"Exile Husband Retrievable Arrow with a String Attached to It"

Reader "Elton Joe" has emailed me a link to BMEZine (Body Modification Extreme Magazine) along with the following comment:

"I wonder why you never see native Chinese or Japanese with character tattoos? Maybe these misguided Westerners should ask themselves this first. But many of them obviously don't have a strong enough interest in the cultures to learn about them before putting a permanent mark of something they don't understand on their bodies."

The closest translation of the tattoo above (considering the first character is only a partial of ) is "exile husband retrievable arrow with a string attached to it", aka "manleash".

= flow, circulate, drift; class

= man; people; mankind; someone else

= man, male adult, husband; those

= catch, arrest; shoot with bow

Personally I don't have any tattoos. I do enjoy looking at some tattoos, even though majority of them are poorly done. Tattoos in Chinese (or Asian) culture have negative meanings attached to them.

Tattoo started in China thousands of years ago as punishment for criminals. Instead of modern day's local police to notify residents that a sex offender is moving into their neighborhood, the Chinese have tattooed their criminals on their faces with information such as name, crime committed, etc...

Asian organized crime groups such as Japanese Yakusa and Chinese Triad, require their members to have large tattoo done to prove their loyalty. Some Japanese businesses have signs posted to refuse service to anyone with such tattoos.

I can categorize the people who gets Hanzi or Kanji tattoos in following groups:

1. "To Be Cool"

These are mostly people that have very little knowledge of outside world, especially about the Far East. They got the tattoo because it was something new to them, and they liked how Hanzi or Kanji looked, without fully understand what they meant.

2. "Other Cultural is Greener"

People in this group are very intimated by their own culture (or the lack of). Therefore, they would borrow something for another culture and identify themselves with the new one.

3. "Show Off"

This group of people purely got the tattoo as show off piece. They could careless what it said, but it makes them stand out from a crowd. Any attention is better than no-attention, regardless if it is positive or negative.