Every year, Japan chooses a single kanji character that best captures the past year based on the events that shaped it.
Emerging with 5.6% of 170,290 votes, the kanji for “wa”—輪, meaning “circle” or “ring” was announced the Kanji Character of The Year because of Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympic Games, which is also referred to as “five rings” in Japanese.
The character is also pronounced the same as the character for “harmony,” which was only fitting for the teamwork displayed by Tokyo’s delegation to the September meeting of the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires.
The successful registration of Mount Fuji as a World Heritage Site as well as Japan’s entrance into the World Cup also inspired to the selection because they were events in which “all of people throughout Japan came together in a circle of great joy.”
A male voter was quoted as saying that “the country must keep harmony” amid devastation brought by natural disasters in Japan and in the Philippines where rescuers and volunteers are coming from all over the world to help.
Second place went to 楽: “raku” or “enjoyment,” a character in the name of the Rakuten Golden Eagles, the baseball team that won the professional Japan Series championship.
The winner of the annual year-end vote, which has been running since 1995, is announced on December 12 by the head monk of Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto.
By Maesie Bertumen