kanji character for ninIn mid-November of last year DIMSDRIVE Research asked 5000 members of their internet monitor group, 50.8% of them female, to tell them what kanji character best described themselves.

There is another more famous Kanji of the Year survey performed by Kiyomizu Temple and the Kanji Kentei organisation that chose æ„›, ai, love as the character of the year, but that vote is for the character best representing the year in general, not people themselves. Given that “love” is a positive emotion, it is quite a contrast (and rather depressing) that almost all of the kanji chosen here represent negative feelings or thoughts.

For me personally, I’d probably choose ç–², tsukare, tired out.

Q: Looking back at 2005, if you were to describe your feelings with a single kanji character, which character would it be? (Free answer)

Character Reading Votes Description
忍 Nin, shinobu 184 The dictionary lists this as meaning either to endure or to conceal, spy. The most well-known English loan word containing this character is ninja. Which one of the two meanings people had in mind, I don’t know! Perhaps the endurance meaning has a hint of stoic endurance, concealing one’s true feelings?
ä¹± Ran, con, midareru 159 This usually means confused or in disorder, but can also mean riot, although the in disorder meaning is most likely the usage here.
怒 Do, ikaru, okoru 144 Angry, offended
鬱 Utsu 111 Depressed, melancholy
å¿™ Bou, isogashii 109 Busy
悲 Hi, kanashii 106 Sad
苦 Ku, kurushii, nigai 105 Anguish, bitterness
æš— An, kurai 104 Dark
変 Hen, kawaru 103 Unusual, strange or change. This is the first character of the loan word “hentai”.
耐 Tai, taeru 92 Endure

Q: Looking back at 2005, if you were to describe your feelings with a single kanji character, which character would it be? (Sample size=2,457, men only, free answer)

Character Reading Votes Description
忍 Nin, shinobu 114 Conceal, endure
ä¹± Ran, con, midareru 87 Confused, disorder
怒 Do, ikaru, okoru 82 Angry, offended
鬱 Utsu 68 Depressed, melancholy
変 Hen, kawaru 59 Unusual, strange, change
苦 Ku, kurushii, nigai 52 Anguish, bitterness
æš— An, kurai 48 Dark
耐 Tai, taeru 46 Endure
偽 Gi, nise 43 Fraud, fake.
å“€ Ai, aware 37 Pathetic, sorrow

Q: Looking back at 2005, if you were to describe your feelings with a single kanji character, which character would it be? (Sample size=2,543, women only, free answer)

Character Reading Votes Description
å¿™ Bou, isogashii 78 Busy
ä¹± Ran, con, midareru 72 Confused, disorder
悲 Hi, kanashii 72 Sad
忍 Nin, shinobu 70 Conceal, endure
怒 Do, ikaru, okoru 62 Angry, offended
æš— An, kurai 56 Dark
苦 Ku, kurushii, nigai 53 Anguish, bitterness
ç–² Hi, tsukare 52 Exhausted
楽 Raku, gaku, tanoshii 51 Finally a positive thought! Music, comfort and ease are the meanings, with this character finding its way into words like music and musical instruments, enjoyment, fun, and many other happy words.
恐 Kyou, osore 48 Fear, dread, awe

Only one positive kanji in the female top ten, and none in the male! Looking at the breakdown by age for anything positive, the third top for women in their twenties is 幸, kou, saiwai, shiawase, happiness, fortune; for those in the next age bracket, happiness is replaced by 楽, raku, gaku, tanoshii fun, appearing in second place in the rankings for thirty-something women. Happiness, however, appears nowhere in this top ten. Things are dark for the next twenty years, until finally retirement-age women choose 幸, kou, saiwai, shiawase, happiness, fortune as their top pick, and 楽, raku, gaku, tanoshii fun in sixth equal place, although the sample size for this age group is rather small.

About the only thing approaching a positive thought for men is with the sixty and over group, with the sixth most popular kanji being 改, kai, aratameru, change, reform; no doubt reaching retirement for the average salaryman requires nothing other than a massive realignment of his life.


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