The Word of the Year 2011 in Japan
The Japan Kanji Association announced on the 12th of December, the word of the year. There were many words related to the earthquake and between them, the word selected was 絆, KIZUNA means bond.
I think this year was or is the year which made us think about the connection between people. Japanese people have a lot of courtesies and are known to be a kind nation. But at the same time they have a quite strong tribal sense, I mean for them it´s very important in which group you belong to. If you aren´t in the same group, they can be quite cold (indirectly though). But this is another story.
Then this tragedy happened in March. Not only the quake but Tsunami took many many lives which left tons of difficulties for the people in Touhoku to continue normal life. It wasn´t enough. Part of Fukushima prefecture has become an inhabitable area, moreover, the food products have been affected hugely.
All through the year, I´ve seen and heard many articles and news about people who are trying to help the people in the affected area. They are not a big organization, they are individuals or small groups of people. While the government were hesitating to send the army helicopter to carry supply to the devastating area, those small groups of people ran up there and provided miso soup or onigiri (rice balls).
This year, we thought about the bond between people. Many lost their family member, those who didn´t also thought about the people who are suffering. We´ve realised how important to connect to other people, because we can´t live alone.
Today, at one of the World Heritage Sites, Kiyomizu temple, the head monk, Seihan Mori (森清範) wrote a big 絆 in calligraphy. This event started the year there was Hanshin Earthquake (阪神大震災) in 1995 and this year is the 17th year since then. And the first word was 震 (shin / quake).
Hope we don´t lose this bond next year.
More about the Kanji of the year