Meaning of kanji

I really don’t want to ‘pollute’ this community with ‘what does this mean’-questions, but I am a bit desperate. I’ve gotten a certificate on which two kanji are written. Written in a ‘sloppy’ way… I managed to recognize the second kanji (zen), but the first puzzles me still. I tried a lot of websites and apps, to no avail alas. The certificate is rather important to me, and as it hangs on a wall in my living room curious visitors like to know what’s written there. Can someone please help me out?

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It seems to be just the kanji for the dude’s nickname Rients “Ranzen” Ritskes

See also:


蘭 (らん) means Netherlands, so he’s probably just using “Dutch Zen” as his name.

Dear plantron,

Thanks for the prompt reply. That is indeed what I was told, RanZen is his nickname and it means Dutch Zen (which btw is also the name of the Dutch zen tradition he created. But I have difficulties recognizing 蘭 (らん) in the first kanji. What happened here?

It is indeed very difficult to recognize, and mine was just an educated guess. Alas, I’m not a cursive kanji expert. And cursive kanji can become illegible very quickly. Tofugu wrote about this a while ago:

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I think you are right, it is also in the red seal stamp in the middle on the second picture.


This is らんぜん in Armed Banana font. Armed Banana is not cursive, but it gives you some ideas of the simplifications and stroke number reductions people use in handwriting.


Thanks for all the answers. I didn’t figure out yet whether my ‘problem’ is caused by hentaigana, kuzushiji, a specific font, but I am not afraid any longer to say its is Holland what is depicted there. An interesting tour by the way, all this ways of writing Japanese.

Well actual Hentaigana has nothing to do with it, this is just some kind of 書道. The more cursive a font becomes, the more strokes are omitted from it. If you look on this site the 衡山草書 font is a good example.

This is also meant to be a signature, so that also explains it as this is certainly among the more artistic ways you could write it. In addition it’s a rather obscure character that isn’t used all that often anyway. Any country that Japan had contact with pre-war had some kind of character-based name, アメリカ=亜米利加、オランダ=阿蘭陀・和蘭陀、ドイツ=独逸、ポルトガル=葡萄牙 etc etc. However, aside from 米 these characters are very rarely used today.


I have to write 蘭 regularly. One of the stations on my commuter pass has it in the name.

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Thanks Syphus for your very useful contribution. There is indeed a font that produces what I was looking for! I’m proud to say our (Dutch) relation with Japan goes way back. We were allowed to trade with Japan when shogun Tokugawa gave us a trading permit in 1609.

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