Chinese character tattoos are apparently pretty popular in Vancouver. Here are the ones I saw on people during the eight months we were there. Clicking on individual characters below will open a dictionary list of associated words.
I saw 成 (chéng) on a woman’s neck in the airport. With just a single character and no context, I guess it could theoretically mean all sorts of things; 成 is part of the words for grow, change, become, succeed… She had sort of the trendy hippie/new-agey/alternative thing going on, so I’m guessing she meant change or becoming.
There was more than one 爱 (ài / love), of course. For some reason both times I saw this it was also on people’s necks.
力 (lì / strength), predictably, was on a guy’s shoulder.
生 (shēng / life, birth, to be born) was on a guy’s hand on the bus. From overhearing his conversation it was obvious he was some kind of an evangelical Christian, so I wonder if he was going for life or born again or something, maybe with another tattoo that I didn’t see.
Come to thing of it, I’ve also seen 爱、力 and 生 on coffee mugs at the supermarket.
No doubt cultural influence still flows mostly from the West to China rather than vice versa, but I think it’s interesting how these mundane examples suggest that cultural influence from China is at least trickling in our direction.