'Kin' chosen as kanji character best representing 2012

TOKYO —

The written character “kin,” meaning “gold,” has been chosen as the character best representing the sentiment and events in Japan in 2012.

The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, a Kyoto-based organization that promotes kanji, conducts the survey nationwide every year. More than 260,000 submissions were received this year, with “kin” being the most popular. The head priest at Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto unveiled the character on Wednesday.

Reasons given by survey respondents for choosing “kin” were that it reflected Japan’s gold medal haul at the London Olympics, it signified Shinya Yamanaka co-winning the Nobel prize for medicine and that it symbolized the opening of Tokyo Skytree.

Last year, the winning character was “kizuna,” meaning family bonds. In 2010, the vote went to “sho,” meaning hot, after a sweltering summer. In 2009, the winner was “shin”, meaning new, as Barack Obama became the first black U.S. president.

Japan Today

  • 2

    JeffLee

    as Barack Obama became the first black U.S. president.

    I thought he was mixed-race. Wasn't his mother white?

  • 0

    some14some

    not so keen.

  • 1

    Speed

    I thought it should've been "不” (fu).

    不安 (anxiety, unease) 不景気 (economic recession, bad economy) etc.

  • -1

    ka_chan

    Don't get it. Japan was 11th with 1/2 the gold medal count of Korea. Japan did much better in the total medal count by far. Also, seem a bit insulting to the Nobel organization.

  • 0

    Probie

    Reasons given by survey respondents for choosing “kin” were that it reflected Japan’s gold medal haul at the London Olympics

    That is classed as a "haul"?

  • 3

    Ewan Huzarmy

    About right it's the best word for the year, as every morning this year, the news has made me exclaim 'Kin 'ell!

  • 2

    gaijinfo

    These "kanji of the year" contests are right up there with the best jean'ists and whatever else -ists.

  • 4

    gaijinfo

    BTW, isn't "kanji character" a bit redundant?

  • 1

    CarbonLayup

    ^Haha, nice.

  • 7

    papigiulio

    金 as in how much money Japan lost: AIJ Retirement funds scandal, China clash, Governement spents Tohoku funds on other projects etc etc etc etc etc etc etc.......

  • 9

    alliswellinjapan

    Should have been 島 (island).

  • 2

    rickyvee

    japan must really be desperate for self agrandizement if they think 7 gold medals is a big deal. and the nobel prize has never been thought of as a "gold medal." this is actually quite pathetic.

  • 2

    Zen student

    Looks like 'kizuna' is out and 'kin' is in.

  • 1

    Saiaku

    I have a question about kanji, since I am not Japanese. Do they ever create new kanji to meet the demands of todays language, or do they update old ones with new meanings etc?

  • 2

    cadmium31680

    Kin is also the same kanji to represent the Korean surname Kim, e.g. Kim Jong-un.

  • 6

    Darren White

    Should be "dou" - bronze, really.

    Japan won so many bronze medals at the Olympics, slipped to 3rd place in the world's largest economy, and has 3rd-rate politicians.

  • 0

    JeffLee

    The nobel prize has never been thought of as a "gold medal."

    It is in Japan. Didn't you see the mass coverage in the J media, despite the fact the medal was shared with a ferringhi?

    I once told a Japanese colleague that scientists don't purposely set out to win Nobel awards. The award is a consequence, but not a goal, of their research. This came as big news to her. She said, "really?"

  • -5

    Synbios

    Exports dropping, riots in China, money wasted in Touhoku, more people than ever receiving the "seikatsuhogo" safety net money, big Japanese giants like Sony and Panasonic going down the road, etc.

    But, who cares! The average person doesn't want to worry about those things right? Let's give them a politically correct kanji so common people don't get too worried about things...and therefore begin to THINK about what happens inside their country.

  • 2

    timtak

    papigiulio is right. This is the kanji 金 "kane" for the money that Japan lost and needs to pay its debts. It was a deliberate pun or a Freudian slip on the part of those that submitted, many of whom may be feeling the pinch.

  • 0

    alliswellinjapan

    Saidani: Don't know much about how things are in China where these kanjis originally come from, but at least in Japan creation of new kanjis is quite unheard of. Katakanas are most often applied for any new terminologies invented domestically or imported from elsewhere.

  • 0

    ReformedBasher

    @JeffLee

    as Barack Obama became the first black U.S. president.

    I thought he was mixed-race. Wasn't his mother white?

    I like Obama but this irked me a bit too. I guess it "sells" better.

  • 1

    ReformedBasher

    @Probie (and others)

    Reasons given by survey respondents for choosing “kin” were that it reflected Japan’s gold medal haul at the London Olympics

    That is classed as a "haul"?

    How many gold medals did you win?

    What is wrong with a country trying to cheer itself up? Seriously, you people expect this and the right to do that in Japan, but you never have anything good to say about the country?

  • 2

    ReformedBasher

    @Saiaku

    I have a question about kanji, since I am not Japanese. Do they ever create new kanji to meet the demands of todays language, or do they update old ones with new meanings etc?

    I'm not an expert but I guess new meanings get added over time to old kanji, as with other languages. But I don't think new kanji are invented these days. (Anybody reading, please let me know if I'm wrong) Instead, new combinations of kanji are used, or some words are "borrowed" from other languages. For example, I'm doing a translation now that has the katakana version of "cyberspace". I'm sure relevant kanji could be pulled from the vast repetoire to make a word that is a purely Japanese equivalent (the same as we use Latin to make new words), but why bother when a word already exists? All languages have borrowed words as far as I know. Having a single word common to more than one language can also be convenient as it is understood by all.

  • -1

    Peter Payne

    Lame as hell. They have really lost credit with me.

    Anyone can see that 島 island should have been the keyword (key-kanji?) for 2012. Or possible 脱 datsu, for datsu-genpatsu.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    "Kin" isn't necessarily a bad choice, but it's better chosen for the reasons not mentioned: countless money scandals, no more pension, looming increase in taxes, increase in electricity rates, "suffering together" (ie. the bad economy and Japanese debt), cuts to salaries, cuts to bonuses, cuts to tax breaks for families, demands for the BOJ to buy bonds, etc. Sure Japan did win some golds in the end in London, but not the 16 or so the JOC said matter-of-factly they would get, and not even close to South Korea even. As for Yamanaka co-winning the Nobel (you almost never hear of 'the other guy'), it's a bit of a stretch to tie that into 'gold', but I suppose it works.

  • -1

    Amidalism

    I'm glad it isn't kizuna again. I am so sick of hearing/seeing that nonstop.

  • -2

    Nessie

    Kin, because セシウム is not kanji.

  • 0

    Elbuda Mexicano

    Kin is not too bad, but the old geezer who tried to write it up??? Too bad JT did not provide that picture, it does not even look anything like the kanji, 金!!

  • 1

    Thunderbird2

    About right it's the best word for the year, as every morning this year, the news has made me exclaim 'Kin 'ell!

    Brilliant!

  • -1

    Thunderbird2

    What is wrong with a country trying to cheer itself up? Seriously, you people expect this and the right to do that in Japan, but you never have anything good to say about the country?

    One of the best posts I've read since I started frequenting this site.

  • -1

    Fadamor

    IIRC the gold medal "haul" for Japan was larger than usual for the Summer Olympics, even if it wasn't impressive by international standards. So yes, they could actually be proud of that "haul".

    I have to agree with others that when people voted for "gold", they were thinking of how much less they had this year. If there were a single kanji for okane ga arimasen then it would have won hands-down.

  • 0

    Saiaku

    Thanks, ReformedBasher

  • 0

    kurisupisu

    Unfortunately,not many Japanese have any 'kin' - might be a problem if the LDP get in a gain........

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