check the meaning of kanji before getting the tattoo

Translating a metaphor may be difficult. Because sometimes it doesn’t make any sense when you translate it  literally in other language.

How about this case? Let’s see the question from a follower.

I was wondering if you could help me translate a phrase for a tattoo idea I have. The original phrase is “If you look for the light, you can often find it. If you look for the darkness, it is all you will ever see.” I’d like to get a small, personal tattoo summarizing the first half of that phrase — “Look for the light.” Google translates that to 光を探す.

Ohhhh, that’s a nice phrase! I get that intend even if it’s written in Japanese. So, 光を探す works fine. However, I have some extra suggestions.

  • 光を探す
  • 光を捜す

Both of phrases are pronounced “Hikari wo sagasu”. 光(hikari) means “Light” and を(wo / o) is the indication that the preceding word is the object of the sentence.

Both of 探す(saga-su) and 探す(saga-su) means “look for”, “search”, or “seek”, but there are a slight difference depends on the object of the sentence.

  • 探す: the object of the sentence is What You Want.
  • 捜す: the object of the sentence is the Missing Stuff.

That means, both of them can be the best. I can use “探す” because the light is what I want. But “捜す” may work better if I want to say “I had a light before (I lost it but I’d find one if I look for it)”.

Plus, you can change the part in Hiragana script to Katakana script.

  • 光ヲ探ス
  • 光ヲ捜ス

This writing style is unusual, but it’s sometimes used in titles of songs or art works today. It gives a slightly harder impression than Hiragana. Some people like it better that way.

Please find the style and nuance you like!


Today’s Kanji Shirt is “Never Give Up”! You can find a light! (*’▽’)/

Other Questions on Japanese Kanji


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *