Courage (Samurai Virtue) In Brush Stroke Japanse Kanji Symbol For Tattoo

‘Courage’ in a Japanese Kanji Symbol (勇 reads Yu as in ‘You’ in English) for tattoo is available for instant download. This single word is one of the 7 virtues of Bushido (武士道: The Way of Warriors/Samurai’s code of conduct). It is simple yet has a powerful and deep meaning highly regarded by Samurai warriors. The symbol is available in 3 different writing styles for your preference. verified by a native Japanese speaker, your favourite tattoo artist DOES NOT need to know any Japanese.

Courage Kanji Tattoo on side neck
Style 1
Courage Kanji Tattoo on Chest for Guys
Style 3

What is Kanji ?

Kanji is one of the 3 Japanese writing systems. It is a set of symbols that represent words or concepts.

You might have seen those asian hanging scrolls with some calligraphy letters on it like these. They represent themes, values, resolutions, ambitions, and convictions.

Kanji on a hanging scroll
Tea ceremony room
Martial Arts Dojo

Courage in Japanese Kanji Symbol and its deep meaning to Samurai

Courage is not just about being reckless. For samurai, ‘Yu'(Courage) can be counted as one of the virtues only when the action is taken in the cause of Righteousness (義).

To rush into the thick of battle and to be slain in it is easy enough (should’t be praised at all), and the merest churl is equal to the task; but it is true courage to live when it is right to live and to die only when it is right to die”

Mitsukuni Mito

The spiritual aspect of valor is evidenced by composure—calm presence of mind. Tranquility is courage in repose. It is a statical manifestation manifestation of valor, as daring deeds are a dynamical. A truly brave man is ever serene; he is never taken by surprise; nothing ruffles the equanimity of his spirit. In the heat of battle he remains cool; in the midst of catastrophes he keeps level his mind. Earthquakes do not shake him, he laughs at storms. We admire him as truly great, who, in the menacing presence of danger or death,

Inazo Nitobe

A great example of this courage being calm is when Ōta Dōkan, who built the Edo castle, was stabbed with spear.

The assassin, knowing his predilection for poetry, gave him this couplet.

Ah! how in moments like these Our heart doth grudge the light of life;
(now that you are dying, you value your life the most right?  )


to which Dōkan smiled and replied

Had not in hours of peace, It learned to lightly look on life.

(I’ve never thought that my life had ever existed in the first place)


When the death is right in front of you and he was not upset at all and remain calm, calm enough to come up with a couplet.

That’s what ‘Yu’ means to a true Samurai.

No Machine Translations = No More Kanji Fail

Japanese symbols are very tricky scripts and many people end up with wrong/awkward kanji tattoos. Even a celebrity like Ariana Grande got it wrong. (I’m glad she’s got it fixed with the help of her tutor and she’s happy with that Japanese script tattoo)

For this reason, it is best to consult a native Japanese speaker beforehand whether the kanji actually conveys the meaning you have in mind.

Bushido virtues gone wrong

Bushido codes are one of the most popular Kanji tattoos. You can find many free images for them on the internet. However, it is not uncommon to spot wrong, not properly written and even severe lack of important kanji, and people end up having those wrong symbols on their skin…

Wrong Kanji Tattoo

These are the correct Kanji symbols for these two.

Next, severe lack of 名 for Honour and 義 for Loyalty.

Sever lack of Kanji Symbols

Honour and Loyalty has 2 kanji but looks like they are compressed into 1 kanji on another image.

Bushido Kanji Tattoo fail
2 Kanji Symbols compressed into 1 Kanji

To help people get the right kanji and Japanese script tattoos, I started this online store.  All letters here at are verified by a native Japanese speaker, and you can download the letters right after purchase.

Instant Download

There is a button to download the file right after checkout and no need to wait for me to send it to you. Then you just simply forward it to your favourite tattoo artist. The letters are 100% accurate and he/she does not need to know any Japanese. The file contains both calligraphy style and line art (Stencil).Stencil is what your tattoo artist must have to ink the tattoo as it serves as the outline to trace the artwork onto your skin.

NOTE : The letter DOES NOT NEED TO BE MIRRORED, it should appear just as it appears on the print-out.


As a rule of thumb,

  • jpg for fingers, behind the ear
  • pdf for arms, chest, shoulder, and other body parts

The script in any download files with ‘One Word‘ tag approximately fits in a 2cm (0.8inch) x 2cm grid and, in general,  this size is suitable for finger tattoos and behind the ear tattoo.

If you need to make it bigger for arms, chest, and other body parts, please select the pdf as it is illustrator-editable and resize-friendly. Your tattoo artist can make it bigger without the outline getting blurry.

Nevertheless, please check with the example files.

If you are happy with the size of the letters and not do need to make it larger, then the “jpg” will do. But if you think you need to make it bigger or change the layout, positions, colours etc, then select the “pdf” just to be on the safe side as it is fully customisable to your likings. It might also be less work for your tattoo artist and cost less. (Please check with your tattoo artist)

▶️ pdf or jpg ? Which one is right for me?

3 different styles

You have 3 writing styles to choose from for this design.

each style gives different impressions and I have summarised in the gallery above.

How to order

Just simply tick your preferred style and hit the ‘purchase’ button. You have 3 writing styles to choose from for this design. Each style gives different impressions. In a nutshell,

  • Style 1: Elegant, Delicate
  • Style 2: Chic, Sophisticated
  • Style 3: Earnest, Sincere

Courage in Japanese Kanji Symbol for tattoo writing style comparison


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Product Information

  • Last Updated

    July 24, 2021

  • Price


  • Released

    October 10, 2020

  • Sales

    3 sales

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