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'Disaster' Chosen as 2018 Kanji of the Year

posted on by Kim Morrissy
2nd most-popular kanji was "peace"

The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation announced on Wednesday in a ceremony that the kanji character 災 (sai), meaning disaster or misfortune, is the 2018 Kanji of the Year.

Numerous natural disasters — including earthquakes, typhoons, floods, and record high temperatures — hit Japan this year. Many voters said that they were reminded of the importance of preparing for emergencies as well as a sense of duty to help one another through difficult times. Various political scandals also reinforced a widespread feeling that disasters are not only natural but also man-made.

The kanji of the year is a Japanese character that the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation has been choosing through a national ballot in Japan since 1995. The characters are selected to represent the events or "mood" of that year. The kanji with the most votes is announced in a ceremony on December 12 (Kanji Day) at the Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto.

Seihan Mori, the head priest at the Kiyomizu Temple, drew the character 災 with a large calligraphy brush on Japanese paper at this year's ceremony.

The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation said that 193,214 submissions were submitted this year via online voting or through postcard. 災 gathered 20,815 votes (10.80% of the total). Ironically, the second most popular kanji was 平 (hei), meaning peace, which accumulated 16,117 votes.

The kanji for 2017 was 北 (north), although an anime-centric version of the poll selected 獣 (kemono) due to the Kemono Friends boom.

Source: Japan Today


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