They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but in Japan every year people try to distill an entire year’s worth of words into a single picture…or logograph if you want to get technical about it.

Last year, after tens of thousands of votes were counted, 輪 pronounced rin or wa and meaning “ring” was selected to represent the nations various achievements of 2013 such as winning the bid for the Olympic games and having Mt. Fuji designated as a World Heritage Site.

And today, after the Buddhist monk approached the canvas of Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto, this kanji above is what he painted under a fittingly gloomy and cloud-filled sky.

The kanji for 2014 is none other than 税 pronounced zei which means “tax” in English. This was clearly a reference to the one event that stood out in Japanese people’s minds in 2014, the sales tax hike back in April along with the threat of further hikes later on.

This symbol received the most votes of any other out of the 167,613 votes cast. The runners up included 熱 (netsu) meaning “heat” or “fever” possibly in reference to the Ebola outbreak, and 嘘 (uso) which means “lie” probably aimed at the disgraced scientists involved in the STAP cell scandal over the first half of the year. Needless to say, it would seem people in Japan didn’t have many fond memories of 2014.

We’ll leave you now with an ancient RocketNews24 tradition spanning back several minutes. I shall write the official kanji of 2014, with my finger on an iPad. Silence please…

Thank you, and try to have a better 2015.

Source: Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Public Interest Foundation, Yahoo! News (Japanese)
Video: YouTube – ANNnewsCH

If you weren’t satisfied with my finger calligraphy and want to watch some amateur priest do it, here’s a video.