Question about "ken zen ichi nyo"
  • The phrase "ken zen ichi nyo," the concept of "body and mind as one" has a lot of importance for me. My wife and I had 'ken zen ichi nyo' engraved inside our wedding rings. After a few years I decided to get a wedding-band tattoo. The artist said the kanji for ken and zen were too complex to make them as small as I wanted, but the other two were OK.

    I used the description found here to get the right kanji.

    I googled 'nyo' and found that the kanji can mean a few things, including 'equal.' I thought that sounded good, and since 'nyo' was a reference to the entire phrase 'ken zen ichi nyo,' I went ahead and got my tattoo done.

    So I have a tattoo that is just the kanji for 'nyo' with a thick brush-stroke on each side. Now that I'm learning more about the Japanese language, I found out that 'nyo' usually just means 'as' or 'are.' I was afraid that 'nyo' is kind of meaningless by itself - like the English word 'as' or 'are.'

    My question is this - to make the words more correct, would it be better to have the kanji for 'one' added to my tattoo, so it reads 'as one,' or does 'nyo' by itself have enough meaning to sound OK?

    Either way, I might just leave the tattoo alone, because it has meaning to me personally, even if it is grammatically incorrect. :/ This question has just been bugging me for a few days.
  • 如 noun,buddhist にょ tathata (the ultimate nature of all things)
    That's a pretty cool meaning too.

    IMO, I wouldn't change it, if you're happy with your tatoo that's all that matters. Adding just part of the phrase, like just adding a single stroke, wouldn't make it either better looking or more meaningful.

    Grammatically you can't be really wrong having just one kanji all by itself. Plus it can be translated by a noun (like most kanji i guess lol). So don't worry too much about your tatoo. If you really want to modify it, I say put the whole sentence.
  • Ok, thanks for the info.

    Originally, I wanted the whole sentence tattooed around my finger, but my tattoo artist said the kanji for ken and zen were too complex to make them that small - they would just get blurry, he said.

    I'm happy with it, I'll just leave it alone. I was planning to go back and have it touched up, and just thought I'd ask about that before I went in.

    Thank you!

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