Designing with Kanji


Publish Date


# of Pages



6.9 x 8.9"

Price (Print/Ebook)






Designing with Kanji

Japanese Character Motifs for Surface, Skin & Spirit


Japanese kanji characters combine meaning with beauty and thus offer a unique medium for artistic expression. But if you don’t know the language, how do you find characters that say what you want and are not just a "kanji cliché"? You can start here. 

This attractive book has over one hundred thirty kanji presented in a simple format for easy use. For example:

  • Post the kanji for kenshin on a mirror to remind you of your "devotion" to your studies.

  • Embroider bussho on a meditation cushion to help you reflect on "Buddha nature."

  • Tattoo the name Zatoichi on your upper arm as homage to your favorite blind swordsman hero.

  • Show your "love" with a card decorated by ai.

Pick from Warrior, Heart, Nature, and Spirit categories to find the characters that express your sentiments best. Each entry includes historical or etymological background, often with unusual "kanji facts." Then trace, photocopy, or even stencil the clear letterforms—displayed in several different kanji "fonts"—to get just the effect you want. Included is an introduction to kanji, writing tips, and a special supplement on Zodiac kanji (great for birthdays!).

"People are always fascinated by different cultures, and we continue to be awed by the wonderful ways in which East and West have mingled in culture, lifestyle, design, art, and aesthetics. We hope this book will enrich your own experience of kanji in art and design and help you bring your creative gifts to bear in fresh, new ways."—from the Authors’ Introduction


Books sold at

E-Books sold at

About the Author(s)

Leza Lowitz

Leza Lowitz

Collaborated with her husband Shogo Oketani, on a book about kanji for tattoos, a collection of poetry by a pacifist Japanese soldier, and a Young Adult trilogy about a young female ninja's quest to save her ancestral land.

Shogo Oketani

Shogo Oketani

Works at Dobunsha Publishers, editing college textbooks in the fields of nutrition, bio-technology and food science. In his spare time, he writes fiction and publishes literary translation. He is at work on an historical novel about a revolutionary samurai in medieval Japan.