Courage (勇) – Bushido Code Virtue for Kanji Tattoo

‘Courage; the spirit of daring and bearing’ , one of the virtues of Bushido, 武士道 (The Way of Warriors; Samurai’s code of conduct) for your kanji tattoo design is available for an instant download and you have 5 different kanji calligraphy styles to choose from. Your favourite tattoo artist DOES NOT need to know any Japanese.

Courage is expressed as 勇(Yu ; Pronounced as “you”)in Bushido.

Style 2

For a complete set of 7 virtues with meaningful and well thought-out order, click here.
Bushido 7 Virtues for Tattoo

For 7 virtues and Zen circle (Enso) with 武士道(Bushido) kanji in the centre, click here

Kanji Tattoo Fail on Bushido Codes on the internet.

I can’t stress enough how risky and dodgy it is to get a kanji tattoo design on the internet, especially for free (even paid images sometimes contain wrong kanjis).

When I image-googled “7 virtues of bushido tattoo “, the result was shocking…

Here is the search result.

This gentleman has a really impressive back! but to us, the Japanese, some of the characters make us go ‘oh…’

Wrong Bushido Code Kanji Tattoo 1 :  Loyalty

To express ‘Loyalty’ in the Bushido code/virtue, you need 2 kanjis, ‘忠’ and ‘義’. Judging from the blueprint (design data),  the Kanji appears to be designed as 1 word, thus looking rather compressed and imbalanced. Also the second Kanji, 義 is wrong.

I thought it might be an ancient writing style, so I checked it but I couldn’t find that style. It could be the Chinese version but Bushido being the Japanese thing, it’s always safe to stick to what is written in the Japanese literatures, which is ‘義’

Wrong Bushido Code Kanji Tattoo 2 :  Honour

This one is same as the one above. the word for ‘Honour’ in the Bushido Code/Virtue needs 2 Kanjis ‘名’ and ‘誉’.

But it appears that both the data and the actual tattoo are compress into 1 word and looking squashed.

Wrong Bushido Code Kanji Tattoo 3 : Veracity

This mistake is disastrous, it diminishes and changes the true meaning of the virtue.

Veracity : conformity to facts; accuracy.

The Kanji for this virtue is ‘誠’ . This is actually two kanjis put together into 1 kanji and it does exist unlike the other two mentioned above.

It is the combination of the kanjis below

  • 言 : word, to say.
  • 成 : to make it real, to grow.

So, the literal meaning of the kanji is ‘to conform to your word’ or ”If you say something, you make it real, or grow it into reality’ I hope you can get the picture.

This Kanji is actually a symbol of Shinsengumi, a special police force (group of highly skilled samurais) during the late Edo period.

The word for ‘this Kanji’ is read ‘Makoto’ and that kanji tattoo in the photo is pronounced as the same but different meaning, which is “true”, ‘not fake’ and ‘genuineness’. It is a kanji that has a positive meaning but just not right in this context.

Wrong Bushido Code Kanji Tattoo 4 :  Righteous

The Kanji for Rectitude/Righteous is wrong. This kanji is also used in ‘Loyalty’ (忠)

As picture is worth a thousand words, here  I put the right Kanji next to it so you can compare and see the difference.

If I ever meet someone with wrong kanji tattoos like this, should I let that person know? knowing that would most likely disappoint him/her. Maybe I recommend another tattoo, ‘Ignorance is bliss’, which is ‘知らぬが仏‘ in Japanese.

What does 勇(Yu : Courage) mean to Samurai?

Courage is not just about being reckless.

To a 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.

Instant Download

You can download the file right after the purchase and no need to wait for me to send it to you. Then you just simply forward it to your favourite tattoo artist. The design is 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 design DOSE NOT NEED TO BE MIRRORED, meaning it should appear on your skin/object just as it appears on the paper.

Depending on your purpose,  pick either jpeg or pdf

If you are looking to use the design just as it appears and not wanting to resize it, then the “jpeg” should be fine.

But if you are looking to

  • use it on a large object and need to resize
  • change the layout / position
    (e.g, vertical▶️horizontal / angled,  etc)

then the “pdf” should be your choice as it will be less work for your tattoo artist, meaning costs less.
(You need to check with your tattoo artist though)

Click the link below for more information.

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

5 different styles

You have 5 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 add it to the cart.

Click the image to have a close look at them.

If you are not sure, please read through the page below or simply contact me.

▶️Purchasing process


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