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Your Chinese / Japanese Calligraphy Search for "The Great Wall of China"...

Quick links to words on this page...

  1. The Great Wall of China
  2. Great Aspirations / Ambition
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Woman Hero / Heroine
  5. Gassho
  6. Dignity / Honor / Sanctity / Integrity
  7. Bonsai / Penzai
  8. Giant Panda
  9. Prosperous Business
10. Confucius
11. Legendary Turtle
12. Katana
13. Kai Zen / Kaizen
14. Kansei Engineering...
15. Phoenix Rise from the Ashes
16. Beauty Shop / Beauty Salon
17. Mark the boat to find the lost sword...
18. Smooth Sailing
19. Kung Fu / Gong Fu
20. A sly rabbit has three openings to its den
21. Sword
22. Confucius: Golden Rule / Ethic of Reciprocity
23. Kirin / Giraffe / Mythical Creature
24. An Open Book Benefits Your Mind
25. Banzai / Wansui
26. Banzai
27. Work Unselfishly for the Common Good
28. The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100
29. Broken Mirror Rejoined
30. Better Late Than Never


The Great Wall of China

Japan ban ri no chou jyou
The Great Wall of China Wall Scroll

萬裡の長城 is the Japanese name for the Great Wall of China.

The Great Wall of China

China cháng chéng
Japan nagaki
The Great Wall of China Wall Scroll

長城 is the Chinese name for the Great Wall. Built at the northern border of China to protect from Mongol attack.


Notes:
In Japanese, this is a surname Nagaki. Japanese use a longer title for the Great Wall of China.
In Korean, this refers to Changsŏng (a city in Changsŏng-kun county, Chŏllanam-to province).

Great Aspirations / Ambition

China hóng hú zhī zhì
Great Aspirations / Ambition Wall Scroll

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.

Hong Kong

China xiāng gǎng
HK hoeng1 gong2
Japan hon kon
Hong Kong Wall Scroll

香港 is the Chinese and Japanese name for the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of The Peoples Republic of China known as Hong Kong (formerly a British administrated territory).

The romanization "Hong Kong" is probably a British approximation of the Cantonese pronunciation for this land.


See Also:  Great Britain | China | Macao | Taiwan | Singapore | Japan | Vietnam | Korea | Asia

Woman Hero / Heroine

China jīn guó yīng xióng
Woman Hero / Heroine Wall Scroll

巾幗英雄 is a cool and somewhat ancient way to say woman hero in Chinese. This word is used in modern times to refer to an outstanding woman or a woman with great accomplishments.

In the old days, it was a title for a woman warrior (oh, did I mention that there were great female generals who led huge armies into battle in ancient China?)

Gassho

China hé zhǎng
Japan gasshou
Gassho Wall Scroll

合掌 is the act of greeting someone (can also be done when departing) with hands brought together in a prayerful manner.

In India, this would be accompanied by the verbal greeting and blessing of "Namaste." In China, Japan, and Korea, this is how Buddhists will greet each other. Sometimes done by people who are not devout Buddhists in China, Japan, and Korea to show respect, reverence or great thanks to someone for a gift, forgiveness, or some honor that has been bestowed.

In Japan, this is almost always associated with a deep bow. In China where bowing is not an everyday occurrence, there may be a shallow bow but the act will be done with deep feeling. Korean culture seems to have more bowing than China but less than Japan.


See Also:  Namaste

Dignity / Honor / Sanctity / Integrity

China zūn yán
Japan son gen
Dignity / Honor / Sanctity / Integrity Wall Scroll

This form of honor is showing great respect for yourself, other people, and the rules you live by.

When you are honorable, you keep your word. You do the right thing regardless of what others are doing.

尊嚴 is the kind of personal honor or dignity that is of great value. If you lose this, you have lost yourself and perhaps the reputation of your family as well.

While this is not directly the same thing as "face" or "saving face" in Asian culture, it is associated with the same concept in China.


厳In Japan, they currently use a more simplified second character for this word. The ancient Japanese form is the same as China but after WWII some Kanji were changed. If you want the modern Japanese version, just click on the Kanji image shown to the right, instead of the button above.

Bonsai / Penzai

Dwarf Tree Culture
China pén zāi
Japan bon sai
Bonsai / Penzai Wall Scroll

盆栽 is the word that refers to the culture, hobby and to the miniature trees themselves that have become popular around the world. Like many things, this art migrated from China to Japan some time ago but we tend to associate it with Japanese culture and even use the Japanese word in English.

Granted, in present day, this hobby seems to be more popular in Japan but still has a great following in China and even a little in Korea as well.

Note: Many people confuse the title of the bonsai tree with "banzai" which is a form of "hooray" in Japanese. I have also seen it misspelled as "bansai." The correct Romanization (Romaji) is "bonsai."

Giant Panda

China dà xióng māo
Giant Panda Wall Scroll

大熊貓 is how to write "giant panda" in Chinese. 大熊貓 is specific to the "giant panda" which has black and white fur. Not to be confused with other types of smaller pandas in China.

The literal meaning of these characters is "great/big bear cat." Chinese do, in fact, think of pandas as "cat-like bears."


Note: In Japanese, they only express Giant Panda in Katakana, which is ジャイアント パンダ” (Jaianto Panda). So we have not included that for wall scroll orders.

Prosperous Business

China xīng lóng
Japan kou ryuu
Prosperous Business Wall Scroll

This kind of prosperity applies to a business. Something great to hang behind your desk if you are a small or large business owner. Doing so says that you either are a successful business, or you wish success and prosperity for your business.

Can also be translated as thriving, flourishing, brisk business, and other words related to prosperity in business.

A good meaning in China but a little antiquated in Japanese.


See Also:  Prosperity

Confucius

China kǒng zǐ
Japan koushi
Confucius Wall Scroll

孔子 is how to write the name of the great sage, known in the west as Confucius. His real name is Kongzi (The name Confucius is a westernized version of his name - his family name is Kong, and "zi" was added as a title of distinction). He lived some 2500 years ago in Qufu, a town in modern-day Shandong Province of Northern China (about 6 hours south of Beijing by bus). He was a consort to Emperors, and after his death, the impact of his philosophies still served to advise emperors, officials, and common people for generations. Also during these thousands of years, the Kong family remained powerful in China, and the Kong estate was much like the Vatican in Rome. The Kong estate existed as if on sovereign ground with its own small garrison of guards and privileges of a kingdom within an empire.

This was true up until the time the Kong family had to flee to Taiwan in 1949 when the Red Army took victory over the Nationalists during the Revolution. The home of Confucius was later razed and all statues defaced or stolen during the Cultural Revolution. Finally, after years of smearing his name and image, it is once again okay to celebrate the teachings of Confucius in mainland China.

Legendary Turtle

China áo
Legendary Turtle Wall Scroll

鼇 means "legendary turtle" in Chinese. 鼇 is a great mythological turtle that travels the seas. The creature is comparable to the dragon of China, however, it so happens that dragons became a bit more famous as history progressed. In modern Chinese, this character can just refer to a large sea turtle.

Note: This character can be pronounced in Korean but this is a very rare Korean Hanja form - it hasn't been used in Korea for at least a few hundred years (even before they switched to Hangul characters).

Katana

Japanese Samurai Sword
China dāo
Japan katana
Katana Wall Scroll

刀 is the Japanese Kanji for "sword." This refers to the style of sword carried by warriors, samurai, and shogun of ancient Japan.

With the pacification of Japan, such swords are now only used for ceremony and decoration. The true art of sword-smithing is all but lost in Japan with new sword production dedicated to making inexpensive replicas for the tourist and foreign market.

For those of you that want to ask whether I can get you a real antique sword. Let me tell you that most real Asian swords were melted down after WWII in Japan, and during the Great Leap Forward in China. Any remaining swords are family heirlooms that nobody will part with.

Please carefully note that the Japanese kanji character shown above is only for a Japanese audience. In China, this character means "knife." See our other entry for "sword" in Chinese.
Note: This can mean knife, sword, or blade in Korean, depending on context.


See Also:  Sword

Kai Zen / Kaizen

China gǎi shàn
Japan kai zen
Kai Zen / Kaizen Wall Scroll

改善 means betterment, improvement, to make better, or to improve - specifically incremental and continuous improvement.

This word became very important in post-war Japan when Edwards Deming came to Japan to teach concepts of incremental and continuous improvement (for which the big 3 auto-makers did not want to hear about at the time - even kicking Deming out of their offices). The Japanese workforce absorbed this concept at a time with their culture was in flux and primed for change.

This kaizen term is closely associated with the western title "Total Quality Management." Perhaps dear to my heart since I spent years studying this at university before I moved to China where TQM did not seem to exist. Slowly, this concept has entered China as well (I've actually given lectures on the subject in Beijing).

If you are trying to improve processes at your business or need to remind yourself of your continuous TQM goals, this would be a great wall scroll to hang behind your desk, or in your workplace.


See Also:  Kansei

Kansei Engineering
Sense Engineering

China gǎn xìng gōng xué
Japan kansei kougaku
Kansei Engineering / Sense Engineering Wall Scroll

In short, kansei engineering involves collecting data on human experiences with a product, and then designing or engineering improvements based on those experiences or "senses." Some may define this as "engineering around the human experience."

There is a lot more to know about kansei but if you are looking for this word, you probably already know the big picture.

Note: This term is very new in China, and only used by businesses, factories, and engineers that are implementing TQM principles. While the characters have the same base meaning in both languages, this is really a Japanese title that is flowing back into the Chinese language (in history, most things flowed from China to Japan). To a Chinese person that is not familiar with this concept, they may interpret this as "sense vocational studies," which doesn't make much sense. You may have to explain the intended meaning to some Chinese viewers. But that can make it a great conversation piece.

感性工學 is also a newer term in Korean, and is only used in certain parts of industry, with the definition of "Sensory Engineering." Not yet in widespread use in Korea.


See Also:  Kaizen

Phoenix Rise from the Ashes

China fèng huáng niè pán
Phoenix Rise from the Ashes Wall Scroll

This proverb suggests "Legendary Phoenix rises from the ashes." Literally, it means, "Legendary Phoenix [reaches] Nirvana."

There is a legend in China of a great bird which is reborn once every 500 years. This bird gathers all the ill-will, suffering, desire, and other negative things of the whole world. The bird then plunges into the fire to burn away all negative things, sacrificing itself in the process (achieving Nirvana, or perhaps allowing others the opportunity to reach Nirvana).

500 years later, the phoenix is reborn from the ashes again, and the cycle repeats.

Beauty Shop / Beauty Salon

China měi róng diàn
Beauty Shop / Beauty Salon Wall Scroll

美容店 is how to write "Beauty Shop" or "Beauty Salon." If you own such a business, this would make a nice wall scroll to hang up - and many of your Asian customers will be able to read and appreciate it. When traveling in China, you will see signs like this in the window of any place that offers full services of hair styling, manicures, pedicures, and often shampoo with head and back massage.

However, as a handmade wall scroll, this becomes a very fancy piece of artwork that shows the high class of your business (a great sign for your window, if you don't get direct sunlight).

Mark the boat to find the lost sword
Ignoring the changing circumstances of the world

China kè zhōu qiú jiàn
Japan kokushuukyuuken
Mark the boat to find the lost sword / Ignoring the changing circumstances of the world Wall Scroll

This originally-Chinese proverb is a warning to people that things are always in a state of change. Thus, you must take that into account, and not depend on the old ways, or a way that may have worked in the past but is no longer valid.

This idiom/proverb comes from the following story:
A man was traveling in a ferry boat across a river. With him, he carried a valuable and treasured sword. Along the way, the man became overwhelmed and intoxicated by the beautiful view, and accidentally dropped his prized sword into the river. Thinking quickly, he pulled out a knife, and marked on the rail of the boat where exactly he has lost his sword.

When the boat arrived on the other side of the river, the man jumped out of the boat and searched for his sword right under where he'd made the mark. Of course, the boat had moved a great distance since he made the mark, and thus, he could not find the sword.

While this man may seem foolhardy, we have to take a great lesson from this parable: Circumstances change, so one should use methods that can handle the change. In modern China, this is used in business to mean that one should not depend on old business models for a changing market.


This proverb dates back to the Spring and Autumn period (770–476 BC) of the territory now known as China. It has spread and is somewhat known in Japan and Korea.

Smooth Sailing

China yī fán fēng shùn
Smooth Sailing Wall Scroll

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.


See Also:  Bon Voyage | Adventure | Travel

Kung Fu / Gong Fu

China gōng fu
HK gung fu
Japan kan fu / ku fu
Kung Fu / Gong Fu Wall Scroll

One of the most famous types of martial arts in the world - and not just because of Bruce Lee.

Some translate the meaning as "Accomplishment by Great Effort." I think this is partially true but directly translated it literally means "Merit/Achievement/Accomplishment Man." The word "fu" can sometimes mean "husband" or "porter" but in this case, it can only mean "man." However, few in China will think "man" when they hear the word "Gong Fu" spoken.

This term is also used for things other than martial arts. In fact, it's used to refer to a person with excellent skills in crafts that require a great deal of effort such as cooking, tea ceremonies, and calligraphy.

What a lot of people don't know is that the spelling of "Kung Fu" was actually taken from the old Wade Giles form of Romanization. Using this method, the sounds of the English "G" and "K" were both written as "K" and an apostrophe after the "K" told you it was supposed to sound like a "G." Nobody in the west knew this rule, so most people pronounce it with a "K-sound." And so Gong Fu will always be Kung Fu for most westerners.

Also, just to educate you a little more, the "O" in "Gong" has a sound like the English word "oh."

The popular Chinese dish "Kung Pao Chicken" suffers from the same problem. It should actually be "Gong Bao Chicken."

Historical note: Many will claim that Kung Fu was invented by the monks of the Shaolin monastery. This fact is argued in both directions by scholars of Chinese history. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that the Shaolin Monks brought the original fame to Kung Fu many generations ago.


Japanese note: While most Japanese martial artists will recognize these characters, Katakana is more often used to approximate the pronunciation of "Kung Fu" with "カンフー." Some will argue as to whether this should be considered a Japanese word at all.


See Also:  Bruce Lee

A sly rabbit has three openings to its den

-or- The crafty rabbit has three different entrances to its lair
China jiǎo tù sān kū
A sly rabbit has three openings to its den Wall Scroll

This speaks to the cunning character of a sly rabbit. Such a rabbit will not have just one hole but rather a few entrances and exits from his liar.

About 2,250 years ago a very rich man told his assistant to go and buy something wonderful that he did not yet posses. He was a man that already had everything, so the assistant went to a local village that owed a great deal of money to the rich man. The assistant told the village elders that all debts were forgiven. All the villagers rejoiced and praised the rich man's name. The assistant returned to the rich man and told him he had purchased "benevolence" for him. The rich man was mildly amused but perhaps a bit confused by the action.

Some time later, the rich man fell from the favor of the Emperor, and was wiped out without a penny to his name. One day he was walking aimlessly and stumbled into the village in which the debts had been forgiven. The villagers recognized the man and welcomed him with open arms, clothed, fed, and gave him a place to live.

Without trying, the man had become like the sly and cunning rabbit. When his exit was blocked, he had another hole to emerge from - and was reborn. This story and idiom comes from a book titled "The Amendment" - it's unclear whether this man actually existed or not. But the book did propel this idiom into common use in China.

Still today this idiom about the rabbit is used in China when suggesting "backup plans" alternate methods, and anyone with a good escape plan.

Sword

China jiàn
Japan ken / tsurugi
Sword Wall Scroll

This Character is pronounced "jian" in Chinese. When you say it, imagine that you are making the sound of a sword as it clashes with a metal shield. This might get you closer to the correct pronunciation in Chinese.

I actually wonder if this word came from the metallic ringing sounds of a sword in battle - but such knowledge is lost in history.

The sword is a symbol of a warrior. The one thing that a soldier in ancient China lived and died by. A warrior with his skills and sword proves himself of great value. A warrior who losses his sword instantly becomes worthless.

劍 is an excellent scroll for someone in the military (especially officers of all services - as well as enlisted NCO Marines since they still carry swords even if mainly for ceremonial purposes). Or perhaps someone who practices variations of kung fu or tai chi that involve weapons.

Please note that while this character is understood with the sword meaning in Japanese, you might be looking for the word "katana" which also means sword in Japanese but means "knife" in Chinese.


There are other ways to write sword, and here are a few...
Common Japanese and rare Chinese traditional form of sword Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese This one kind of means golden sword in Chinese Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Common Japanese and rare Chinese traditional form of sword Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese This one kind of means golden sword in Chinese Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Common Japanese and rare Chinese traditional form of sword Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese This one kind of means golden sword in Chinese Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Common Japanese and rare Chinese traditional form of sword Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese This one kind of means golden sword in Chinese Typical traditional form of sword in Chinese Common Japanese and rare Chinese traditional form of sword Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese Old/Alternative way to write sword in Chinese This one kind of means golden sword in Chinese
If you are particular about the version you receive, please let me know when you place your order (Note: Special styles are only available from one of our master calligraphers).

We have a forum entry that addresses the many ways to write sword. You can find that here: 100 Ways to Write Sword - Deciphering Ancient Seal Script

Confucius: Golden Rule / Ethic of Reciprocity

Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself
China jǐ suǒ bú yù wù shī yú rén
Confucius: Golden Rule / Ethic of Reciprocity Wall Scroll

Some may think of this as a "Christian trait" but actually it transcends many religions.

This Chinese teaching dates back to about 2,500 years ago in China. Confucius had always taught the belief in being benevolent (ren) but this idea was hard to grasp for some of his students, as benevolence could be kind-heartedness, or an essence of humanity itself.

When answering Zhong Gong's question as to what "ren" actually meant, Confucius said:

"When you go out, you should behave as if you were in the presence of a distinguished guest, when people do favors for you, act as if a great sacrifice was made for you. Whatever you wouldn't like done to you, do not do that thing to others. Don't complain at work or at home."

Hearing this, Zhong Gong said humbly, "Although I am not clever, I will do what you say."

From this encounter, the Chinese version of the "Golden Rule" or "Ethic of Reciprocity" came to be.
The characters you see above express, "Do not do to others whatever you do not want done to yourself."


See Also:  Confucius Teachings | Benevolence

Kirin / Giraffe / Mythical Creature

China qí lǐn
HK keilun
Japan kirin
Kirin / Giraffe / Mythical Creature Wall Scroll

This word is the title of a mythical beast of Asia.

The animal is thought to be related to the giraffe, and in some ways, it is a giraffe. However, it is often depicted with the horns of a dragon or deer and sometimes with the body like a horse but many variations exist.

In Japanese it is pronounced “Kirin” as in “Kirin Ichiban” beer.

Kirin - Mythical Beast and Great Japanese Beer!
Notes:

1. 麒麟 is sometimes spelled as “kylin”.

2. In Japanese, this is the only Kanji word for giraffe. Therefore in Japan, this word needs context to know whether you are talking about the mythical creature or the long-necked giraffe of Africa.

3. Apparently, this was the first word used for regular giraffes in China (some were brought from Africa to China during the Ming Dynasty - probably around the year 1400). Though the mythical creature may have existed before, the name “qilin” was given to the “new giraffe”. 麒麟 is because, more than 600 years ago, giraffes somewhat matched the mythical creature's description when Chinese people saw them for the first time. Later, to avoid such an ambiguous title, a three-character word was devised to mean a “giraffe of Africa”. The characters for “qilin” shown here are only for the mythological version in modern Chinese.

4. More information about the qilin / kirin from Wikipedia.

5. This creature is sometimes translated as the “Chinese Unicorn”, even though it is generally portrayed with two horns. I think this is done more for the fantasy aspect of the unicorn and because most westerners don't know what a qilin or kirin is (this avoids a long explanation by the translator).

6. In Korean, this can mean kirin or simply giraffe (usually the mythological creature is what they would think of when seeing these characters alone on a wall scroll).

An Open Book Benefits Your Mind

China kāi juàn yǒu yì
An Open Book Benefits Your Mind Wall Scroll

There are several ways to translate this ancient proverb. Translated literally and directly it says, "Open roll has/yields benefit."

To understand that, you must know a few things...

First, Chinese characters and language have deeper meanings that often are not spoken but are understood - especially with ancient text like this. Example: It's understood that the "benefit" referred to in this proverb is to the mind of the reader. Just the last character expresses that whole idea.

Second, Chinese proverbs are supposed to make you think, and leave a bit of mystery to figure out.

Third, for this proverb, it should be noted that roll = book. When this proverb came about (about two thousand years ago) books were really rolls of bamboo slips strung together. The first bound books like the ones we use today did not come about until about a thousand years after this proverb when they invented paper in China.

開卷有益 is a great gift for a bookworm who loves to read and increase their knowledge. Or for any friend that is or wants to be well-read.

Some other translations of this phrase:
Opening a book is profitable
The benefits of education.

Banzai / Wansui

Old Japanese / Traditional Chinese & Korean
China wàn suì
Japan banzai / manzai
Banzai / Wansui Wall Scroll

We've made two almost identical entries for this word. 萬歲 is the traditional Chinese, Korean Hanja, and ancient Japanese way to write banzai. In modern times, the first character was simplified in Japan and China. So you might want to select the other entry for more universal readability.

While it has become a popular if not an odd thing to scream as you jump out of an airplane (preferably with a parachute attached), banzai is actually a very old Asian way to say "hooray." The Japanese word "banzai" comes from the Chinese word "wan sui" which means "The age of 10,000 years." It is actually a wish that the Emperor or the Empire live that long.

Imagine long ago as the Emperor made a rare public appearance. 萬歲 is what all of the people would yell to their leader in respect.

So if you like is as a hooray, or you want to wish someone that they live for 10,000 years, this is the calligraphy for you.

Other translations include: Cheers! (not the drinking kind), hurrah!, long live [name]!, congratulations!

To other things with banzai in their names; I am still waiting for the promised sequel to Buckaroo Banzai.

Notes: Sometimes people confuse banzai with bonsai. A bonsai is a miniature tree. They have nothing to do with each other. Further, bonzai is not a word at all - although it would make a great name for a calcium supplement for older people.

Banzai

Modern Japanese Version
China wàn suì
Japan banzai
Banzai Wall Scroll

We've made two almost identical entries for this word. 萬歲 is the modern Japanese way to write banzai. In the last century, the first character was simplified in Japan and China. The new generation will expect it to be written this way but the old generation can still read the more traditional form. You must make your own determination as to what version is best for you. If your audience is mostly Japanese, I suggest this form.

While it has become a popular if not an odd thing to scream as you jump out of an airplane (preferably with a parachute attached), banzai is actually a very old Asian way to say "hooray." The Japanese word "banzai" comes from the Chinese word "wan sui" which means "The age of 10,000 years." It is actually a wish that the Emperor or the Empire live that long.

Imagine long ago as the Emperor made a rare public appearance. 萬歲 is what all of the people would yell to their leader in respect.

So if you like is as a hooray, or you want to wish someone that they live for 10,000 years, this is the calligraphy for you.

To other things with banzai in their names; I am still waiting for the promised sequel to Buckaroo Banzai.

Other translations: hurrah, long life, congratulations, cheers, live long.

Notes: Sometimes people confuse banzai with bonsai. A bonsai is a miniature tree. They have nothing to do with each other. Further, bonzai is not a word at all - although it would make a great name for a calcium supplement for older people.

Work Unselfishly for the Common Good

China kè jǐ fèng gōng
Work Unselfishly for the Common Good Wall Scroll

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."


See Also:  Unselfish | Selflessness | Altruism

The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100

The pot calls the kettle black
China wù shí bù xiào bǎi bù
The one who retreats 50 paces mocks the one to retreats 100 Wall Scroll

During the Warring States Period of what is now China (475 - 221 B.C.), the King of Wei was in love with war. He often fought with other kingdoms just for spite or fun.

One day, the King of Wei asked the philosopher Mencius, "I love my people, and all say I do the best for them. I move the people from famine-stricken areas to places of plenty, and transport grains from rich areas to the poor. Nobody goes hungry in my kingdom, and I treat my people far better than other kings. But why does the population of my kingdom not increase, and why does the population of other kingdoms not decrease?"

Mencius answered, "Since you love war, I will make this example: When going to war, and the drums beat to start the attack, some soldiers flee for their lives in fear. Some run 100 paces in retreat, and others run 50 steps. Then the ones who retreated 50 paces laugh and taunt those who retreated 100 paces, calling them cowards mortally afraid of death. Do you think this is reasonable?

The King of Wei answered, "Of course not! Those who run 50 paces are just as timid as those who run 100 paces."

Mencius then said, "You are a king who treats his subjects better than other kings treat their people but you are so fond of war, that your people suffer from great losses in battle. Therefore, your population does not grow. While other kings allow their people to starve to death, you send your people to die in war. Is there really any difference?"

This famous conversation led to the six-character proverb shown here. It serves as a warning to avoid hypocrisy. It goes hand-in-hand with the western phrase, "The pot calls the kettle black," or the Biblical phrase, "Before trying to remove a splinter from your neighbor's eye, first remove the plank from your own eye."

Broken Mirror Rejoined

Used in modern times for divorced couples that come back together
China pò jìng chóng yuán
Broken Mirror Rejoined Wall Scroll

A husband and wife separated and reunited.

About 1500 years ago in China, there lived a beautiful princess named Le Chang. She and her husband Xu De Yan loved each other very much. But when the army of the Sui Dynasty was about to attack their kingdom, disposed of all of their worldly possessions and prepared to flee into exile.

They knew that in the chaos, they might lose track of each other, so the one possession they kept was a bronze mirror which is a symbol of unity for a husband and wife. They broke the mirror into two pieces, and each of them kept half of the mirror. They decided that if separated, they would try to meet in the fair during the 15th day of the first lunar month (which is the lantern festival). Unfortunately, the occupation was brutal, and the princess was forced to become the mistress of the new commissioner of the territory, Yang Su.

At the Lantern Festival the next year, the husband came to the fair to search for his wife. He carried with him, his half of the mirror. As he walked through the fair, he saw the other half of the mirror for sale at a junk market by a servant of the commissioner. The husband recognized his wife's half of the mirror immediately, and tears rolled down his face as he was told by the servant about the bitter and loveless life that the princess had endured.

As his tears dripped onto the mirror, the husband scratched a poem into his wife's half of the mirror:


You left me with the severed mirror,
The mirror has returned but absent are you,
As I gaze in the mirror I seek your face,
I see the moon but as for you, I see not a trace.


The servant brought the inscribed half of the mirror back to the princess. For many days, the princess could not stop crying when she found that her husband was alive and still loved her.

Commissioner Yang Su, becoming aware of this saga realized that he could never obtain the love of the princess. He sent for the husband and allowed them to reunite.

This proverb in Chinese is now used to describe a couple who has been torn apart for some reason (usually divorce) but have come back together (or remarried).
It seems to be more common these days in America for divorced couples to reconcile and get married to each other again. This would be a great gift if you know someone who is about to remarry their ex.

Better Late Than Never

It's Never Too Late Too Mend
China wáng yáng bǔ láo yóu wèi wéi wǎn
Better Late Than Never Wall Scroll

Long ago in what is now China, there were many kingdoms throughout the land. This time period is known as "The Warring States Period" by historians because these kingdoms often did not get along with each other.

Some time around 279 B.C. the Kingdom of Chu was a large but not particularly powerful kingdom. Part of the reason it lacked power was the fact that the King was surrounded by "yes men" who told him only what he wanted to hear. Many of the King’s court officials were corrupt and incompetent which did not help the situation.

The King was not blameless himself, as he started spending much of his time being entertained by his many concubines.

One of the King’s ministers, Zhuang Xin, saw problems on the horizon for the Kingdom, and warned the King, "Your Majesty, you are surrounded by people who tell you what you want to hear. They tell you things to make you happy, and cause you to ignore important state affairs. If this is allowed to continue, the Kingdom of Chu will surely perish, and fall into ruins."

This enraged the King who scolded Zhuang Xin for insulting the country and accused him of trying to create resentment among the people. Zhuang Xin explained, "I dare not curse the Kingdom of Chu but I feel that we face great danger in the future because of the current situation." The King was simply not impressed with Zhuang Xin’s words.
Seeing the King’s displeasure with him and the King’s fondness for his court of corrupt officials, Zhuang Xin asked permission of the King that he may take leave of the Kingdom of Chu, and travel to the State of Zhao to live. The King agreed, and Zhuang Xin left the Kingdom of Chu, perhaps forever.

Five months later, troops from the neighboring Kingdom of Qin invaded Chu, taking a huge tract of land. The King of Chu went into exile, and it appeared that soon, the Kingdom of Chu would no longer exist.

The King of Chu remembered the words of Zhuang Xin, and sent some of his men to find him. Immediately, Zhuang Xin returned to meet the King. The first question asked by the King was, "What can I do now?"

Zhuang Xin told the King this story:

A shepherd woke one morning to find a sheep missing. Looking at the pen saw a hole in the fence where a wolf had come through to steal one of his sheep. His friends told him that he had best fix the hole at once. But the Shepherd thought since the sheep is already gone, there is no use fixing the hole.
The next morning, another sheep was missing. And the Shepherd realized that he must mend the fence at once. Zhuang Xin then went on to make suggestions about what could be done to reclaim the land lost to the Kingdom of Qin, and reclaim the former glory and integrity in the Kingdom of Chu.

The Chinese idiom shown above came from this reply from Zhuang Xin to the King of Chu almost 2,300 years ago.
It translates roughly into English as...
"Even if you have lost some sheep, it’s never too late to mend the fence."

This proverb is often used in modern China when suggesting in a hopeful way that someone change their ways, or fix something in their life. It might be used to suggest fixing a marriage, quit smoking, or getting back on track after taking an unfortunate path in life among other things one might fix in their life.

I suppose in the same way that we might say, "Today is the first day of the rest of your life" in our western cultures to suggest that you can always start anew.

Note: This does have Korean pronunciation but is not a well-known proverb in Korean (only Koreans familiar with ancient Chinese history would know it). Best if your audience is Chinese.




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The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersRomaji(Romanized Japanese)Various forms of Romanized Chinese
The Great Wall of China 萬裡の長城
万里の長城
ban ri no chou jyou
banrinochoujyou
ban ri no cho jyo
banrinochojyo
The Great Wall of China 長城
长城
nagakicháng chéng
chang2 cheng2
chang cheng
changcheng
ch`ang ch`eng
changcheng
chang cheng
Great Aspirations
Ambition
鴻鵠之誌
鸿鹄之志
hóng hú zhī zhì
hong2 hu2 zhi1 zhi4
hong hu zhi zhi
honghuzhizhi
hung hu chih chih
hunghuchihchih
Hong Kong 香港hon kon / honkonxiāng gǎng
xiang1 gang3
xiang gang
xianggang
hsiang kang
hsiangkang
Woman Hero
Heroine
巾幗英雄
巾帼英雄
jīn guó yīng xióng
jin1 guo2 ying1 xiong2
jin guo ying xiong
jinguoyingxiong
chin kuo ying hsiung
chinkuoyinghsiung
Gassho 合掌gasshou / gashohé zhǎng / he2 zhang3 / he zhang / hezhang ho chang / hochang
Dignity
Honor
Sanctity
Integrity
尊嚴
尊严 / 尊厳
son gen / songenzūn yán / zun1 yan2 / zun yan / zunyan tsun yen / tsunyen
Bonsai
Penzai
盆栽bon sai / bonsaipén zāi / pen2 zai1 / pen zai / penzai p`en tsai / pentsai / pen tsai
Giant Panda 大熊貓
大熊猫
dà xióng māo
da4 xiong2 mao1
da xiong mao
daxiongmao
ta hsiung mao
tahsiungmao
Prosperous Business 興隆
兴隆
kou ryuu / kouryuu / ko ryu / koryuxīng lóng
xing1 long2
xing long
xinglong
hsing lung
hsinglung
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.

Successful Chinese Character and Japanese Kanji calligraphy searches within the last few hours...

Adventure
Alison
Apollo
Balance
Billy
Caleb
Calm Mind
Cassie
Cheyenne
Chloe
Clint
Colin
Courage
Dillon
Dragon
Dylan
Empty
Ethan
Family
Fire
Fire Dragon
Fist
Flower
Freedom
Friendship
Golden Dragon
Goldfish
Honor
Hope
Horse
Humble
I Miss You
Illusion
Independence
Indomitable Spirit
Inner Power
Inner Strength
Jack
Jade
Jeanine
Jesus
Jose
Juliet
Kirin
Kristin
Kyokushinkai
Life Force
Live in the Moment
Lotus Flower
Love
Mackenzie
Maddie
Monkey
Nothingness
Paladin
Peace
Power of Understanding
Priyanka
Rafael
Renee
Respect
River
Saint
Sara
Sarah
Success
Susan
Tai Chi Chuan
Three
Vermillion Dragon
Water
Wisdom

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.


A nice Chinese calligraphy wall scroll

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.

A professional Chinese Calligrapher

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.

Trying to learn Chinese calligrapher - a futile effort

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.

A high-ranked Chinese master calligrapher that I met in Zhongwei

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 Great of China Kanji, The Great of China Characters, The Great of China in Mandarin Chinese, The Great of China Characters, The Great of China in Chinese Writing, The Great of China in Japanese Writing, The Great of China in Asian Writing, The Great of China Ideograms, Chinese The Great of China symbols, The Great of China Hieroglyphics, The Great of China Glyphs, The Great of China in Chinese Letters, The Great of China Hanzi, The Great of China in Japanese Kanji, The Great of China Pictograms, The Great of China in the Chinese Written-Language, or The Great of China in the Japanese Written-Language.