I have this two sentences:

この正確な瞬間に Right in this moment

私が生きている I'm alive

And I have to simplify this three kanji 確 瞬 間. I've already opened a question for it and they kindly explained to me that it's possibile to write it with something like this*, but they also told me that it's better not to do it, because simplified kanji aren't so common.

enter image description here

The problem is that I really need it to be simplified for a tattoo of a friend of mine and we've thought that maybe katakana could be a good solution, but I'm not capable at all to translate it and each sentence shouldn't be longer than 8 "characters". The first sentence could be replaced with "rembember that" , perhaps it's better to translate...

Can you help us?

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    I'll clarify some confusion about "simplified kanji". That abbreviation for 間 originated in cursive script, so it looks fine next to other cursive text. It looks visually jarring next to regular script, which is why many people will recommend against you writing it that way on a tattoo. I personally think it's fine as long as the whole tattoo is in cursive, but to find someone who does that well is probably incredibly difficult. Your image sample shows shorthand 間 next to regular script everything else, which is why it looks bad.
    – dROOOze
    May 5, 2018 at 20:25
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    @droooze So it's like writing with several different font styles, right? Like mixing Script, Times Roman, Comic Sans, etc. inside one word or in different words in one sentence, right? May 5, 2018 at 20:32
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    I recommend 今この時を生きる. This is easy for a tattoo, isn't it? May 5, 2018 at 20:53
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    今この時 can imply "this instant". 瞬間 is good but it seems to be complex for a tattoo. May 5, 2018 at 21:06
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    Aaaaah ok, thanks guys (I can't tag you all), I got the point of the last kanji and now it seems so obvious from the beginning. @Yuuichi Tam yes, that should be good... at this point if it's not I would say that it's a problem of theirs thank you for everything
    – User1990
    May 6, 2018 at 7:28

3 Answers 3


I hesitate to post an opinion-based answer about tattoo (no matter how grammatically correct, they always end up appearing weird or hilarious to the eyes of native Japanese speakers, anyway), but why don't you use simpler word than 瞬間/正確? Japanese people cannot even read most "simplified kanji" used in China. Don't mix them with kana.

正確 is a Sino-Japanese word meaning "accurate", as in "3.14 is more accurate than 3 as an approximation of π". That's not the word you need in the first place. 瞬間 by itself is not a bad word, but if it's too complicated for you, it's way better to rephrase it than to try to distort the kanji. Katakana would only increase the number of characters.

If the main message is "Remember I'm not dead, don't forget me", then something like 「まさに今 私は生きている」 should be simple enough. If the message is more like "I want to live fully in the present (rather than dreaming about the future or looking back at the past)", then something like 「今この時を生きる」 should work. (Again, I'm not saying such tattoos are natural to the eyes of Japanese people.)

  • this user, when speaking of "simplified kanji" isn't actually referring to the simplified Chinese language. He/she is talking about a typographical Japanese font that uses fewer strokes (like cursive). Many Japanese people can't read those, either, of course. :P May 6, 2018 at 5:21
  • Can I ask you why you wouldn't consider it normal? Is it for cultural or grammatical reasons?
    – User1990
    May 6, 2018 at 8:06
  • Both social and aesthetic reasons. For the former, see this, for example. For the latter, kana-kanji sentences are too mundane and non-fashionable because that's what people read every day. It doesn't look like a mystic symbol at all... Some young Japanese people do have tattoos, but they prefer English or Chinese text because it's difficult to read and thus "cool".
    – naruto
    May 6, 2018 at 8:17
  • I haven't read the article yet, so I'll ask you just about the aesthetic reason... I personally like occidental tattoo inspired by normal writing because you wouldn't expect it to be tattooed... I'm not talking about cursive fonts, I really mean that in our culture it's not uncool to have a Serif / Sans-serif font word tattooed... Can't this "normal that becomes unsual-cool" concept be applied also to Japanese? I mean, is it an artistic trend limited to our culture? I hope the answer is not in the article, I would feel stupid ^^'
    – User1990
    May 6, 2018 at 8:34
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    tattoos in general are frowned on in Japan, because there is strong association with criminals. Before tourism boomed, almost the only people who had tattoos were people in gangs or people trying to look tough. As the article says, antisocial people. That's the social aspect. The aesthetic aspect is just what I mentioned in a comment under my answer. Tattoos look odd to most Japanese people to begin with, so a tattoo IN Japanese is much more boring to them than a tattoo in a foreign language, which at least would have a "cool" factor (which is why I guess your friend wants it in Japanese). May 6, 2018 at 9:17

Katakana wouldn't be a good solution for your problem, because katakana are used for representing loan words from other languages, or for emphasis.

It would look a little strange to have a Japanese sentence written entirely in katakana. Completely in HIRAGANA would not be too strange... but a mix might work better ...

If you don't need those words to be specifically in kanji, but want the message essentially the same, since it seems like you're trying to say "I'm living in the moment." I recommend:

ima kono shunkan ni watashi ga ikiteiru


It's not 2 sentences though, it's one sentence 16 characters long, as written. (Plus the sentence ending mark, but it seems like that should not cause you a problem.)

"living in the moment" Japanese sentence

If this solution doesn't work for you, I would need more information to be able to think of alternatives. For example if this is not about living in the moment, but more about "being truly alive" or something, the phrase would be different.

  • @naruto is right though. Whatever method you choose, whatever message you eventually decide on, it's not going to look "normal" to Japanese people. Even if the message comes across exactly as you intend it, it's going to seem like a strange thing to have as a tattoo. May 6, 2018 at 5:48
  • sorry, I don't understand... Are you saying that also the meaning itself it doesn't have any sense or that its writing, if it fits my requests, would never look "normal"?
    – User1990
    May 6, 2018 at 7:55
  • it is perfect, thank you very very much ^^
    – User1990
    May 6, 2018 at 8:09
  • The meaning will come across. It's a tiny bit odd that "shunkan" would be written in hiragana, since the kanji is a fairly standard word. But the idea of writing something like that, in a tattoo, will look strange to Japanese people. Imagine if you saw a Japanese person with a tattoo that said "I like icecream." Whatever font they used, it would be a strange thing to see on a tattoo. Kind of like that. Add in the fact that hiragana is used where they would use kanji, and it just adds to that sense of "odd". The message itself is understandable though. May 6, 2018 at 8:56
  • Got it, thank you. But why do you compare "in this precise moment I'm alive" to "I like icecream?" I mean, they have very different philosofy, do you think it's strange in every language or does it sound so common just in Japanese culture?
    – User1990
    May 6, 2018 at 9:09

私は今 生きている would be fine if you want something simple, I think. There's even a song that shares the title.


Feel free to play around with it.

  • Oh thank you very much, I didn't know about the song :D
    – User1990
    May 6, 2018 at 8:03
  • I don't know the extent of how popular the song is ^^ (it might just be a small choral arrangement) but it's always good to find an example of a word or phrase in use to verify that it's not unusual
    – Eversome
    May 6, 2018 at 11:35

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