This is the third time “gold” (kin, 金) has been named Kanji of the Year.
This year, Japan’s Kanji of the Year winner is…
“Gold” (kin, 金)…again!
産経ニュースＷＥＳＴ (@SankeiNews_WEST) December 12, 2016
This is the third time “gold” has been voted as Japan’s Kanji of the Year, previously being voted number one in the year 2000 and just as recently as 2012. Every year the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society announces the Kanji of the Year, which is selected based on votes cast by the general public, at Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto.
But why “gold”? According to reports, the “gold” kanji was selected for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the high number of gold medals won at the 2016 Rio Olympics played a part in the selection. Secondly, the shift to minus interest rates also played a role, seeing as “interest rate” is “kinri” in Japanese, which incorporates the kanji for “gold” when written. Thirdly, Trump’s U.S. presidential election victory is said to have been a factor (presumably because of the gold hair?). And finally, Piko Taro, who shot to worldwide fame with the song ‘PPAP’, who’s known for wearing a gold-colored animal print outfit.
▼ The kanji 金 was written in an elaborate style of calligraphy as part of the announcement.
net_wadai (@net__wadai) December 12, 2016
Last year, the kanji “an” (安) was chosen as the 2015 kanji of the year. The “an” kanji, meaning safety or peace, was believed to be particularly timely amidst the government’s attempts to expand the role of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces.
▼ Media gathered during last year’s Kanji of the Year announcement
はてな新着 (@hatena_news) December 15, 2015
Here are the Kanji of the Year winners for the last five years:
2015: an 安 (safety or peace, chosen at a time when the government’s attempts to expand the role of Japan’s Self-defense Forces was making news)
2012: kin 金 (gold, symbolizing the medals won at the London Olympics and Shinya Yamanaka’s Nobel Prize)
2011: kizuna 絆 (bonds, symbolizing the importance of family and social bonds after the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami disaster)
Do you think “gold” was the best choice of kanji representing the year 2016? What would have you chosen?