A friend just returned from Okinawa and she brought back a very nice banner written in kanji caligraphy by Master Toma (one of the teachers of Master Odo, who was my sensei's teacher). I've got a rough translation of it based on the meaning of the individual characters. The characters are 守 ("protect or defend"), 真 ("truth"), 志 ("will or intention"), and 満 ("full or complete"). I realize the characters can have different meanings when grouped together, but at least this character-by-character translation gives me a rough idea of what it means.
Anyone know any Japanese? If so, got any idea what the whole thing in context means? Doing a Google search for "守真志満" gives a handful of results. From these results, it appears this text of part of something called 1000 character sentences. The 1000 character sentences is a poem that is basically 250 sentences made up of 4 unique characters each, designed to help people practice writing character caligraphy. From what I could figure out from the rough translation of these web pages, this 1000 characters sentences thing has been around for 1500 years (originally from China).
It's kind of funny - it took about 5 minutes to look up the first three characters in my Japanese kanji dictionary, but the last character took me about 2 hours to finally locate. (I got thrown off by the caligraphy version with the single line on the left representing three strokes.) The things I do with my time.... and for some reason people think I'm obsessive.
The three small characters on the left-hand edge are Master Toma's name: Seiki Toma (Sei Ki Toma) (Well, I'm actually guessing the last squiggly one says "Toma" as the first two definitely are Seiki and that is the first half of Master Toma's name.)