The subject came up again in comments here by Julie Steadman. Originally she claimed concerning one of Todd’s tattoos:
the japanese symbols exactly match what is used to depict the Budhist angel Emma-O.
I asked her for evidence, and she replied yesterday, more than a week later, with a quotation from this web page which in fact by no means supports her claim. The tattoo in question, pictured here, consists of three Chinese characters, which are also used in Japanese where they are called Kanji. According to a Japanese “expert”, the first character means “great” and the third “king”; the middle character might mean “protect”. But in this order they make no sense in Japanese, although they might be rearranged to mean “Protect the Great King”. So what is the link to the supposed Buddhist angel “Emma-O”? Only that this angel is also sometimes called “Great King”. Well, God and Jesus are also sometimes called “Great King”, so why is anyone suggesting that a tattoo on a Christian refers to a Buddhist rather than a Christian king?
But it turns out that this is not the real significance of the tattoo. Now I don’t know any Chinese or Japanese personally. But I do know how to identify Chinese or Kanji characters. It seems that the three in Todd’s tattoo are:
The middle character, the one which the Japanese “expert” consulted for the page Julie linked to had trouble identifying, is Unicode character 885E, with (according to Unicode data) the Mandarin pronunciation wèi, the Korean pronunciation wi, and the Vietnamese pronunciation vệ.
A bit of googling gave me a whole page about this character including this image, from which I determined that its Japanese pronunciation is mamoru, and its English meaning is “defence”. I also found that the combination 大衞斯 dai mamoru shi, pronounced together daieishi, is used for a man called Davids, and the first two characters here are the first two characters in Todd’s tattoo. Since the third character of the tattoo means “king”, this suggests that the tattoo could perhaps be read “King David”.
So guess what I found when I asked Yahoo Babelfish to translate “King David” into traditional Chinese for me? 大衛国王. Todd’s tattoo consists of the first, second and fourth of these characters. The third character, meaning “country”, is apparently redundant, because the whole tattoo, 大衛王, translates back into English as “David king”.
To confirm this, I looked at Bible Gateway for the Chinese Union Version (in traditional orthography) of 1 Kings 1:1. Here is the verse:
大 衛 王 年 紀 老 邁 ， 雖 用 被 遮 蓋 ， 仍 不 覺 暖 。
In English the first part of this of course means “When King David was very old …” (TNIV). The first three characters appear to be exactly the ones of Todd’s tattoo, clearly implying that this is the traditional Christian way of writing “King David” in Chinese. It doesn’t make sense in Japanese because it is not Japanese but Chinese.
I can only presume that Todd went to a tattooist and asked for a Chinese tattoo meaning “King David”. And he got what he asked for.