Boat in Chinese / Japanese...

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  1. The incompetent boat pilot blames the river for his shortcomings

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

  3. Not Only Can Water Float A Boat, It Can Sink It Also

  4. Ark

  5. Speed

  6. Regardless of the Weather, We Overcome Troubles Together

  7. Smooth Sailing


The incompetent boat pilot blames the river for his shortcomings

bù huì chēng chuán lài hé wān
The incompetent boat pilot blames the river for his shortcomings Scroll

This literally translates as: [One who] cannot steer the boat blames the bends in the river.

Figuratively, this means: One who is incompetent always tries to shift the blame elsewhere.
This is similar to the English idiom, "a poor workman/craftsman blames his tools".

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

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

刻舟求劍 is an originally-Chinese proverb which serves as 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Thus, you must take that into account, and not depend on the old ways, or a way that may have worked in the past but is no longer valid.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.

Not Only Can Water Float A Boat, It Can Sink It Also

shuǐ néng zài zhōu yì néng fù zhōu
Not Only Can Water Float A Boat, It Can Sink It Also Scroll

Many things have opposite properties. The water you drink can also drown you. Pork may nourish you and keep you alive but under-cook it and it could kill you. Potassium nitrate is often used as a fertilizer to grow the food that sustains us but it's also been used as an explosive to topple buildings and destroy us.

This concept is easily associated with "yin yang" where an element has two opposite properties that are as different as night and day.

This proverb's meaning can be summed up this way: "Anything that can lead you to success may also contain great risks".

This phrase is known in literary circles by Korean people (scholars or literature). It is therefore also a valid proverb in Korean Hanja, though most Koreans would not be able to make sense of it.

Please note that there is an unwritten rule when the same character appears twice in the same phrase, the calligrapher will alter the appearance so that no two characters are exactly alike in the same piece. This calligraphy has two repeating characters that will be written differently than they appear here.

fāng zhōu
hakobune
Ark Scroll

方舟 is the Chinese, Japanese, and old Korean name for an ark (as in Noah's Ark).

The literal translation is the square boat.

gāo sù
kousoku
Speed Scroll

高速 means "high speed" or "in high gear" in Chinese and Japanese Kanji.

In old Korean Hanja, it also means "high speed" but can also be a nickname for "rapid transit".

高速 is the best selection if you want to say "speed" in regards to your race car, race boat, or lifestyle. You need this word, which literally means "high speed", as the Asian word for "speed" alone does not suggest whether you mean fast or slow.

Regardless of the Weather, We Overcome Troubles Together

fēng yǔ wú zǔ tóng zhōu gòng jì
Regardless of the Weather, We Overcome Troubles Together Scroll

The first four characters are often translated as, "Go ahead as planned regardless of the weather" or, "[Overcome] despite the rain and wind". The last four characters can mean, "Stick together" but literally means "Take the same boat [together]".

This Chinese proverb suggests that you are willing (or should be willing) to overcome any adversity, and accomplish your task at hand. The second part (last four characters) is sometimes left off but this second part strongly suggests that you should overcome that adversity together.

Smooth Sailing

yī fán fēng shùn
Smooth Sailing 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




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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 incompetent boat pilot blames the river for his shortcomings不會撐船賴河灣
不会撑船赖河湾
bù huì chēng chuán lài hé wān
bu4 hui4 cheng1 chuan2 lai4 he2 wan1
bu hui cheng chuan lai he wan
buhuichengchuanlaihewan
pu hui ch`eng ch`uan lai ho wan
puhuichengchuanlaihowan
pu hui cheng chuan lai ho wan
Mark the boat to find the lost sword
Ignoring the changing circumstances of the world
刻舟求劍
刻舟求剑
kokushuukyuuken
kokushukyuken
kè zhōu qiú jiàn
ke4 zhou1 qiu2 jian4
ke zhou qiu jian
kezhouqiujian
k`o chou ch`iu chien
kochouchiuchien
ko chou chiu chien
Not Only Can Water Float A Boat, It Can Sink It Also水能載舟亦能覆舟
水能载舟亦能覆舟
shuǐ néng zài zhōu yì néng fù zhōu
shui3 neng2 zai4 zhou1 yi4 neng2 fu4 zhou1
shui neng zai zhou yi neng fu zhou
shui neng tsai chou i neng fu chou
Ark方舟hakobunefāng zhōu
fang1 zhou1
fang zhou
fangzhou
fang chou
fangchou
Speed高速kousoku / kosokugāo sù / gao1 su4 / gao su / gaosukao su / kaosu
Regardless of the Weather, We Overcome Troubles Together風雨無阻同舟共濟
风雨无阻同舟共济
fēng yǔ wú zǔ tóng zhōu gòng jì
feng1 yu3 wu2 zu3 tong2 zhou1 gong4 ji4
feng yu wu zu tong zhou gong ji
fengyuwuzutongzhougongji
feng yü wu tsu t`ung chou kung chi
feng yü wu tsu tung chou kung chi
Smooth Sailing一帆風順
一帆风顺
yī fán fēng shùn
yi1 fan2 feng1 shun4
yi fan feng shun
yifanfengshun
i fan feng shun
ifanfengshun
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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Smooth Sailing Scroll
Smooth Sailing Scroll
Smooth Sailing Scroll
Smooth Sailing Scroll


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Smooth Sailing Vertical Portrait
Dictionary

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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.


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

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