Bonds 絆 chosen as 2011 Kanji of the year

Every year the Japanese people choose one kanji character that represents the society’s sentiment regarding the year that is coming to an end. The most voted character this year has been 絆 (kizuna, きずな), which means “bonds”, normally used when talking about the bonds and collaboration among people, friends, family… In this case it has been chosen to represent how united the Japanese people and the whole world have been when facing what happened 9 months ago in Tohoku.

Once the kanji of the year is chosen it is publicly announced by writing it in Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto.

kanji bonds
A monk writing 絆 this morning

InoKashira VS InoGashira

Japanese language is written using three alphabets: Hiragana, Katakana and Kanji. However since Japan began being “connected” to the Western world there have been several attempts to write the Japanese language using our alphabet. The basic idea of all these attempts consists on emulating the pronunciation of Japanese characters the best possible way using the Latin alphabet. Even though none of the attempts has been perfect the most used method nowadays is the Hepburn romanization.

I have never taken really seriously to learn perfectly the rules to write Japanese with our alphabet because I find it quite absurd; it’s like if I would try to write English with Japanese characters. However it is true that for some people it’s quite useful to start learning the language; although I don’t recommend it. It is hard, but it is better to start learning Japanese directly with hiragana.

Notice for example this sign where the word 井の頭 is written as inoKashira and then as inoGashira. To say the truth, the word is quite complicated, technically it would be written inoKashira, but when pronouncing it in Japanese quickly it sounds more like what would be written inoGashira. It’s not something very relevant but it’s funny to see the word written in different ways in the same sign!



Japanglish is the kind of humorous English language usually seen around Japan characterized by a poor translation from Japanese to English. The results of those literal translations can be very funny. Japanglish is also known as Engrish.

Miguel Michán has sent me this great Japanglish example.

Can somebody decipher this Japanglish text?

Other Japanglish posts: