0

皆さん、こんにちは!

I have a somewhat basic but intricate question about the way the Japanese say forever or something close in concept (sayings, expressions or poetic ways would work too).

The context is that my girlfriend would like to get a tattoo saying forever in Japanese in memory of a late family member, but we hesitate as to what words to pick.

My research got me so far and I managed to find these ones, please note that my interpretation could be completely off:

  • 永遠に: closer to eternally but would work in that case in my opinion
  • ずっと: more casual, and closer to always
  • いつまでも: closest yet

What other ways of saying forever did I miss?

ご援助いただきありがとうございます.

1
  • For the meaning of R.I.P., a typical construction is Xよ永遠に (X should be the person's name and よ is a vocative marker). From a Japanese speaker's perspective, tattooing it is a bit odd though.
    – sundowner
    Mar 22, 2023 at 0:29

1 Answer 1

1

Since this is a question about a tattoo, I'd recommend against anything other than Kanji, unless you guys have a specific preference towards Kana's. That said, let's examine the options:

Kanji term 永遠 is literally the one-to-one translation of "forever," and no you do not add the に. Adding に would make it an adverb, and is required for grammatical functions, but there is no reason to include a grammatical particle in a tattoo. 永遠 is usually read as "ei-en", but in songs and poems the same Kanji can be read as "to-wa" as well, meaning the same thing.

永遠な愛 Everlasting love (love that is forever)
永遠に続く To continue forever.

The な and に are grammatical particles I do not suggest you include.

Another possible word is 永久, meaning "eternal" or "forever" as well, but it sound more formal and are used in more serious, less poetic, less literary situations. It's read as 'ei-kyuu'

永久保証 Life-time guarantee(eternal guarantee)
永久脱毛 Complete hair removal (hair removed forever)

Then comes your hiragana options: ずっと means something very close to "always", and is a very common word in speech that does not carry the artfulness nor the poetic-ness of 永遠. It's just a plain word to anyone who speaks Japanese, and frankly, a tattoo that says only ずっと and nothing else doesn't make much sense. It's almost as random as someone getting an English tattoo that says "blue".

いつまでも literally translates to "until whenever", and is better than the former option. It's used in a lot of art works, and seeing this phrase(not a single word) on its own as a tattoo is not so out-of-place. There are actually songs titled "いつまでも" so it's a good one if you prefer the look of the characters.

One more option, you could use the Hiragana とわ (to-wa) if you'd like, as that's probably the most literary, poetic way to say "forever" in Japanese among these options. To-wa could also be written with the Kanji 永遠 and 永久, but conversely when people see 永遠 and 永久 the first reading that comes to mind is "ei-en" and "ei-kyuu", unless they're told to read it as "to-wa". So, if "to-wa" is what you want, it's better to render it in Hiragana as とわ to avoid mis-readings. It all comes down to personal preferences.

6
  • If, just in case, you like the word とわ but like the kanji 永遠 as well, you could tattoo the kanji and then tattoo the Hiragana on top, just like this: 永遠{とわ}. This is the standard way for Japanese to denote pronunciations of Kanji.
    – dvx2718
    Mar 21, 2023 at 23:42
  • 3
    The idea of tattooing furigana seems a bridge too far…
    – jogloran
    Mar 22, 2023 at 1:38
  • 2
    I would most certainly burst out laughing if I saw furigana above some kanji on a tattoo, no matter what the kanji was
    – eclmist
    Mar 22, 2023 at 4:36
  • It would take most Japanese some time to realize とわ is for 永遠 if it’s written in hiragana only, especially on someone's skin.
    – aguijonazo
    Mar 22, 2023 at 7:57
  • Thank you all for the info. In the case of いつまでも, I stumbled upon a kanji version, though I don't know how much it is used or if it's even relevant in that case: 何時までも. I agree that Kanji would be much better but the guy who makes the tattoo isn't really versed in Japanese and we're trying to find the easier stuff to actually write so it would actually look nice. Would having 永遠な愛 tattooed be weird at all? I agree that it has quite a lot of strokes, but it would be closer to the idea of what we want it to represent. @dvx2718
    – Ryoryo
    Mar 23, 2023 at 14:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .