Photo shared by George Takei is a perfect cultural comment


Oh my…. ‘Nuff said. Tip of the hat to George Takei, who shared this piece of brilliance on his Facebook page. The photo now has over 200,000 Likes… in one day.

When white people have asked me (sorry, they’ve all been white people, no Asians, Latinos or Africans) what their tattoo means, I’ve half-jokingly told them “It means ‘I’m a dumbshit.'” or something to that effect. No one I know would ask me that, because they would know that I DON’T READ KANJI.

It’s like when non-Japanese people come up to me and introduce themselves by saying something in Japanese. I know only a little conversational Japanese….

Any Japanese person could tell at a glance that I’m Japanese American, not Japanese, and would not assume I could speak the language.

But that’s another blog post….

UPDATE: A reader, Linguarum, posted a link in the comments below to a site that actually goes to the trouble of translating Kanji tattoos off photos that people have submitted. The site is Hanzi Smatter and it’s a hoot.

Tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Photo shared by George Takei is a perfect cultural comment

  1. phil says:

    Gil: have you ever seen the site ( It has amusing examples of “Engrish” (poorly-written and often unintentionally funny English) from various countries. In their FAQ, they state that they’re not trying to mock the people who wrote the Engrish, and that they acknowledge that many native English-speakers are notorious for tattooing Chinese characters on themselves, often without even knowing what the writing means.

    They mention that their first examples of Engrish were from Asian countries, but they now feature Engrish from many other countries as well, including France, Greece, Spain, Germany, Russia, etc.

  2. Gil Asakawa says:

    Yes! I used to check regularly in the early days, though I hadn’t visited the site in years. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. linguarum says:

    Also check out Thousands of mistaken kanji tattoos. Kind of like the Asian revenge for Except mistaken kanji tattoos are a bit worse IMHO, because a tattoo is a lot more permanent than a t-shirt..

  4. Gil Asakawa says:

    OMG, that’s sad, and fantastic. Thanks for passing this along… I’ll update my post with a link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.