"Disaster" Selected as Kanji of YearAnnounced at Kiyomizu-dera Temple, Kyoto
The "kanji," or Chinese character, pronounced "sai," meaning "disaster," was selected as "Kanji of the Year" for 2018 in an annual December event to choose one kanji character which reflects the year. The selection was announced at Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, by the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, based in Higashiyama Ward, on December 12. A total of 193,214 people voted in this contest. "Disaster" received 20,858 votes.
This is the 24th anniversary of the contest that was inaugurated in 1995. Seihan Mori, the chief priest at Kiyomizu Temple, wrote the character with powerful brush strokes on a large-sized Japanese paper, on the terrace of the temple's Okuno-in hall.
Reasons voiced among those who voted for the character meaning "disaster" included the earthquakes in Hokkaido and northern Osaka Prefecture, flooding in western Japan, the typhoons, a record heat wave, and other events which have led many people to hope for much less disaster damage in the new year, when the era name will be changed with the accession of the new emperor.
Last year's character was "kita," meaning "north," reflecting North Korea's repeated missile launches and nuclear tests, as well as flooding in northern Kyushu. "Fall," read as "tou," was the chosen character for 1997, when financial institutions went under, one after the other. The character for 2011, when the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred, was "kizuna," or "bonds."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)