‘Superhuman’ slugger tops year’s list of buzzwords

by

Staff Writer

A superhuman effort on the baseball field inspired the top buzzword of the year, it was announced Thursday, in a contest that highlights social, political and entertainment trends.

The winning entry was kamitteru, or superhuman behavior, honoring the clutch performance of Hiroshima Toyo Carp outfielder Seiya Suzuki.

The phrase was used by the team’s manager, Koichi Ogata, when Suzuki hit a game-ending home run for the second straight day against the Orix Buffaloes in June.

“I’m not the one who said kamitteru, so it’s a bit difficult to react, but I’m very happy about it,” Suzuki said at an awards ceremony held at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward.

His team won this year’s Central League championship for the first time in 25 years. “I will never forget that kamitteru was awarded in a great year for Hiroshima Toyo Carp,” he said.

The Jiyukokuminsha publishing house also announced nine other winners in the 2016 U-Can Shingo Ryukogo Taisho (2016 U-Can New Words and Buzzwords Awards).

Winners last year included phrases pointed at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, such as Abe seiji wo yurusanai (We will not tolerate Abe’s politics) on the Diet’s passage of controversial security bills, as well as “SEALDs,” based on the massive protests organized by the bills’ opponents.

Another winner was Hoikuen ochita. Nihon shine (Didn’t get a day care slot. Drop dead, Japan) targets Abe’s ichioku sokatsuyaku shakai (dynamic engagement of all citizens) plan. The remark was used in a blog post penned by an anonymous writer who was angry with the ongoing day care shortage. Becoming a hot topic, it made its way into debates in the Diet and triggered promises of legislative change from lawmakers.

Two entertainment buzzwords were also selected as winners: PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen), a smash-hit video by comedian Pikotaro that earned Guinness World Record honors as the shortest song to break the Billboard Hot 100, and “Pokemon Go,” an augmented reality smartphone game that appealed to both hardcore and casual players of all ages.

The editorial team of the weekly Shukan Bunshun magazine was also recognized for the buzzword gesu furin (sleazy affairs), in response to the magazine’s many scoops this year on adultery committed by celebrities.

Other winners include seichi junrei (holy pilgrimage), Toranpu gensho (The Trump phenomenon), amoore (love), mainasu kinri (negative interest rates) and morido (layer of clean soil).

The six-member selection committee included political scientist Kang Sang-jung, poet Machi Tawara and manga author Mitsuru Yaku. The group was without its former leader Shuntaro Torigoe, a journalist who was defeated by Yuriko Koike in this year’s Tokyo gubernatorial election.

Here are some explanations of the year’s top buzzwords:

Grand prize:

Kamitteru 神ってる (blessed with God-like skills)

The Carp
The Carp’s Seiya Suzuki celebrates with fans after his walk-off home run in June. | KYODO

The phrase, which has been used among teens for years, literally means to receive the spirit of the gods. It is used to characterize superhuman or miraculous behavior. This year, the word was linked with the Hiroshima Carp’s heroic victory in the Central League championship. After outfielder Suzuki hit a sayonara home run for the second straight day, manager Koichi Ogata used “kamitteru” to describe the performance. Ogata said he picked the word up from his kids.

Other winners include:

Gesu furin ゲス不倫 (sleazy affair)

The phrase, meaning an embarrassing and scandalous love affair, was coined in February after tabloids discovered an amorous relationship between popular Japanese TV personality known as Becky and the married frontman of Japanese rock band Gesu no Kiwami Otome, Enon Kawatani.


seichi junrei 聖地巡礼 (holy pilgrimage)

Hyogo Prefecture
Hyogo Prefecture’s government used this booth at the Hong Kong Book Fair 2016 to promote its anime locations. | KYODO

While this phrase literally refers to religious pilgrimages to holy sites, it has adapted a new meaning: the act of visiting the real-life location from an anime, movie or TV drama setting or film location. Fans today make special trips to the exact spots of their favorite scenes, causing tourist attractions based on the works to become more and more popular.


Toranpu genshou トランプ現象 (The Trump phenomenon)

 Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop New Hampshire in late November
Donald Trump speaks during a campaign stop New Hampshire in late November | KYODO

Donald Trump surprisingly won the U.S. presidential election in November by attracting supporters with his aggressive rhetoric and deepened divides in the U.S.


PPAP

“PPAP (Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen)” — the global smash hit by Pikotaro, a flamboyant character created and played by comedian Kazuhito (aka Daimaou) Kosaka — earned a Guinness World Record by being the shortest song (at just 45 seconds) to break the Billboard Hot 100 (at No. 77). The song’s popularity was boosted by praise from Justin Bieber, and a slew of covers from famous and clever YouTubers.


“Hoikuen ochita. Nihon shine” 保育園落ちた。日本死ね (“Didn’t get a day care slot. Drop dead, Japan”)

The vociferous reactions were a
The vociferous reactions were a ‘total surprise,’ the blogger told The Japan Times via email in March. | ISTOCK

The exclamation was used in a blog post penned by an anonymous writer who was angry with the ongoing day care shortage. Frustrated parents heard the rally call and become vocal in protests demanding an increase in day care centers. The hot topic even made its way into debates in the Diet and triggered promises of legislative change from lawmakers.


amoore アモーレ (love)

Yuto Nagamoto
Yuto Nagamoto | KYODO

In June, Japan soccer player Yuto Nagatomo admitted that he was dating actress Airi Taira, saying, “She is my ’amore’ (love).” Taira was seen cheering in the stands for Nagatomo at a match later in the year.


“Pokemon Go” (ポケモンゴー)

A woman plays
A woman plays ‘Pokemon Go’ game on her smartphone in front of a McDonald’s restaurant in Tokyo’s Akihabara shopping district. | AFP-JIJI

Since the summer release of “Pokemon Go” — based on Nintendo’s beloved characters and powered by Niantic’s augmented reality magic — the smartphone game app has garnered appeal from both hardcore and casual players of all ages. Much to the chagrin of people in Japan, the game launched first in the U.S. and other countries weeks before being released here. The delay didn’t dilute its popularity, thought as hundreds of players in search of rare characters swarmed in Pokemon hunting spots such as  areas such around Ueno and Inokashira parks, day and night.


mainasu kinri マイナス金利 (negative interest rates)

The Bank of Japan building in Tokyo.
The Bank of Japan building in Tokyo. | BLOOMBERG

A monetary policy measure adopted by the Bank of Japan in January effectively imposed a charge on some reserves held by financial institutions and forced them to lend or invest more to help underpin growth. Major banks opposed the policy saying it could damage their earnings and subsequently derail the country’s economy.


morido 盛り土 (layer of clean soil)

Reporters investigate ground water in the basement of the new Toyosu produce market in September.
Reporters investigate ground water in the basement of the new Toyosu produce market in September. | MAGDALENA OSUMI

New Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike postponed the November relocation of a wholesale market in Tsukiji to a new site on reclaimed and possibly toxic land in the Toyosu area after finding that, contrary to initial plans, a layer of fresh soil was missing underneath the main structures.

All of the nominated 50 words and phrases for 2016.