Thursday, December 13, 2007

Character of the Year

Beginning in 1995, every December a single Chinese/Japanese character is chosen to represent the previous year. Beforehand, there is a national vote where anyone living in Japan can choose what word they think portrays the feeling, mood, or overall image of the year.

On December 12th at Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto crowds of people gather to watch as the head monk uses a giant brush to write the kanji that received the most votes.

2007's character was "nise" meaning fake or under false pretenses. This year dozens upon dozens of reputable companies and supermarkets were found to have falsified expiration dates, ingredients on food products, and let's not get into China and lead or the case of the steamed meat buns that had seasoned cardboard in them. Pork and rabbit meat was being sold as beef and a few McDonald's chains were selling milkshakes made from ingredients over a year old.

The monk says later that it is very embarrassing to have such a kanji for the year 2007. Last year's word was Life, btw. The year before, Love.

Here he is revealing for the first time the kanji. You can hear the crowd's response as they realize what it is before he finishes.

Here is a list in English of the previous year's kanjis and why.

The event is put on by the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society.

Not quite the positive conotation as w00t! but hey! Virginia has great timing.