diagonal stroke just gets turned into a ‘down and back’ flick. Seeing as the returning stroke overlaps with the original downward diagonal stroke, the whole sequence can be further simplified into a single upward diagonal stroke that is written immediately after the vertical stroke in 礻. That’s what we saw in your friends’ mother-in-law’s calligraphy.

As for 斤, you need to know that it can be rendered as something like this:

That ultimately gives us a transformation that goes something along these lines:

which is fairly close (I think) to what we saw in your friend’s photo.

(Yeah, the last two samples were written by me. Sorry for the poor quality. In the first, I exaggerated the curve of the vertical stroke a little, though it really is quite normal to curve it in cursive styles. In the second, I should have paid more attention to proportions for the kanji in the top left, and for the rest, they’re probably a bit subpar because I don’t write 草書 very often, if at all.)


Can someone tell me what this bowl says? My kanji reading ability goes way down when it’s brush strokes instead of textbook fonts.


Do you have any information that might provide some context for the kanji, like where you got this bowl or if there’s a name associated with the designs?

In the meantime… I think some ‘head-on’ photos of each kanji would be helpful, but I think the one on the bottom is 雪, and the one on the left is 衣. I’m not sure what the one in the top right is. I have some ideas, but none of them seem logical to me at the moment.

EDIT: Maybe the last one is 閃 in a very simplified, cursive form. But I think it’s a stretch.