“Nadeshiko Japan,” the nickname of the women’s national soccer team, has been awarded a high-profile prize for being the No. 1 buzzword of the year.
A selection panel of U-can Inc., an education and career support company, every year chooses 10 buzzwords for the U-can Shingo Ryukogo Taisho prizes.
Five of this year’s top 10 words are related to the March 11 quake-tsunami disaster.
The soccer team became a national sensation when it scored its stunning triumph in the World Cup in Germany in July, providing hope and vitality as the country struggles to recover from the devastation of the triple whammy in March from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.
The disaster-related phrases that generated the most buzz are “kizuna” (human bonds), “kitaku nanmin” (“refugees” who can’t get home) “kodama de shouka?” (is that just an echo?), “3.11” and “fuhyohigai” (harm caused by unfounded rumors).
Kizuna came in for repeated use by people and the media to emphasize the importance of human sympathy and relationships in helping survivors of the monster disaster.
Kitaku nanmin refers to people who have difficulty going home due to transportation disruptions after a natural disaster.
Kodama de shouka is a phrase from a poem by poet Misuzu Kaneko that was used in a public service commercial by the Advertising Council of Japan. The ad was aired numerous times after the disaster to say that people respond with kindness when treated kindly by others, in repetition.
Fuhyohigai has been often used to refer to severe financial damage farmers and fishermen suffered due to public fears of radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
The selection committee didn’t rank the nine words after Nadeshiko Japan, which received massive media coverage this year. No Japanese national team, male or female, had before been crowned world champion by FIFA.
Nadeshiko is a flower unique to Japan, and the word is often used to describe beautiful and strong Japanese women.
Other words making the top list included “suma-ho,” an abbreviation of smartphone and “dojo naikaku” (loach Cabinet), a nickname for the Cabinet of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. A loach is considered ugly and humble.
Winner “Doya-gao” refers to a facial expression of a self-satisfied person, a term often used by Kansai comedians to make fun of people putting on airs.
“Rabu chunyu” (love injection) is a popular nonsense phrase used by gay comic Tanoshingo, who utters this when he makes his signature gesture of forming a heart shape with his fingers.