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Tweet of the Week #160: The Kanji of the Year is Gold

Is "gold" really how you want to define 2021?

By 2 min read

Every December, Japan’s Kanji Proficiency Society reveals the kanji (Japanese alphabet) of the year, a symbol based on a nationwide survey. Last year’s kanji みつ was chosen to relate to the government’s slogan “avoid the san-mitsu (close contact, poor ventilation or crowded) and reflect the atmosphere of the pandemic in Japan.

This year’s kanji, きん (gold) was a reference to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. It drew some criticism online, as (some) people felt the choice was an insult to financially struggling businesses and families. It’s also dull because this is the fourth time this kanji has been chosen, following 2000, 2012 and 2016.

Many tweeps jumped on the opportunity to make puns based on the Japanese pronunciation “きん” which can either be 金 (gold) or 菌 (germ or bacteria). Others used it as a jab at Japan’s elite class and the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).

Stay gold


2021にせんにじゅーいちねん 「#今年ことし漢字かんじだい1いちは「きん」でした✨✨




“First place for the 2021 kanji of the year was ‘gold.’

It won first place with 10,422 (4.66%) votes out of 223,773 submissions.

Thank you for all the entries.

Information on the second place will be announced shortly!”

Fourth time’s the charm





“I’ll never forget Mayor Kawamura biting into his gold medal.

This year’s kanji is [gold] due to the rush of medals from the Tokyo Olympics and financial aid for the coronavirus.

The Kanji of the Year describes the world in 2021 in one character—[gold].

This is the fourth time [gold] has been chosen after 2000, 2012 and 2016.”




“This year’s kanji is [gold].

Maybe it’s a misprint for [germs].”

Eat the rich


“Apparently [money] was chosen as this year’s kanji because of the [money-grubbing Liberal Democratic Party] and the [money-grubbing IOC!]”


Japanese Romaji English
今年ことし kotoshi This year
漢字かんじ kanji Kanji
だい1いち dai ichi i First place
応募おうぼ oubo Application
総数そうすう sousuu Total, amount
びょう hyou Ballot, poll, vote
あつめる atsumeru Gather, collect
多数たすう tasuu Plenty, numerous
以下いか ika under
情報じょうほう jouhou Information
って oitte Later on

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