national

密 chosen as kanji character best representing 2020

32 Comments

The kanji character 密 (mitsu), meaning close, has been chosen as the character best representing the sentiment and events in Japan in 2020. The character was used in the government’s recommended anti-coronavirus measures of avoiding the 3密 or "3 Cs" -- closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings (密閉, 密集, 密接).

In an event held on Monday afternoon, Seihan Mori, the head priest at the world-famous Kiyomizu Buddhist temple in Kyoto, drew the character 密 with a large calligraphy brush on a huge piece of washi (Japanese paper).

The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, a Kyoto-based organization that promotes kanji, has conducted the survey nationwide every year since 1995. The foundation said 208,025 submissions were received this year online and by postcard between Nov 1 and Dec 6, with 密 garnering 28,401 votes.

The second most popular kanji with 13,655 votes was 禍 (ka), meaning epidemic, followed by 病 (byo), meaning sick. Next were 新 (shin or new), 変 (hen or strange), 家 (ie or uchi for home) and 滅 (metsu or reduce).

Last year, the character 令 (rei), meaning beautiful or graceful, was chosen. It was one of two characters for 令和 (Reiwa), the new era that began when Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne on May 1, 2019.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
Login to comment

If you have not clicked on the twitter link kindly posted by noriahojanen, you should!

Thank you noriahojanen, that is certainly an iconic (and ironic) photo. No doubt it will be much reproduced. I don't often click on random posted links, but I am glad I did. I think you are underselling this one!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Interesting .... I would have chosen this kanji: 同性愛

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

禍 is better.... or 過去最多

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

禍、rendered ka, the on reading, and wazawai, the kun. As in 生活 and 生ゴミ。As has been noted, 禍 is closer to 'woe' than epidemic.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

nandakandamanda

The article does not make it clear, but mitsu 密 has the meaning of close with a hard 's', i.e. near, in close proximity.

Wouldn't that be a soft S?

Wouldn't a hard S be the one in "close the door"?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The second most popular kanji with 13,655 votes was 禍 (ka), meaning epidemic

It's also my choice of this year. It means not merely epidemic but also social disruption, crisis or hardship.

In an event held on Monday afternoon, Seihan Mori, the head priest at the world-famous Kiyomizu Buddhist temple in Kyoto, drew the character 密 with a large calligraphy brush on a huge piece of washi (Japanese paper).

Ironically, the event formed a big 密 gathering....

https://twitter.com/Ariei2000/status/1338351262195073024

1 ( +1 / -0 )

密, good word to describe 2020. i hope we will all have a brand new year at 2021 ! too many bad things happen at 2020

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I would have chosen ie 家

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Messy look... bad to be close again this year but not far. ..

°

MMF

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The article does not make it clear, but mitsu 密 has the meaning of close with a hard 's', i.e. near, in close proximity.

('Dense' as Sven says, is also a good translation, with no gaps or spaces, or 'thick' as in 'thick as thieves'. It is also used in various other related senses, including secret societies like Ninja, working in dark secret places, hidden out of sight in the hills and forests. The kind of cluster atmosphere that virions like.)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

So for many years this “tradition” has enveloped us, but never head it used other than it’s announcement. Could someone tell me the point of it?

/

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's what kanji characters looks like when I write them down. :)

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

In other publications it is translated as ‘dense’. But I don’t care too much as I have enough problems to decipher the more and often common used kanji. It also doesn’t solve any problems we currently have to face or those of the nearer future.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

There is 山 at the bottom and the other mitsu has 虫 downward ingredient.

You kanji guys are out of this planet going forward.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Goodlucktoyou

Yes, you can say so.

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

can I use this to say “Mitsu no Olympics”?

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

Avoid crowds, avoid closed rooms and avoid close contact with people. Three things "San Mitsu" are destroying people's lives. We are not hermits. How long can people continue such a life style?

-13 ( +2 / -15 )

I can think of one word descriptions for the year 2020, but they aren't suitable for publication.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Hmm.. I am not convinced this was the best choice.

I think covid19 dominated the year and with it we had to change almost everything about our lives. So there change is word I would have gone with.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

禍 (ka) - actually pronounced as wazawai, if I'm not mistaken.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

密 seems good for 2020 in Japan, when joined with 秘 to make 秘密. It's been a secret since the start of the pandemic how many people have been infected. Through lack of testing, even the national government has been kept in the dark. What you don't know... Then the immigration authorities kept long-term foreign residents from knowing if they could reenter the country if they left. Finally, will the size of the ever-growing Olympics debt be revealed? And just how much have friends of the LDP, such as Dentsu and all the Zenikon construction companies profited from all the corporate welfare? On second thought, if we had any tears left, 涙 might be the best choice.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

The second most popular kanji with 13,655 votes was 禍 (ka), meaning epidemic, followed by 病 (byo), meaning sick

What about 疫 (eki) ? It is a better kanji for meaning epidemic . I am not fluent in Japanese.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

Mitsu was a commonly used character this year, but it does seem backwards to select it, given the calls for social distancing.

I hardly drank a beer outside all year...

-6 ( +5 / -11 )

Interesting, because when the word "CLOSE" is used on doors of shops intends to mean "closed" but it actually means nearby. To totally different words.

"Close" ends up on store signs because the verb/adjective pattern in English is inconsistent (and nobody puts an ounce of effort into checking):

Verb: open close

Adj.: open closed

It's got nothing to do with being confused for the homonym "close" (meaning "near").

-5 ( +5 / -10 )

Close 密

But too many close their eyes, close their hearts, close their minds, close compassion.

Where I live is called Mitsu, becomes Mituscho. Different kanji.

-8 ( +4 / -12 )

Rampant corruption? Or rampant stupidity in the lead up to the 2020/2021 nonsense Olympic.

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Two, not to. Sorry about the auto spell

-10 ( +4 / -14 )

Interesting, because when the word "CLOSE" is used on doors of shops intends to mean "closed" but it actually means nearby. To totally different words.

The character in Japanese is interchangable with other meanings when combined with another character.

Imagine if there was a movie titled, "Closed Encounters of the Third Kind"?

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

 I would have suggested 距離 Kyori distance. ( I hope the Kanji is correct)

it is, but I think they are looking for 1 kanji where you have 2.

離 ri or (Hana)reru for separation would work nice.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

密 is the most obvious one for this year. No other kanji comes close.

Brian Wheway

I would have suggested 距離 Kyori distance.

Good suggestion. That's two characters though so I don't think it's possible.

-2 ( +8 / -10 )

I dont know about Mitsu, close, I would have suggested 距離 Kyori distance. ( I hope the Kanji is correct)

-10 ( +3 / -13 )

It has to be one character, not two, to be considered.

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites