TOKYO (AFP) – After helping Barack Obama sweep to victory in the US election, the president-elect's motto of "change" was Friday declared character of the year by a monk at one of Japan's most revered temples.Using a calligraphy brush to write the single character on a wooden platform as tourists looked on, Seihan Mori, chief monk at Kiyomizu temple in the ancient capital of Kyoto, declared "change" to be Japan's character of the year.
The event was hosted by a Kyoto-based group that promotes the use of "kanji," the Chinese characters used in the Japanese language.
The public sent in 111,200 nominations for the kanji of the year.
Of those, a majority 5.42 percent endorsed "change," followed by "gold," suggesting the Beijing Olympics, and "fall" to reflect the global market plunge.
"I think it is an expression of the Japanese people's wishes to see political, economic and societal changes, as they were impressed by Mr. Obama's message of change," Mori said.
He added that the term's significance also came into prominence because of the world's growing attention to the impact of climate change.
"What is important to note, however, is that it is (the individual) who must change," he said.
13 December 2008
The Kiyomizu temple dates back to 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633. It takes its name from the Otowa waterfall, where three channels of water drop into a pond within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills.