“Sen,” the kanji for war or battle, was chosen by the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation to represent 2022.
The foundation’s 28th annual poll collected votes cast by the general public to illustrate the social mood of the country this year.
The kanji was revealed at the famous Buddhist temple Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto by chief Buddhist priest Seihan Mori, who wrote the symbol on washi paper with a giant calligraphy brush.
“I wrote the character, in hopes that the battles will end as soon as possible,” said Mori.
— 2022年「今年の漢字」 (@Kotoshinokanji) December 12, 2022
According to a press release by the foundation, voters cited Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, North Korean missile launches, the shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Coronavirus and inflation as factors in their decision.
“The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, the shooting of former Prime Minister Abe, and the rapid yen depreciation and inflation faced in daily life have caused anxiety for many people,” said the foundation.
The kanji for war was also chosen in 2001, the same year of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.
Voters also noted the usage of the kanji to mean battle, with many choosing the symbol as a double entendre underscoring both hardship and the country’s accomplishments, particularly in sports.
“Beijing Olympics with 18 medals, a record for Japan, Sota Fujii, the first 10-year-old shogi player to achieve five crowns, Sendai Ikuei’s victory in Koshien, invasion of Ukraine, Japan national soccer team’s victory over Germany, etc… This year has a variety of competitions, which is good. But I think it was a year of battle that will remain in people’s hearts even in a bad way,” said one voter.
“There were many impressive events in sports, such as the Beijing Olympics, the soccer World Cup, a complete professional baseball game, and Shohei Otani’s double-digit win and double-digit home run,” another responded.
Last year, the kanji for gold, “kin” was chosen to celebrate the country’s 27 gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics.
Feature image via Japan Forward