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“.
Here’s a story that I saw on the TV news and the newspaper recently about this turtle:
Someone painted 「カメデス」 ("I'm a turtle") on his back.
I added the original Japanese article here and below it is my translation of it to English.
Journal：The “I’m A Turtle” turtle captured at Kofu Maizurujyou Park
A turtle that someone wrote “I’m A Turtle” on the shell was captured on June 16th at Maizurujyou Park in Kofu (Japan).
Government employees who manage the park had been trying unsuccessfully to capture the turtle to clean off the writing on it’s back.
A policeman was passing the park on his way to work and noticed the turtle. When he approached the turtle, it pulled it’s head and legs into it’s shell and the policeman was able to catch it easily.
The park employees were planning to remove the writing from the turtle’s back, but decided there was a risk of injuring the animal with the paint remover. So they decided to care for the turtle and hope the writing eventually wears off.
I wonder how someone could be mean to an animal. We have a pet turtle and I couldn’t imagine harming it (I have a photo of our turtle at the end of this post).
Every December a kanji character is chosen in Japan that represents the year that coming to an end, and the character is written in traditional 習字 (calligraphy) by the head monk at a temple in Kyoto and presented in a ceremony to the public.
Last year (2008), the character 「変」 (“change“) was chosen. Click here to read my post from last year to see why that character was chosen.
It was decided that since the U.S. elected a historic new President, Japan elected a Prime Minister from a new party, and also because of the global epidemic of “Swine Flu” which is called 「新型インフルエンザ」 (“New Flu”) in Japan…that the kanji character for 2009 is 「新」, which means “new“.
The 2009 Kanji of the year is the character for "New"
Here’s a picture of the head monk writing the character 「新」 (“new”) in traditional Japanese calligraphy:
漢字 (Kanji) is one of the three type of Japanese written characters. They’re the characters that Japan originally borrowed from China…(Japan’s original characters are ひらがな (hiragana) and カタカナ (katakana).)
(This post isn’t about explaining Japan’s written characters. But, if you’re wondering, basically Chinese uses 漢字 (Kanji) exclusively…but the Japanese language is different and needs ひらがな (hiragana) and カタカナ (katakana) also.
For example, a sentence like “Canada is a large country” uses kanji, hiragana and katakana and would look like: 「カナダは大きい国です。」).
Starting in 1995, every year on December 12th Japan chooses a 今年の漢字 (Kanji Of The Year).
It’s a character that is chosen by popular vote that represents the biggest events of the current year and is written out in a large 習字 (Japanese calligraphy) character in a ceremony by the lead monk at a temple in 京都 (Kyoto).
In 1995, there was a large 地震 (earthquake) in 神戸 (Kobe, Japan), and a sarin gas attack on the subways of 東京 (Tokyo). So, that year 「震」 (tremor) was the 今年の漢字 (Kanji Of The Year).
This year (2008) saw alot of major good and bad changes such as the Japanese Prime Minister changing suddenly, a historical American election on a campaign of “change”, and major changes in the world’s economy.
So, last Friday (December 12), this year’s 今年の漢字 (Kanji Of The Year) was announced as 「変」 (“change“).
(Here’s a picture of this year’s character (“change”) being written by the lead monk):
Do you study 日本語 (Japanese)?
Can you understand the following passage? Is it too easy? Too difficult?
(It was taken from the book A Course In Modern Japanese, vol.2).
I transcribed the first lesson of the book here (as always, I added ふりがな to the 漢字 (Japanese Kanji characters)…but only the first time each one appears.