Meaning of kanji


#1

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?


#2

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

See also:

Note:

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


#3

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?


#4

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:


#5

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


#6

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.


#7

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.


#8

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.


#9

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


#10

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.