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Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012 Kanji Of The Year

Well, well… would you believe that 'Kin', the kanji for gold (or money) was chosen as the Kanji of the Year for 2012?

Every year, the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation in Kyoto chooses a word (via kanji, the Chinese-based alphabet) that best represents what it feels the pulse of Japan.

According to the foundation, 'Kin' or gold was very representative of the social feelings of Japan, noting that Yamanaka Shinya (surname first) won this year's Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine (for stem cell research), and the country as a whole took home 38 medals at the 2012 London Olympics, the most it ever won.

It also mentioned that Japan is involved in a lot of political talks about reforming its tax systems, and goes along with all of the money scandals plaguing the country, oh and completing the Tokyo SkyTree tower.

The selection of the kanji was chosen at Kyomizudera (Pure Water Temple); in Kyoto on December 12, 2012 where it was painted via calligraphy on a huge piece of paper (150 centimeters high x 130 meters wide).

This is the second time that Kin has been chosen as the kanji of the year, with the first occurring in 2000.

It was chosen in a poll from over 250,000 suggestions.

As an aside, they could have done a lot better in choosing the kanji of the year. Granted I'm not there, and don't have my finger on the pulse as well as those living there, but the general feeling I get from Japan is one of 'frustration'.

Frustration at having power shortages, increased greenhouse gases (not much 'clean' nuclear power being used), nuclear reactors being shut down for safety checks that should have been done constantly (pointing to a lack of concern for the Japanese person's well-being), frustration from families still displaced after the nuclear disaster and tsunami/earthquake of March 11, 2011, frustration at greed from politicians and big business, frustration from politicians in general, the economy going into the toilet and not being able to flush it because chunks are too big to go down the drain, frustration over an inability to protect itself from drunken U.S. military personnel, North Korea and its missiles, China trying to muscle in on islands to the south, the Russians trying to muscle in on islands to the north, frustration over a collapsing economy, the automobile sector turning into something akin to the U.S one of a few years ago.

And Gold - 'Kin' - is chosen? because someone wins a Nobel Prize (great accomplishment, by the way), or you won some Olympic medals? Japan won seven (7) gold medals! You won 14 Silver and 17 Bronze!  Why not pick 'Bronze" as the kanji if not being the best is important? Hey… being the second or third-best anything in the world is important, but how the hell does seven gold medals represent the pulse of a nation? It doesn't!

Apparently another deciding factor for 'Kin' was that there was a solar eclipse back in May. Big deal! I'm pretty sure other countries around the wold burned their eyeballs out staring at it, too! How is a solar eclipse representative of Japan when a large chunk of the world also experiences it?!

SkyTree? Looks great... I wish we could visit it, but we have no money or home, say many people in Fukushima-ken!

Money scandals and tax reforms… hey, how about choosing greed as something that represents Japan then? How about a kanji showing a middle finger extended giving the Japanese populace the big FU as it sits in judgement of everything?

Sorry… 'Kin' may represent a bit about Japan - and when the hell hasn't GOLD been a part of Japan's psyche? - but surely there was a word to better describe things in a country that has had a hard go of things in 2012?

Kin. Ugh.

Here's a link to the 2011 Kanji of the Year: HERE, and another blog detailing the other previous winners: HERE.

Andrew Joseph

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