Quick one, I have heard a few interpretations of this and had some suggestions that there might be some cultural usage that isn't immediately obvious, hoping to get some clarity.

Please forgive the poor drawing, hopefully it is clear enough!


  • btw did you really see the characters arranged just as what you drew? I hope that's not another failed kanji tattoo... Apr 22, 2017 at 15:00
  • I did, but isnt that for if it was written bottom to top in vertical text?
    – user21840
    Apr 22, 2017 at 15:40
  • Nope en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… Apr 22, 2017 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


It must have been written 義{ぎ}兄弟{きょうだい}.

Usually it means a brother-in-law. But, in this movie it means blood brothers: two or more men not related by birth who have sworn loyalty to each other. This is in modern times usually done in a ceremony, known as a blood oath, where having each person make a small cut, usually on a finger, hand or the forearm, and then the two cuts are pressed together and bound, the idea being that each person's blood now flows in the other participant's veins.

enter image description here

  • Thank you, that's roughly what I thought/hoped. I was once told that it may have some relation to gangs, is that the case?
    – user21840
    Apr 22, 2017 at 13:32
  • @user21840 >I was once told that it may have some relation to gangs, is that the case? Yes, that's right. In the society of yakuzas, which means Japanese gangs, the word 義兄弟{ぎきょうだい} is commonly used.
    – user20624
    Apr 22, 2017 at 13:40

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