Japan kanji of the year is ‘ring’ after Olympics bid

Monday, December 16th, 2013. Filed under: Sports & Recreation
Seihan Mori, the chief priest of Kyoto's famous Kiyomizu temple, displays his caligraphy of a kanji (or Chinese character), "wa" meaning "ring", which was selected as the single best kanji to symbolize the year 2013 at the temple in Kyoto, western Japan on December 12, 2013. ©AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS

Seihan Mori, the chief priest of Kyoto’s famous Kiyomizu temple, displays his caligraphy of a kanji (or Chinese character), “wa” meaning “ring”, which was selected as the single best kanji to symbolize the year 2013 at the temple in Kyoto, western Japan on December 12, 2013.
©AFP PHOTO / JIJI PRESS

(TOKYO-AFP) – The annual “kanji” Chinese character of the year in Japan went to “ring” Thursday, after Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics, often referred to in local print media as “five rings.”

In an event televised nationally, the top monk at world-famous Kiyomizu Temple in the ancient capital of Kyoto drew the character with a large calligraphy brush, whose bristles were the size of a bowling pin, on a huge piece of paper.

The character, which can be read either as “rin” or as “wa” depending on the context, was chosen following months of positive coverage by the media and acclamation from business for Tokyo’s successful bid to host the summer Games.

The 19th annual event was organised by a private association that tries to promote use and knowledge of kanji, the characters that came to Japan from China more than 1,000 years ago, and one of three writing systems for Japanese.

The group said nearly 10,000 out of total 170,290 people who sent in their nominations supported “ring” as the character of the year.

Last year’s winner was “gold”. The winner in 2008, just after Barack Obama was elected was “change”.

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