The kanji character 災 (sai), meaning disaster or misfortune, has been chosen as the character best representing the sentiment and events in Japan in 2018.
In an event held on Wednesday afternoon and broadcast live by some TV stations, Seihan Mori, the head priest at the world-famous Kiyomizu Buddhist temple in Kyoto, drew the character 災 with a large calligraphy brush, whose bristles were the size of a bowling pin, 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 193,214 submissions were received this year online and by postcard, with 災 garnering 20,815 votes or 10.80% of the total.
The second most popular kanji was 平 (hei), meaning peace, which got 16,117 votes.
This year, many disasters hit Japan, including a typhoon, earthquake and heatwave, with hundreds of lives lost. The foundation said many people were reminded of the importance of preparing for emergencies as well as protecting themselves and helping one another. The scandals and issues surrounding stolen cryptocurrency, power harassment in the sports world, and the Finance Ministry’s alteration of land sale documents led people to view this year’s events as not only natural but man-made disasters, the foundation said.
The kanji for 2017 was 北 (north).© Japan Today