Redditor EducatorMaterial9000 is Japanese and fluent in the language.
When their White friend Jason enthusiastically showed them a picture of a tattoo he got written in Japanese characters and asked a question, the response was something he did not want to hear.
The Original Poster (OP) visited the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit and asked:
“AITA for Laughing and Pointing Out the True Meaning of My Friend’s Asian Character Tattoo? He Is Very Upset.”
The OP explained:
“My friend Jason (White and doesn’t know Japanese) just got a new tattoo. He’s been looking forward to his first ever ink for a while, and did a lot of research on the price, style, and local artists.”
“He kept the design a surprise from everyone because he didn’t want any negative input before he got it on his body, permanently. I mean, maybe that was a huge misstep? Just saying.”
“Fast-forward to a few days ago, he went in for the session and told me that I’d love it (I’m Asian and fluent in Japanese). I thought maybe he was going to get a tattoo of a manga character or something.”
“He sent me a picture of his tattoo when he was done and captioned it with the question: ‘無料 Do you know what it means?’ I honestly thought it was a joke at first and replied ‘Haha you got me, that’s a good one!'”
“He called me right away and asked me in a panicked voice what I had meant. I told him the characters meant FREE, as in a free food sample.”
“He started to cry on the phone and said it’s already been a f’king hard year and I just made it even worse for him. He thought it meant FREEDOM. He hung up the phone and hasn’t answered my texts or phone calls since.”
“Well freedom 自由 isn’t even remotely close to what he got. And what’s up with these stupid tattoos anyway?”
“Just why? Can someone explain to me please? Thank you.”
“So AITA in this situation?”
The OP added a few more details to answer some common questions.
“The tattoo is above his right a** cheek. So the message is really funny.”
“It’s kind of a fail, so he’ll probably have to do a Pete Davidson and get rid of it.”
Strangers on the internet were asked to declare one of the following:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
A majority of Redditors said the OP was NTA.
“NTA. If you ask Google Translate freedom from English to Japanese it gives you 自由. I mean, I wouldn’t trust Google Translate before getting something on my body permanently but still, I’d check if whatever I was told matched on there at the very least!”
“Especially as he supposedly did a lot of research before getting it.” – pearshaped34
“He probably just googled ‘free’.”
“Google gave him the translation for free=gratis, not free=having liberty.” – TsukaiSutete1
“If you look at the characters you can see the ones OP’s friend got are more complex than the correct characters.”
“I’d be willing to bet money he saw both and assumed it was another way to write his word and looked ‘cooler’…” – Hughgurgle
“I just checked and this is true. The characters for freedom and free have the same characters in google translate.” – ketlourd
“Imagine spending months researching styles, artists etc and just throwing the word in GT, be done in two seconds.”
“When you could have just thrown it over at your friend and she’d answer in like 5 minutes. I guess time is ticking?” – Pavsters
“NTA. It’s the number one rule of getting a language you don’t speak tattooed on your body that you GET A NATIVE SPEAKER TO CHECK IT.”
“It’s his own fault for not researching it properly.” – BingandBong123
“無料 also has an implied implicit meaning of ’empty’, ‘no substance’. It is ironically accurate for Op’s friend.”
“Updated: 無料 has a double entendre meaning as ‘devoid of’. The kanji 無 means ‘no, empty’, 料means ‘materials, substance’. Together, it means ‘it doesn’t need a thing’ or ‘no substance’, which is pretty much ‘free’ as in ‘free of charge’. If you know kanji and you will understand the double entendre.”
“Just like if I say someone is an empty vase, most people will understand the metaphor. You are not going to say, ‘a person isn’t a vase. You are not making sense’.” – AlaskaNebreska
Redditors agreed Jason should have consulted with the OP about the meaning of the chosen characters before getting permanently inked, but the OP’s laughter didn’tmake him an a**hole.