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This Year in Japanese

Toward the end of each year, the Japanese select words, phrases, and kanji that best represent how they and their nation fared over the past 12 months. Here we explore the characters and terminology that Japan chooses to describe itself and its national experience.

“So Da Nē!” Hokkaidō Curlers Provide 2018’s Top Word of the Staff

At a Tokyo ceremony held on December 3, the publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha announced its 10 finalists for “Words of the Year,” along with the grand prize winner: So da nē, a phrase that won public favor and fame when the national women’s curling squad used it to encourage one another—“Yeah, that’s it!”—at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February.

On Everyone’s Lips: Candidates Announced for the Top Words of Staff

As the year end approaches, the nation gears up to look back on the 12 months that were. The publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha on November 7 issued its list of 30 candidates for the words or phrases of the year—the terms that best encapsulated the Japanese zeitgeist for 2018. Read on to see how Japan is talking about its year.

A Year of Japanese Searches: The Top Internet Keywords of 2017

The top Japanese search terms for 2017 as announced by Google and Yahoo. All the personalities, products, and news stories that got Japan’s web-surfers looking for more information.

Storming the Dictionary: The Top New Japanese Words for 2017

Two of Japan’s leading dictionary publishers announce their top new words of 2017. An overview of the some of the most popular vocabulary to enter Japanese in recent times.

Kanji of the Year: “Kita” the Northern Winner for 2017

In a year of political action at home and uncertainty on the international front, the Japanese public decided that 北 (kita or hoku), meaning “north,” was the kanji best expressing what 2017 meant to them. Read on to learn why and to see the top 10 finishers in this year’s Kanji of the Year competition.

2017: The Winning Words

This year’s “Words of the Year” have been announced. Winning top honors for 2017 were insuta-bae, meaning everything that makes a photo worthy of posting to Instagram, and sontaku, the “surmising of wishes” that figured largely in the year’s political news. Below we list the 10 finalists and look at the judges’ reasons for choosing the two winners.

The Words of Staff

Jiyū Kokumin Sha, a publisher of language reference texts, has released its highly anticipated nominees for Japan’s “Words of the Year.” Read on to learn the 30 terms and phrases that encapsulate 2017 for the Japanese public.

What Japanese Search For: The Top Internet Keywords of 2016

Major search engines Google and Yahoo! Japan released their top Japanese search terms for 2016. The rankings provide insight into topics that most interested Japanese net users.

Dictionary Pros Pick Their Top New Words for 2016

Two major dictionary publishers have announced their new words of the year for 2016. As the Japanese language continues to evolve, it borrows and coins new terms at a rapid clip—and these, say the publishers, are the ones most likely to stick around long enough to end up in their dictionaries.

Another Golden Year for Kanji

The year 2016 was tumultuous and unpredictable by most people’s standards. But the kanji that best represents the year, as chosen by public vote in a keenly followed annual contest, was one that never goes out of style: 金, pronounced kin or kane and meaning “gold” or “money.”

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