The Japan Series was not the only thing the Hanshin Tigers won this year, with “A.R.E” — based on the Japanese word “are,” meaning “that” — crowned buzzword of the year, after team manager Akinobu Okada popularized the term as an indirect reference to victory.
“Are” began being used to avoid saying “win” out loud in an effort to not jinx the team’s chances of winning the league championship. It later morphed into A.R.E., an acronym that became the team’s slogan for the year, standing for Aim, Respect and Empower. It appeared to work its magic, with the team, the subject of a supposed KFC-related curse, winning its first Japan Series in 38 years.
“Baseball is a team sport so you can’t do it alone — by continuing to win games thanks to everyone’s effort, in Kansai, newspapers and media would introduce the term ‘are’ every single day, leading to a way bigger response than I ever imagined,” Okada said. “It really hyped up Kansai and the sports industry as a whole — I’m glad to have been able to contribute even a little to that.”