Each year the organization that publishes the Standardized Kanji Test announces the “kanji of the year,” the single character that best sums up the events of the past twelve months. The kanji character is announced at a ceremony at the beautiful Kiyomizu Dera temple in Kyoto, one of Japan’s most famous places, and the head Buddhist priest of the temple draws the character on a large sheet of paper while everyone watches. The character for 2010 has been announced, and it’s….atsui (暑), meaning “hot.” 2010 was definitely an incredibly hot year in Japan, which unfortunately saw the deaths of many hundreds of elderly due to heat stroke. The kanji for previous years have included shin (new) in 2009, a year of renewal; hen (change) in 2008, covering the many changes that happened that year; inochi (life) in 2006, a year so many young people committed suicide; ai (love), after the birth of Princess Masako’s daughter Ai in 2005; sai (disaster), in tragedy-laden 2004; and tora (tiger), celebrating the rare Hanshin Tigers victory in the Japan Series in 2003.
The kanji of the year for 2010 is “hot.”