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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Kanji Of The Year

There are only two things true in life: death and taxes.

I once wrote a short story about the last man on Earth being harassed by the Eternal Revenue Service, so I can dig it.

So can Japan, as it has chosen the kanji character of zei - 税 - which means tax, as the word that best represents Japan for the year 2014.

The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation is an organization in Kyoto that in an effort to promote kanji, asks the citizens of Japan to vote on word that sums up the year for the Japanese.

First... do you really need to have a foundation to promote kanji? What are you guys - Sesame Street? Do people not know what letters are? 

"Today's program is brought to you by the letter seven. Yes... the letter seven."


Out of 167,613 submissions, 8,679 voters selected zei.

Mori Seihan (surname first), the head priest at the Kyomizudera temple in Kyoto, presented the kanji of the year in front of a large crowd, not by merely telling everyone the word, but by drawing it with an over-sized calligraphy brush featuring bristles the size of a standard bowling pin, drawing the kanji symbol zei on a huge piece of Japanese paper known as washi.

Check out the photo above... good luck trying to write it.

Hey - check out all the drips from this guy's calligraphy (in Japan it's called shodo). Pretty sloppy - even for a Buddhist priest. Drawing upright like that must be very 'taxing' for the poor priest.

Why zei?

Japan has an increase in the sales tax, beginning on April 1, 2014... and there was tremendous media coverage on that, plus the possibility that sales tax might be increased again in order to feed Japan's coffers by hitting the common people in the already tight pocketbook.

Welcome to a slice of global reality, Japan.

Us Canadians can't figure out why we have so much tax on our gasoline... it's like 48% or something like that... we have so much oil and gas, but Canadians pay so much as to be on par with a lot of other non-gas/oil countries. I think we also have a combined provincial and federal sales tax of 13% in Ontario, but poor Quebec is nailed with a 14.975% tax and Prince Edward Island has 14, and Nova Scotia the leading 15%. Alberta, the rich province with all the oil has 0% provincial and a 4% total tax.

I'd move to Alberta but then I'd have to put up with the Calgary Flames or (shudder) the Edmonton Oilers hockey teams.

Japan's sales tax moved from 5% to 8% in April, but it is expected to move all the way up to 10% in October of 2015. Yer breaking my effing heart.


According to The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, the second-most popular kanji character was 熱, meaning fever, a reference to the sporting passion that gripped Japan this year with the Sochi Olympics, World Cup soccer and the success of Nishikori Kei (surname first) on the tennis court. Fever also referred to the Ebola outbreak.

Number three was 嘘, which means lie and refers to all of the political scandals and the claims of a stem cell researcher.

If number two and three are supposed to represent your country, they would have been pretty damn

The Sochi Olympics were the Winter Olympics held in Russia, and Japan did okay. Japan didn't win the World Cup of soccer and your tennis player performed well, but is hardly dominant enough to be anything more than an afterthought on the world stage. Japan was hardly number one in sports in 2014. Wishful thinking. Next.

Political scandals... you have those every single effing year, Japan. You should be more concerned about the scandals you haven't discovered yet. A politician lying? No! D'uh. How can you tell a politician is lying? Their lips are moving. Why be surprised about a political scandal? That's just being naive.

As for the female scientist who faked her stem cell research? Scandalous, but surely there was something Japan was more proud of?

How about perseverance? Why accentuate a negative? Okay, you aren't always trying to do that as the suggestion of 'fever' might suggest.

How about stagnation? Like in your economy? Like in your nuclear energy program? Like in your country being considered a technical world power? Like in your constant failure in the Miss Universe pageant?

No... tax via zei is a damn fine word... it just means that despite all of your complaining, Japan's citizens are finally going to have to pay proper sales taxes like most other countries in the world.

Your sense of entitlement is over. Time to pay the piper.

For a list of the Kanji of the Year words since 1995, click HERE.

Andrew Joseph

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