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 December a 漢字 (Japanese kanji character) is chosen in Japan that best summarizes the year that is ending…and it becomes the official 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year”) in a ceremony in Kyoto with the temple monk writing the character in calligraphy brushstrokes on a large board.
The 2011 Kanji of the Year is 「絆」 ("Bond").
The official character for 2011 was announced today. It’s 「絆」 (Kizuna)…which means “(to) bond“.
This was chosen because of the way the people of Japan and the world came together to help the victims of the March 11 earthquake.
(Last year (2010), the Kanji of the Year meant “hot”. Click here to find out why.)
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“.
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):