kanji of the year
絆 (きずな, kizuna, “bonds, ties”)
Volunteer efforts, good works and even marriage increases have highlighted human relations in a troubling year. This heartwarming message was rescued from other more disaster-oriented options such as gen (the first kanji in nuclear power), sai (hazard), hi (from radiation exposure), shin from earthquake, and tsu from tsunami. Here’s to the ties that bond.
As chosen by the Japan Kanji Aptitude Foundation’s annual national poll
words of the year
なでしこジャパン Nadeshiko Japan The “Japanese beauties,” a.k.a. the women’s national soccer team, came out as first-time World-Cup winners, bringing joy to a nation in mourning.
どじょう内閣 / どじょうないかく (Dojo naikaku, “Loach Cabinet”) Referring to the unpretentious fish of Aida Mitsuo’s poem “Dojo,” new PM Yoshihiko Noda referred to himself as a loach. His government has been the “Loach Cabinet” ever since.
帰宅難民 / きたくなんみん (Kitaku nanmin, “the refugees’ return home”) After the quake hit, over five million people were stranded. This refers to that arduous commute which everyone has a story about.
風評被害 ふうひょうひがい / Fu hyo higai, “financial damage caused by harmful rumors”) Post-Fukushima reports have led to discrimination against refugees and a drop in farmers’ sales.
Released annually by Jiyukokuminsha Publishing