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This means "life is good," "life is great," or "life is beautiful" in Japanese.
The first two characters mean "life" (as in your or a human lifespan).
The third character kind of means "is."
The last five characters are a long adjective that means wonderful, splendid, and/or magnificent. In the context of life it reads more like good or beautiful.
Note: Because this selection contains some special Japanese Hiragana characters, it should be written by a Japanese calligrapher.
These two characters create a word that means, "harmonious" or, "in perfect harmony." The deeper meaning or more natural translation would be something like, "beautiful life."
The first character means peace and harmony.
The second character means beautiful. But in this case, when combined with the first character, beautiful refers to being satisfied with what you have in your life. This can be having good relations, good feelings, comfort, and having enough (with no feeling of wanting).
Note: In Japanese, this is often used as the name "Wami." This title is probably more appropriate if your audience is Chinese.
年年有餘 is a common proverb or wish of prosperity you'll hear around the time of Chinese New Years.
Directly translated character by character it means, "Year Year Have Surplus." A more natural English translation including the deeper meaning would be "Every Year may you Have Abundance in your life."
On a side note, this phrase often goes with a gift of something related to fish. 年年有餘 is because the last character "yu" which means surplus or abundance has exactly the same pronunciation in Mandarin as the word for "fish."
年年有餘 is also one of the most common titles for traditional paintings that feature koi fish.
In China, this phrase might make an odd wall scroll - a customer asked especially for this common phrase which is why it appears here. See my other abundance-related words if you want a wall scroll that will seem more comfortable in Chinese culture.
Note: This can be pronounced in Korean, but it's not a commonly used term.
This can also mean: "Place Strict Standards on Oneself in Public Service."
This Chinese proverb is often used to express how one should act as a government official. Most of us wish our public officials would hold themselves to higher standards. I wish I could send this scroll, along with the meaning to every member of Congress, and the President (or if I was from the UK, all the members of Parliament, and the PM)
The story behind this ancient Chinese idiom:
A man named Cai Zun was born in China a little over 2000 years ago. In 24 AD, he joined an uprising led by Liu Xiu who later became the emperor of the Eastern Han Dynasty.
Later, the new emperor put Cai Zun in charge of the military court. Cai Zun exercised his power in strict accordance with military law, regardless of the offender's rank or background. He even ordered the execution of one of the emperor's close servants after the servant committed a serious crime.
Cai Zun led a simple life but put great demands on himself to do all things in an honorable way. The emperor rewarded him for his honest character and honorable nature by promoting him to the rank of General and granting him the title of Marquis.
Whenever Cai Zun would receive an award, he would give credit to his men and share the reward with them.
Cai Zun was always praised by historians who found many examples of his selfless acts that served the public interest.
Sometime, long ago in history, people began to refer to Cai Zun as "ke ji feng gong."
南山之壽 is a wish for long life for someone. The first part of this Japanese phrase is, "Nan Zan," which literally means "south mountain." This mountain is one of good wishes, good fortune, and prosperity. The title is often used as a salutation of good wishes.
The third Kanji is just a connector, and the last Kanji means long life or longevity.
I guess you could translate this phrase as "May your life be as long as Nan Zan is tall."
選擇生活 can mean to choose life instead of death (or suicide) or to choose to live life to the fullest.
I think of it as the key phrase used by Renton (Ewan McGregor) in the movie Trainspotting. While Chinese people will not think of Trainspotting when they see this phrase, for me, it will always be what comes near the end of this colorful rant:
Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players, and electrical tin can openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed-interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisure wear and matching luggage. Choose a three piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up brats you have spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life.
This is a phrase that means "May you have good fortune as great as the eastern oceans, and may your life last as long as the southern mountains."
In ancient Chinese mythology, the eastern oceans and southern mountains are where God resides (basically it is the same as saying "heaven"). So it's like saying, "May your good fortune and life be as vast as the heavens."
There is also a longer, 14-character version of this phrase. Also, this can be cut into two scrolls (with half the phrase on each side - great for hanging on either side of a doorway). Just let me know if you'd like a special version (there is an additional cost).
靈魂伴侶 is the literal translation of "Soul Mates."
靈魂伴侶 is kind of the western way to express "soul mates" but translated into Chinese, Japanese Kanji, and old Korean Hanja.
The first two characters mean "soul" or "spirit."
The second two characters mean "mate," "companion" or "partner."
Although not the most common title, these characters have good meaning and will be received well in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. It's a universal title!
In English, the word order shown in the title is the most natural or popular. In Chinese, the natural order is a little different:
The first character means laugh (sometimes means smile).
The second character means love.
The last two characters mean "live" as in "to be alive" or "pursue life."
Please note: 笑愛生活 is not a normal phrase, in that it does not have a subject, verb, and object. It is a word list. Word lists are not common in Asian languages/grammar (at least not as normal as they are in English). We only added this entry because so many people requested it.
We put the characters in the order shown above, as it almost makes a single word with the meaning, "A life of laughter and love." It's a made-up word but it sounds good in Chinese.
We removed the Japanese pronunciation guide from this entry, as the professional Japanese translator deemed it "near nonsense" from a Japanese perspective. Choose this only if your audience is Chinese and you want the fewest-possible characters to express this idea.
In Korean, this would be 소애생활 or "so ae saeng hwar" but I have not confirmed that this makes sense in Korean.
生命力 can mean "vitality" or "libido." The first two characters mean "life" or "life force." The last character is a common word that means "strength." So together you get the meaning "life strength" which is the essence of vitality. Some will also translate this word as "good health."
命 is often translated as "destiny."
Sometimes this character is simply translated as "life" but more in terms of one's lot in life. In certain context, this can mean command or decree (generally from a king or emperor). Of course, such a decree are part of fate and lead you to fulfill your destiny.
In Chinese, this word leans toward the fate or destiny definition.
In Korean, it is usually read simply as "life."
In Japanese, it can mean all definitions shown above, depending on context.
See Also: Good Fortune
Courtesy is being polite and having good manners. When you speak and act courteously, you give others a feeling of being valued and respected. Greet people pleasantly. Bring courtesy home. Your family needs it most of all. Courtesy helps life to go smoothly.
If you put the words "fēi cháng bù" in front of this, it is like adding "very much not." It's a great insult in China, as nobody wants to be called "extremely discourteous" or "very much impolite."
至愛 can mean the best love or most sincere love of your life. This could be a romantic love such as the love you have for your spouse or a boyfriend / girlfriend. It can also apply to the extreme love you have for your children or a parent, and maybe a really good friend.
See Also: I Love You
一帆風順 is just what you think it means. It suggests that you are on a trouble-free voyage through life, or literally on a sailing ship or sail boat. It is often used in China as a wish for good luck on a voyage or as you set out on a new quest or career in your life. Some may use this in lieu of "bon voyage."
The literal meaning is roughly, "Once you raise your sail, you will get the wind you need, and it will take you where you want to go." Another way to translate it is "Your sail and the wind follow your will."
一帆風順 is a great gift for a mariner, sailor, adventurer, or someone starting a new career.
Note: Can be understood in Korean Hanja but rarely used.
Kindness is showing you care, doing some good to make life better for others. Be thoughtful about people's needs. Show love and compassion to someone who is sad or needs your help. When you are tempted to be cruel, to criticize or tease, decide to be kind instead.
This Chinese / Japanese / Korean word can also mean affectionate, cordial, warmly, or close (emotionally).
信義 is a word that is often used to describe a person with an honest and loyal reputation. To put it simply, this applies to somebody you can trust (with your life).
In Chinese, this is often defined as good faith, honor, trust, and justice.
In Korean, this word means fidelity, truthfulness, or faithfulness.
In Japanese: faith, fidelity and loyalty. It's also a Japanese male given name when pronounced "Nobuyoshi."
宿業 is the Buddhist concept of Past Karma. To put it simply, it's the sum of all the good and bad from all previous lives (and perhaps earlier in your current life). This term is not commonly used outside of the Buddhist faith (you'll have a tough time finding a non-Buddhist Asian person that knows this word).
Other ways to translate this: "The karma of previous existence," "The karma remaining from prior existences," or simply "Former karma."
See Also: Buddhism
This an alternate way to say best friend in Chinese.
The first character can mean "most," "extreme" or "best." The second character means "making friends" or "building friendship." There's sort of a suggestion with the second character that fate caused you to intersect in life and become friends (that character can mean intersection in some context).
This can also mean "most intimate friend," "very good friend of long standing," or "closest friend."
This Chinese character means to read. It can also refer to observing (the world, and learning from it), or gaining life experiences. 閱 is a good character to relay the idea of being "well read," which can include reading books, studying, and learning through experience.
The dictionary definition also includes: to inspect; to review; to peruse; to go through; to experience.
Technically, this is also a Japanese Kanji but it only used by some Japanese Buddhists (most of the population will not recognize it).
In both Chinese and Japanese Buddhism, this means: Examine, inspect, look over.
This literally translates as: Without having experienced the cold of winter, one cannot appreciate the warmth of spring.
Figuratively, this means: One cannot truly appreciate happiness without having gone through hardship.
There are many contrasts in life. One simply cannot fully know what joy is without having experienced misery, difficulty, and pain. How could you explain "light" if you did not have "darkness" to compare it to?
Embrace hardship, as it makes the good times seem even better.
Any woman with affection for Asian art and you will love a gift of this Chinese proverb calligraphy on a wall scroll. She will melt in your arms as you tell her the meaning of these characters.
Contained in this phrase is a reference to the most beautiful woman in Chinese history. Her name was Xi Shi, and she was known to have good looks that need not fine robes or make up. Her charms were so powerful that she brought down an entire kingdom (in a successful effort to bring honor and pride back to her people).
This is a great way to express that the woman in your life is your one love.
This Chinese proverb implies that having great ambitions also means that others will not understand your great expectations and ideas.
Though the actual words come from a longer saying of Confucius which goes, "The little swallows living under the eaves wouldn't understand the lofty ambitions of a swan (who flies far and wide)."
This Confucius quote has led to this idiomatic expression in China that means "think big." What you'd really be saying is "The lofty ambitions of a swan."
Note that Chinese people sometimes refer to the little swallow, as one who does not "think big" but is, instead, stuck in a rut, or just leading a mundane life. Therefore, it's a compliment to be called a swan but not a good thing to be called a swallow.
This Chinese proverb means "Be undaunted in the face of repeated setbacks." More directly-translated, it reads, "[Overcome] a hundred setbacks, without flinching." 百折不撓 is of Chinese origin but is commonly used in Japanese, and somewhat in Korean (same characters, different pronunciation).
This proverb comes from a long, and occasionally tragic story of a man that lived sometime around 25-220 AD. His name was Qiao Xuan and he never stooped to flattery but remained an upright person at all times. He fought to expose corruption of higher-level government officials at great risk to himself.
Then when he was at a higher level in the Imperial Court, bandits were regularly capturing hostages and demanding ransoms. But when his own son was captured, he was so focused on his duty to the Emperor and common good that he sent a platoon of soldiers to raid the bandits' hideout, and stop them once and for all even at the risk of his own son's life. While all of the bandits were arrested in the raid, they killed Qiao Xuan's son at first sight of the raiding soldiers.
Near the end of his career a new Emperor came to power, and Qiao Xuan reported to him that one of his ministers was bullying the people and extorting money from them. The new Emperor refused to listen to Qiao Xuan and even promoted the corrupt Minister. Qiao Xuan was so disgusted that in protest he resigned his post as minister (something almost never done) and left for his home village.
His tombstone reads "Bai Zhe Bu Nao" which is now a proverb used in Chinese culture to describe a person of strength will who puts up stubborn resistance against great odds.
My Chinese-English dictionary defines these 4 characters as, "keep on fighting in spite of all setbacks," "be undaunted by repeated setbacks" and "be indomitable."
Our translator says it can mean, "never give up" in modern Chinese.
Although the first two characters are translated correctly as "repeated setbacks," the literal meaning is "100 setbacks" or "a rope that breaks 100 times." The last two characters can mean "do not yield" or "do not give up."
Most Chinese, Japanese, and Korean people will not take this absolutely literal meaning but will instead understand it as the title suggests above. If you want a single big word definition, it would be indefatigability, indomitableness, persistence, or unyielding.
In China, this proverb is used in response to a good joke or witty comment.
The story goes that Mr. Feng and Mr. He were both senior officials in the Song Dynasty (about a thousand years ago). One day, Mr. Feng walked into their shared office wearing a new pair of boots. The boots caught the eye of Mr. He who said, "New boots! - how much were they?." Mr. Feng lifted one of the boots off the ground as if to show it off and responded, "900 coins."
Astonished, Mr. Feng explained, "900? How can that be? - I paid 1800 coins for my boots!." Mr. Feng then lifted his other foot off the ground and said, "This boot was also 900 coins."
It is said that the whole room was shaking from the laughter of all that heard Mr. Feng's joke on Mr. He.
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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...
|Title||Characters||Romaji(Romanized Japanese)||Various forms of Romanized Chinese|
|The Good Life|
|美好的生活||měi hǎo de shēng huó|
mei3 hao3 de sheng1 huo2
mei hao de sheng huo
|mei hao te sheng huo
|Life is Good|
Life is Beautiful
|人生は素晴らしい||jinsei wa subarashii |
jinsei wa subarashi
|Life is Good|
Life is Beautiful
|生活美好||shēng huó měi hǎo|
sheng1 huo2 mei3 hao3
sheng huo mei hao
|Life is Good||人生良好||jin sei ryou kou|
jin sei ryo ko
|rén shēng liáng hǎo|
ren2 sheng1 liang2 hao3
ren sheng liang hao
|jen sheng liang hao
|Life is Good||生活是美好的||shēng huó shì měi hǎo de|
sheng1 huo2 shi4 mei3 hao3 de
sheng huo shi mei hao de
|sheng huo shih mei hao te
Life in Perfect Harmony
|和美||wa mi / wami||hé měi / he2 mei3 / he mei / hemei||ho mei / homei|
|Year-In Year-Out Have Abundance||年年有餘|
|nián nián yǒu yú|
nian2 nian2 you3 yu2
nian nian you yu
|nien nien yu yü
|Work Unselfishly for the Common Good||克己奉公||kè jǐ fèng gōng|
ke4 ji3 feng4 gong1
ke ji feng gong
|k`o chi feng kung
ko chi feng kung
Long Life Wishes
|nan zan no jyu|
|xuǎn zé shēng huó|
xuan3 ze2 sheng1 huo2
xuan ze sheng huo
|hsüan tse sheng huo
Long Life Wishes
|fú rú dōng hǎi shòu bǐ nán shān|
fu2 ru2 dong1 hai3 shou4 bi3 nan2 shan1
fu ru dong hai shou bi nan shan
|fu ju tung hai shou pi nan shan
|líng hún bàn lǚ|
ling2 hun2 ban4 lv3
ling hun ban lv
|ling hun pan lü
|Live Laugh Love||笑愛生活|
|xiào ài shēng huó|
xiao4 ai4 sheng1 huo2
xiao ai sheng huo
|hsiao ai sheng huo
|Vitality||生命力||seimeiryoku||shēng mìng lì|
sheng1 ming4 li4
sheng ming li
|命||inochi / mei||mìng / ming4 / ming|
|Death with Dignity||尊厳死||son gen shi|
|100 Years of Happy Marriage||百年好合||bǎi nián hǎo hé|
bai3 nian2 hao3 he2
bai nian hao he
|pai nien hao ho
|lǐ mào / li3 mao4 / li mao / limao|
|兔||usagi||tù / tu4 / tu||t`u / tu|
Most Sincere Love
|zhì ài / zhi4 ai4 / zhi ai / zhiai||chih ai / chihai|
Most Sincere Love
|yī fán fēng shùn|
yi1 fan2 feng1 shun4
yi fan feng shun
|i fan feng shun
|shin setsu / shinsetsu||qīn qiè / qin1 qie4 / qin qie / qinqie||ch`in ch`ieh / chinchieh / chin chieh|
|shingi||xìn yì / xin4 yi4 / xin yi / xinyi||hsin i / hsini|
|Karma (of your past lives)||宿業|
|shukugou / shukugo||sù yè / su4 ye4 / su ye / suye||su yeh / suyeh|
|Best Friends||至交||zhì jiāo / zhi4 jiao1 / zhi jiao / zhijiao||chih chiao / chihchiao|
|yuè / yue4 / yue||yüeh|
|You must endure a harsh winter|
to appreciate the warmth of springtime
|bù jīng dōng hán bù zhī chūn nuǎn|
bu4 jing1 dong1 han2 bu4 zhi1 chun1 nuan3
bu jing dong han bu zhi chun nuan
|pu ching tung han pu chih ch`un nuan
pu ching tung han pu chih chun nuan
|You are always a beauty in your lover’s eyes||情人眼里出西施||qíng rén yǎn lǐ chū xī shī|
qing2 ren2 yan3 li3 chu1 xi1 shi1
qing ren yan li chu xi shi
|ch`ing jen yen li ch`u hsi shih
ching jen yen li chu hsi shih
|hóng hú zhī zhì|
hong2 hu2 zhi1 zhi4
hong hu zhi zhi
|hung hu chih chih
|Undaunted After Repeated Setbacks||百折不撓|
|hyaku setsu su tou|
hyaku setsu su to
|bǎi zhé bù náo|
bai3 zhe2 bu4 nao2
bai zhe bu nao
|pai che pu nao
|The Whole Room Rocks With Laughter||哄堂大笑||hōng tāng dà xiào|
hong1 tang1 da4 xiao4
hong tang da xiao
|hung t`ang ta hsiao
hung tang ta hsiao
|In some entries above you will see that characters have different versions above and below a line.|
In these cases, the characters above the line are Traditional Chinese, while the ones below are Simplified Chinese.
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All of our calligraphy wall scrolls are handmade.
When the calligrapher finishes creating your artwork, it is taken to my art mounting workshop in Beijing where a wall scroll is made by hand from a combination of silk, rice paper, and wood.
After we create your wall scroll, it takes at least two weeks for air mail delivery from Beijing to you.
Allow a few weeks for delivery. Rush service speeds it up by a week or two for $10!
When you select your calligraphy, you'll be taken to another page where you can choose various custom options.
The wall scroll that Sandy is holding in this picture is a "large size"
single-character wall scroll.
We also offer custom wall scrolls in small, medium, and an even-larger jumbo size.
Professional calligraphers are getting to be hard to find these days.
Instead of drawing characters by hand, the new generation in China merely type roman letters into their computer keyboards and pick the character that they want from a list that pops up.
There is some fear that true Chinese calligraphy may become a lost art in the coming years. Many art institutes in China are now promoting calligraphy programs in hopes of keeping this unique form of art alive.
Even with the teachings of a top-ranked calligrapher in China, my calligraphy will never be good enough to sell. I will leave that to the experts.
The same calligrapher who gave me those lessons also attracted a crowd of thousands and a TV crew as he created characters over 6-feet high. He happens to be ranked as one of the top 100 calligraphers in all of China. He is also one of very few that would actually attempt such a feat.
Check out my lists of Japanese Kanji Calligraphy Wall Scrolls and Old Korean Hanja Calligraphy Wall Scrolls.
Some people may refer to this entry as The Good Life Kanji, The Good Life Characters, The Good Life in Mandarin Chinese, The Good Life Characters, The Good Life in Chinese Writing, The Good Life in Japanese Writing, The Good Life in Asian Writing, The Good Life Ideograms, Chinese The Good Life symbols, The Good Life Hieroglyphics, The Good Life Glyphs, The Good Life in Chinese Letters, The Good Life Hanzi, The Good Life in Japanese Kanji, The Good Life Pictograms, The Good Life in the Chinese Written-Language, or The Good Life in the Japanese Written-Language.
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