So you want a Japanese character tattoo? There are three types of Japanese symbols to choose from. The first type, by far the most common, is called Kanji. Kanji is most popular for tattoos as the characters are very stylish. Each Kanji symbol points to a particular concept so there are thousands of Kanji ideographs. Some estimates place the number at 40,000, so it is important to find a specialist who can give you an accurate translation and purchase a stencil for your artist before you get inked.
The second type of Japanese symbols is named Hiragana. Hiragana is an everyday writing style script widely used in print media such as magazines and newspapers. The characters have a much rounder appearance than Kanji symbols, so people sometimes refer to them as cursive. Bear that in mind when searching for a Hiragana tattoo. It is entirely possible to integrate these two styles so that you have both the writing (Hiragana) and idea (Kanji) in one sentence.
The third and final type of Japanese symbols is named Katakana. These symbols are primarily used to transliterate non-Japanese words. Their look is more angular and sharper than Hiragana symbols. Together, Hiragana and Katakana are known as Kana, and there are about 46 symbols for each set of Kana. These symbols originated from the Kanji symbols created in the 9th century and have since evolved into the modern symbols.
Because the Japanese is incredibly complex it is especially vital that you get an accurate translation for your Kanji tattoos or you might end up with a cursive tattoo that has a different meaning than your intended.