Because one of Japan’s Asian neighbors had the nation’s eyes looking north again and again this year.

Every December, Japan’s Kanji Proficiency Society announces the results of its annual survey in which it asks respondents to pick the kanji, or Japanese character, that sums up the atmosphere and events of the year that’s drawing to a close. For this year, that kanji is 北, meaning “north” and pronounced kita when used by itself.

As has become custom, the announcement was made in a ceremony at Kiyomizu Temple in Kyoto’s Higashiyama Ward, where abbot Seihan Mori wrote the character with brush and ink to commemorate its selection.

The selection of kita was strongly connected with it being the first kanji in 北朝鮮/Kita Chosen, the Japanese-language name for North Korea. In 2017, multiple missile launches by North Korea, some of which flew over Japan, repeatedly put Japanese residents on edge and even prompted the production of a public service “what to do in the case of a missile launch” safety manga.

Other kita-related stories in 2017 included a potato shortage in Hokkaido (written 北海道 in Japanese), which disrupted potato chip production in Japan, and record-setting rainfall that damaged infrastructure in Kita Kyushu, the northern region of Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu. It wasn’t all bad news, though, as Hokkaido’s professional baseball team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters, welcomed freshly drafted college baseball star Kotaro Kiyomiya to the team, and also bid a bittersweet yet proud farewell to two-way pitching/batting superstar Shohei Otani, who announced he will be leaving the team to join California’s Angels in the U.S. Major League.

Still, there was definitely more bad than good that went into kita becoming 2017’s kanji of the year, where it follows recent predecessors “gold,” “safety,” “tax,” and “ring.” Hopefully things won’t go south next year, and happier events will play a role in 2018’s kanji selection.

Source: Livedoor News
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