Buzzword and Kanji of the Year

Buzzword and Kanji of the Year

2018 is almost over and it's time to look back on the year!

At the end of the year, Japan votes to decide the most popular buzzword and Kanji that express the year. Can you guess what they are? Well, let’s see!

Buzzword of the Year

Japanese publisher, Jiyu-kokumin-sha chose the best buzzwords that summed up the zeitgeist of the year. They chose 30 words as possible candidates for `Buzzword for the Year,` such as e-sports, #MeToo, and super volunteer before choosing the buzzword of the year.  

The buzzword of the year was…

そだねー (Sodanē)

“Sodanē" (そうだね) is from the Hokkaido dialect and means in standard Japanese “I agree, you’re right.” Sodanē was chosen buzzword members of Japan's women curling team, who are from Kitami city, Hokkaido, used it so often while competing in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

They spoke it with an intonation considered cute and casual, by stretching the last part of the word, as they played their way to a bronze medal. This bronze medal was the very first Olyminc medal for Japan in curling and so the populality of curling increased drastically after the Olympics.

Kanji of the Year

Every year, the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation collect the vote from the public to pick one Kanji which represent the year. The selected Kanji is announced by the master of ancient Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto, by writing the character on a huge white panel with an ink-soaked calligraphy brush.

Kanji of the year is….

Kanji : 災 (Sai / Wazawai)

Meanings : ①misfortune  ②disaster

A total of 20,858 people out of 193,214 chose the character 'disaster'. This year, in Japan, many people experienced the threat of natural desaisters. Earthquake in Hokkaido, Osaka, and Shimane, flood waters, Typhoon Jebi, heatwave etc…   

The country was hit by a series of natural disasters in 2018, starting with an earthquake in Osaka in June. A magnitude 5.9 earthquake struck the center part of Osaka, and train lines in the area was suspended. Moreover, massive flooding in western regions killed over 200 people, mainly in Hiroshima and Okayama.

(Left: People walking to the station because the train had stopped. Right: Homes are flooded and cut off from water and electricity)

During the summer, an 'unprecedented' heatwave also struck the country over the summer, causing more than 150 deaths, with over 80,000 people hospitalized. Moreover, in September, Typhoon Jebi inundated Kansai International airport and an earthquake in Hokkaido triggered landslides and disrupted supply lines.

(Left: High waves whipped up by the storm inundated Terminal 1. Right: Landslides in Hokkaido)

There were also a lot of man-made distasters and other social problems. Virtural currency was hacked, power harassement by an Olympian's coach, the Ministry of Finance’s linked to document tampering and injustice over the University’s entrance exam. Those had come to light and many people considered those as a 'disaster'.

2018 was tumultuous year for people in Japan.

We delighted that many Japanese athletes do their best in the PyeongChang Olympics, but on the other hand, we had to overcome many damages by the natural disters.

From the ZenPop team, we hope 2019 will be a great year for everyone!