All about the Japanese symbol for “Forever”

The Japanese symbol for “forever” eien

How is “Forever” pronounced in Japanese?

The most common word for “Forever” in Japanese is e永遠 “Eien”. 

The Japanese symbol is composed of two kanji. 

永 means eternity, permanence, or perpetuity

遠 or 遠い means far, distant, or a long way off

Even though Japan’s most dominant religions are Buddhism and Shinto, concepts such as “eternity”, or “eternal love”, or a life after death are still pretty commonly understood ideas. 

The English words “Forever” and “Eternity” have slight differences in usage in English, but they are generally used fairly similarly in Japanese as eien.

The different ways “Forever” can be expressed in Japanese characters and symbols

  1. 延々(Enen)

Forever, endlessly, on and on. 延 alone is read as nobiru(延びる) which means prolong, or stretching. It refers to time that someone who thought the moment would go on forever.

Example sentences:


Tento no naka de akegata made enen to oshaberi wo shimashita.

We talked endlessly until dawn in the tent.


Enen to tsutzuku kuruma no retsu ga atta.

There was a long line of cars.


Kare no supiichi wa enen to tsutzuita.

His speech went on forever.

  1. 末永く(Suenagaku)

Forever, everlastingly, for many years to come, ever.

Example sentences:


Kyakujintachi wa sono shiawasena fuufu ga suenagaku yuufukuna jinsei wo okuru koto wo inotta.

The guests wished the happy couple a long and prosperous life.


Suenagaku, tanoshii hibi wo okuraremasu you oinori shimasu.

I pray that you will have a long and happy life.


Kare wa suenagaku kioku ni nokoru darou.

He will always be remembered.

  1. 無限(Mugen)

Means infinity, infinitude or eternity. But usually, mugen is used on figures or numbers.

Example sentences:


Tennenshigen wa mugen ni sonzai suru wake dewa nai.

Natural resources are not limitless.


Ningen wa mugen no senzai nouryoku wo motte iru.

Human beings are gifted with infinite potential.


Anata wa geijutsu toshite no mugen no kanousei wo himete iru.

You have infinite possibilities as an artist.

What words are in the Japanese symbol for “Forever” Used In?

  1. 永久(Eikyuu)

Eternity, Permanence, perpetuity. This can also means Eikyuu era.

Example sentences:


Kasekinenryou wa eikyuu ni riyou dekiru wake nai.

Fossil fuels won’t be available forever.


Aoi iro wa yorokobi no minamoto toshite kami ni yotte eikyuu ni sadamerarete iru.

The blue color is forever ordained by God as a source of joy.


Ryousho wa sairyou no tomo de ari, kyou mo kongo mo eikyuu ni onajide aru.

A good book is your best friend, and it will be the same today and forever.

  1. 永久歯(Eikyuushi)

Means Permanent tooth.

Example sentences:


Nyuushi ga nukenai uchi ni ushiro kara eikyuushi ga haetekimashita.

Before the baby teeth fell out, the permanent teeth erupted from behind.


Musuko no nyuushi ga eikyuushi ni kawarimashita.

My son’s milk teeth have changed to permanent teeth.


Musume no eikyuushi ga haite kimashita.

My daughter’s permanent tooth is coming out.

  1. 永々(Naganaga)

Naganaga has an alternate kanji of 長々 which also means “long”, or “drawn-out”.

Example sentences:


Kare no nikki wa dekigoto no raretsu ni chikakatta. Motto mo toki ni wa, naganaga to kijutsu suru koto mo atta.

His diary was more or less a list of events. Sometimes, though, I would write for a long time.


Kare wa gendai seikatsu no fukuzatsu sei ni tsuite naganaga to hanashita.

He spoke at length about the complexities of modern life.


Naganaga to kyōgi shita sue ni, urite to kaite wa kekkyoku oriatta.

After lengthy discussions, the seller and buyer eventually came to an agreement.

Stroke order for writing the characters in Japanese “Forever” and associated symbols.

  1. 延々
  1. 末永く
  1. 無限
  1. 永々
  1. 永久
  1. 永久歯

Historical forms of the chinese character for “Forever”

How is “Forever” expressed in Chinese?

永远(Yǒngyuǎn) is how “Forever” in Chinese language. Most likely the first symbol has the same meaning as the Japanese symbol 永. While the Japanese symbol 遠 is derived from Chinese symbol 远 which also means “Far”, or “away”. 

Should you get “Forever” done as a tattoo in Japanese lettering?

It’s fairly common to see on instagram, or anywhere on the internet, eien 永遠 or even just 永 to symbolize eternity or forever. There’s really nothing to stop you getting this as a tattoo. Indeed, it is quite “meta” to get permanent ink of something so permanent!

Neither “forever” or “eternity” have any negative or other meaning that can be misunderstood, so they are relatively safe choices for tattooing. 

Chinese and Japanese symbols, despite being slightly different in how they have changed form over time, generally have the same or similar meanings (with exceptions!). There is no great chance of the characters for “forever” or “eternity” having a different meaning in the different languages, so you can sleep soundly!  

Plus it does look like a slick tattoo aesthetically, IMHO.


Article by Dhanie James Perez

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