Kanji Day in Japan Date in the current year: December 12, 2024

Kanji Day in Japan Kanji Day is celebrated in Japan on December 12 each year. On this day, the kanji of the year is announced at a special ceremony. It is chosen by the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society through a national ballot.

The modern writing system of the Japanese language is a combination of two character types: kanji (adopted logographic Chinese characters) and kana (two types of syllabic writing, hiragana and katakana).

The Japanese term kanji is literally translated as “Han [Chinese] characters”. In Standard Chinese, the same characters are called hànzì. Chinese characters first came to Japan on various items imported from China. The Japanese language had no writing system so bilingual Chinese officials employed at the Japanese court began to use Chinese characters to write documents in Japanese around the 5th century.

Modern kanji characters are different from hànzì. Many kanji have a different meaning in Japanese than in Chinese. Some kanji are simplified versions of the corresponding hànzì. Besides, there are purely Japanese kanji that have no counterparts in Chinese. There are more than 50,000 kanji characters in Japanese, but only 2,000 to 3,000 characters are commonly used.

The kanji of the year has been chosen through a national ballot since 1995. The character of the year typically represents the most important event or events of the year. For example, in 1995 the character with most votes was shin (meaning quake) in honor of the Great Hanshin earthquake, also known as Kobe earthquake, that occurred on January 17, 1995.

The announcement ceremony is held at Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple in Kyoto, on December 12. This day is known in Japan as Kanji Day.

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