Actually, the danger is not in the tattoo itself, but in the tattooists.
Unfortunately internet is full of "horror stories" about oriental tattoos which were guaranteed to have a certain meaning, and turned out to be totally different... next you´ll find some samples, mainly from www.hanzismatter.com
, a website run by Tian Tang, dedicated to the misuse of chinese characters in western culture.
The greatest part of western tattooists does not know ideograms (hanzi in Chinese, kanji in Japanese), and does not even have an idea of how complex they are: it´s so easy to stumble upon mirrired or reverted tattoos, or even partial ideograms which totally lose their meaning.
Those are the gibberish tattoos, first great half of the wrong tattoos, and there are many examples of them on the web... such as the one in the next image, where there are just nine out of twelve zodiac signs, and they are all mirrored:
The other great half of wrong tattoos is even worst: ideograms are correctly inked, but their meaning is definitely not the expected one.
Two samples: the man in the picture below carried his tattoo on his chest for 26 years, convinced it was his name, as he was told by a waiter from his favourite chinese restaurant. Only after he did a trip to Thailand he found out he actually bore the name "Coke" around for all those years...
Another sample is about a boy who, turned 18, decided to get his name tattooed. What should have been his name is actually the word "idiot":
One last important tip: do not trust "alphabets" which are claimed to translate names in chinese characters!
Chinese ideograms are NOT an alphabet, and thus names can not be written by "translating" them letter by letter. What can be done is using ideograms whose sound recalls the sound of the letters, or syllables, but then... who knows what the results would be?!! They could be totally unpredictable!
In the end, if you want to get an ideogram tattoo, you´d better make your homeworks first: a search on the internet could save you from bad surprises...
Once you have your model, check it get correctly tattooed, not mirrored or capsized, and as close to the original as possible: a few variations could totally upset the meaning of your tattoo, or just turn it into gibberish.
You can also try and post your tattoo on www.hanzismatter.com
before you get it done, to see if Tian can check it for you!