The year is wrapping up, and that means…it’s time to reflect on the past year through the Kanji of the Year and see the Chinese character that sums up 2018 best, as chosen by the Kanji Standardized Testing Association and voted on by online users. The 2018 kanji of the year is 災 sai, meaning disaster, calamity, and misfortune. It was a very hard year from Japan, with strong earthquakes in Osaka and Hokkaido that claimed more than 30 dead between them, the strongest typhoon in 25 years that killed 11, terrible rainfall and flooding that killed 225 in July, and a heatwave in August that killed 133 from heat exhaustion, including five in a hospital which experienced an air conditioning failure.
It’s fun to look back at past Kanji of the Year kanji characters, which included 北 (north) for 2017, a year when North Korea was in the news at every turn; 金 (gold) for 2016, to express Japan’s joy at winning the 2020 Tokyo Olympics; 偽 (lie) for 2007, a year that saw food mislabeling scandals; 命 (life) in 2006, the year that Japan’s terrible suicide problem seemed at its worst; and 絆 (bonds, as in the important social bonds that connect us all to each other) in 2011, the year of the terrible earthquake in northern Japan that took the lives of more than 15,000 people and saw the entire world rush to aid Japan’s recovery.
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