I want to join two passions of mine in a single tattoo I want to get to commemorate something important to me.

One of these is the love for the Digimon series I had since I was very little and still endures, the other is the work of Brandon Sanderson, specifically the "Stormlight Archive" series.

In the Digimon series, there is this "Digicode", a sort of third syllabary for Japanese, there is a link to it if you want to see it: https://digimon.fandom.com/wiki/DigiCode

In the Stormlight Archive, there is an order of knights, and they all swear the same oath:

  • Life before death.
  • Strength before weakness.
  • Journey before destination.

My idea is to write the oath using the Digicode syllabary. My knowledge of Japanese is cursory at most, just know a few words from watching anime or playing videogames. I tried to transliterate it, like "Journey -> Yo-ni (ヨニ)", but I feel like I'm murdering the language and I don't want to have something half-baked burned into my skin forever.

I got this:

Life - ra-i-fu ライフ
before - bi-fo ビフオ
death - de-zu デヅ
Strength - su-to-re-n-zu ストレンズ or tsu-re-n-zu ツレンズ
Weakness - u-i-ku-ne-zu ウイクネズ
Journey - Yo-ni ヨニ
Destination - de-su-ti-ne-sho-n デスティネション

Wich, if correct, would become:

ライフ ビフア デヅ
ストレンズ ビフア ウイクネズ
ヨニ ビフア デスティネション

As I said, I have almost no idea of Japanese. I did this with the help of a friend and just a katakana table at my side, trying to match pronunciations. It might be, and I expect it to be, pretty wrong, but it's what I got.

As for translation, here is the conjoined effort from my friend and I, with the help of the google translator (which as far as I know is super unreliable).

  • Shi no mae no jinsei.
  • Yowa-sa no mae no tsuyo-sa.
  • Mokutekichi made no tabi.

We were not sure if "tsuyo-sa" is the correct word for it. Chikara is the one I know of, but just because I heard it in anime doesn't mean it's the right word. My friend thought "chikara" was more suited to spiritual strength or ki, and tsuyo-sa is a more "generic" term, but it is more of a gut feeling than anything tangible. The other words check up against a dictionary, as far as I know, but any nuances the language might have are lost to me.

The grammar is surely sketchy too.

Since some context might be useful to decide between different synonyms, I'm gonna quote a section of the book where one character explains, in-world, the meaning of the oath, in case it helps:

  • Life before death - The Radiant seeks to defend life, always. He never kills unnecessarily, and never risks his own life for frivolous reasons. Living is harder than dying. The Radiant's duty is to live.
  • Strength before weakness - All men are weak at some time in their lives. The Radiant protects those who are weak, and uses his strength for others. Strength does not make one capable of rule; it makes one capable of service.
  • Journey before destination - There are always several ways to achieve a goal. Failure is preferable to winning through unjust means. Protecting ten innocents is not worth killing one. In the end, all men die. How you lived will be far more important to the Almighty than what you accomplished.

What I'd like is two things:

  • A transliteration of the oath into a syllabary I can use (I think Katakana is the more appropriate one?)
  • A translation of the Oath in Japanese, but keep it in a syllabary so I can later "translate" it to Digicode. This might require explaining to me what's what, so I know what am I putting on my skin.

For both, I'd like to have the romaji too, if possible, so I can search the Digicode table with a little more ease. With these, I would have at least a couple of options and see which one looks better.

As an extra, if somehow any of you knows the official translation in Japanese, used in the books, that might help! But this is by no means necessary.

Thank you very much!

P.S.: I know there is a Digicode script for roman letters, but I have discarded it because it ends ups being too long and I don't particularly like the looks of it.

  • 2
    Not the downvoter here, but I will address your comment. You clearly show effort in your question to put us in context, which is great (this is usually not the case with downvoted questions). However, while it is true that your question shows effort from your part, it is also true that this effort and research has absolutely nothing to do with the reason why you made the question, i.e. to get a translation / transliteration. For this to be a stackable question, you should show your own attempts of translation or transliteration and point out the specific problems you faced in this attempts.
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 17:41
  • 2
    Btw, welcome to the Japanese Stackexchange :)
    – jarmanso7
    Commented Nov 7, 2019 at 17:42
  • 1
    Thanks @jarmanso7 for your comments. I had originally opted not to include my japanese ramblings because I felt like it was meaningless. Too much reliance on google translator and just copy-pasting out of a table, while understanding very little. But I wrote in the results of my translating effort now in the hopes of turning this into a good question. Writing StackExchange questions is an art I'm not totally proficient with, yet. My apologies.
    – Helwar
    Commented Nov 8, 2019 at 17:23
  • 1
    I might sound rude and off topic but please dont get a tattoo that you will regret after few years. Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 1:53
  • 1
    Somebody translated it as: 死(し)より命(いのち)、弱(よわ)さより強(つよ)さ、行(い)き先(さき)より旅路(たびろ) ☜旅路 should be read たび , though. reddit.com/r/translator/comments/asmm56/… より(も) expresses preferential "before" rather than chronological "before".
    – chocolate
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 5:19

1 Answer 1


As close as I can figure, this would transliterate into katakana as follows:

ライフ ビフォー デス

ストレングス ビフォー ウィークネス

ジャーニー ビフォー デスティネーション


ra-i-fu bi-fo— de-su

su-to-re-n-gu-su bi-fo— wi—ku-ne-su

ja—ni— bi-fo— de-su-ti-ne—sho-n

Don't forget to include the elongated sound symbol (—) in your conversion.

The grammar isn't going to be Japanese grammar, but that doesn't really seem to be necessary given that you are basing this off of DigiCode which was basically just short transliterated English words or phrases.

If you want to incorporate Japanese grammar I'd recommend going for a translation rather than a transliteration, but that is well above my paygrade. 

Fortunately, there is a Japanese translation (王たちの道) of this series available at least in some parts of the world. If you can get your hands on it, then all you'd have to do is convert it to hiragana and then to DigiCode glyphs.

I did a bit of searching and I managed to find what looks to be an actual quote from the translated books in a review here:



Shi no ma-e ni se-i. Yo-wa-sa no ma-e ni tsu-yo-sa. I-ki-sa-ki no ma-e ni ta-bi


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