A lot happened in 2023, you only need to look at the language to get a sense of it.

In sports, the Hanshin Tigers ended their 38-year drought and won the Japan Series; in politics, there was the Israel-Hamas war and Ukraine’s slow counteroffensive against Russia; and in climate news, Japan experienced its hottest summer and autumn on record amid growing concerns over how we treat the planet.

With all this going on, the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation announced its pick for the annual 今年の漢字 (kotoshi no kanji, kanji of the year). It’s a tradition that started in 1995, and can sometimes give us an indication as to what’s going on in the minds of the Japanese public. Or, at least, the people who vote on the kanji.