Seihan Mori, chief priest of Kiyomizudera temple, draws “kin” for this year’s kanji in Kyoto. (Pool)

KYOTO--Fittingly and not surprisingly, "kin," or gold, was selected as the kanji most capturing the mood of 2021, the year Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics for the second time. 

In what has become a household event, Seihan Mori, 81, chief priest of the renowned Kiyomizudera temple here, on Dec. 13 drew kin with a calligraphy brush on traditional “washi” paper measuring 1.5 meters long and 1.3 meters wide.

The Kyoto-based Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation solicits submissions for the kanji of the year from the public by postcards and online. The foundation selects the one that recorded the most submissions.

There were 10,422 votes for kin out of 223,773 submissions, putting it at the top of a list of nominees.

Those suggesting kin cited the haul of gold medals that Japanese athletes won in the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer and the records achieved by Japanese two-way baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani, including winning a Major League Baseball MVP Award, according to the foundation.

Some pushed the character, which also means money, pointing to the public debate over cash handouts by the government for businesses and people suffering from the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The runner-up was “wa,” which means ring, another kanji associated with the Olympics, with 10,304 votes. The kanji that came in third place was “raku,” which means comfort, with 6,165 submissions.

The selection of kanji of the year began in 1995. Last year, “mitsu” (crowded) received the most entries, reflecting the frequent references to it by health officials calling for the public not to stay in enclosed, crowded places as a precaution against the coronavirus.