Politeness (礼) – Bushido Code Virtue for Kanji Tattoo

‘Politeness’, 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.

Politeness is expressed as 礼(Rei)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 礼(Rei : Politeness) mean to Samurai?

I will give two examples of Politeness (Rei) unique to Japanese, which you’ll probably find peculiar or weird.

‘Rei’ is not just about being polite at random people. It will be a poor virtue if it is exercised by your fear of loosing good manners.(being afraid that people might think ‘oh you are rude’)   As ‘Rei’ is stemmed from ‘Benevolence’ and ‘Modesty’ and actuated by tender feeling towards the sensibilities of others, it is an expression of sympathy. It also means to respect social positions of others, not based on plutocratic(rich or not rich, high social status vs low social status) distinction but on the character of the person.

Japanese Weird Politeness 1 : Gift / Present

When giving a present, Japanese tend to say

I brought you this menial thing…


This phrase is common in formal situations. You might find this confusing thinking ‘Why would you give something you think is menial to me.. are you trying to mess with me or what?’

The reason why we use this expression is because we thinks this is menial when compared to your greatness, dignity and value etc.

Japanese Weird Politeness 2 : Sharing pain

Let’s say you are walking down the street out in the hot glaring sun with no shade over you and ran into your friend who has a portable parasol over him. When you started to have chat, that friend put close that parasol and started exposing him/herself in the same hot glaring sun.

We do this thinking that, as much as I’d like you to share my shade with you, it’s not large enough to do so. Let me at least put my self in your shoes and share the discomfort. Because it is not fair just me in this comfort and I feel sorry.

If you are to get a Bushido Kanji Tattoo, I highly recommend reading a book written by Inazo Nitobe.

➡️ Bushido: The Soul of Japan.

You can download the file right after purchase and no need to wait.

Don’t risk getting dodgy tattoo designs for free on the internet.

I have a post on why people end up with kanji fails by downloading free kanji designs on the web.

➡️NO MORE TATTOO FAIL ! Get 100% Confident with your Kanji tattoo

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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