Today is December 15th, the day that the Kanji of the Year is chosen in Japan.
The JapanToday website wrote:
The kanji character 安 “an,” meaning peace or safety, has been chosen as the character best representing the sentiment and events in Japan in 2015.
The character refers to the controversial security legislation that the government passed in the summer.
The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, a Kyoto-based organization that promotes kanji, conducts the survey nationwide every year. The foundation said 129,647 submissions were received this year, with 安 being the most popular, garnering 5,632 votes.
In an event held on Tuesday, Seihan Mori,the head priest at the world-famous Kiyomizu Buddhist temple in Kyoto, drew the character with a large calligraphy brush, whose bristles were the size of a bowling pin, on a huge piece of “washi” (Japanese paper).
The second most popular character was 爆, “baku” (explosion), a reference to “bakugai,” meaning explosive buying (shopping sprees) by Chinese tourists visiting Japan.
The third most popular kanji was 戦, meaning war, referring to the many conflicts going on in the Middle East and the war on terror.
Every December, a kanji (Japanese (Chinese) written character) is chosen that represents the biggest news of the year that is just ending. It’s called 「今年の漢字」 (“The Kanji of the Year“).
Last Friday, the kanji of the year for 2014 was chosen. It’s 「税」 (zei) which means “tax“.
Every year, when the 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year”) is chosen, it’s presented to the public at a special ceremony at a temple in Kyoto where the head monk writes the character and it’s broadcast on TV, newspapers and the internet.
The Kanji of the Year (今年の漢字) for 2014 is 「税」 (“tax”).
The reason that this character was chosen to represent 2014 is because the sales tax in Japan was increased this year for the first time in years.
When I came to Japan in 1990, the sales tax here was 3%. (Until just a couple of years before I came to Japan there was no sales tax here at all!)
It stayed at 3% until 1997 when it was raised to 5% (that year, a law was also passed that the “after-tax” price must be shown on all products).
Japan’s sales tax was 5% for seventeen years. It was increased to it’s current 8% last spring (thus the Kanji of the Year is “tax”).
The Japanese government plans to increase the sales tax again next year (in 2015) to 10%!
Every December, a Japanese kanji character is chosen as 「今年の漢字」 (“the kanji of the year”).
You can click here to read my post about last year’s (2012) kanji of the year,
click here for 2011‘s,
click here for 2010‘s,
click here for 2009‘s,
and click here for 2008‘s.
This year’s (2013) Kanji of the Year was just chosen.
It’s 「輪」 (りん(“rin“)).
It means “ring” and was chosen in honor of the Olympics rings because of Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 summer Olympics.
Every December (for the past seventeen years or so), a 漢字 (Japanese (Chinese) written character) is chosen which has a meaning that best summarizes the passing year.
Last year the character 「絆」 (bonding) was chosen because of the way the world came together to help Japan after the March 11th earthquake.
Well, this year, for the first time since this tradition began, the 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year“) will be a repeat.
In the year 2000, the 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year“) was 「金」 (“gold”) because Japan won gold medals at that year’s Olympics and also because “Kin-san” of the famous elderly Japanese twins “Kin-san and Gin-san died that year—and her name meant “gold”.
This year too, 「金」 (“gold”) was chosen again to be the 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year“).
And once again the reason for this choice was because of the gold medals that Japan won at the Olympics. Other reasons cited were the opening of the Tokyo Sky Tree, the Nobel Prize won by a Japanese professor, and the solar eclipse last spring.
The character 「金」 for “gold”.
Writing the Kanji of the Year for 2012 in the official ceremony.
Every year around this time in Japan a Kanji character is chosen that best represents the year that is ending. The character is presented in the public in a ceremony in Kyoto, Japan in which a Buddhist monk writes the character in 習字 (Japanese calligraphy).
Last year the character 「新」 (“new“) was chosen to represent 2009. (Click here to read my post about it).
This past summer had record high temperatures in Japan.
Also from August until October, miners in the country of Chile were trapped underground where the temperature was often over 30°C.
And Japan sent an unmanned space probe into space to take samples of an asteroid. Upon it’s return to Earth, most of the capsule was destroyed in the re-entry temperature of over 10,000°C.
For these reasons it was decided that the Kanji character that represents 2010 is 「暑」, which means “hot“.