At Kyoto’s Kiyomizu Temple, 今年の漢字 (kotoshi no kanji), or the kanji of the year was just announced to be 絆 (kizuna) or bonds between people. According to the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society, the rationale behind its selection based on ideas from the public was that in a disaster-ridden year that brought a nation closer together, kizuna best reflects the events of 2011. These bonds include those among family members, friends and neighbors, as well as refers to support from abroad. It was chosen with the hope that the world will continue to coalesce to help restore Japan.
As for how this year’s お正月 (oshougatsu) nine months after the disaster will be spent, it seems as if most people are being low-key and staying close to home due to 3-11. Many are still in mourning for the lives that were lost, and this probably will continue until the one-year anniversary next year. People aren’t even sure what to write on their new year’s cards, as the typical 新年おめでとう (shinnen omedetou) or “Happy New Year!” may not be appropriate. Below are some suggestions (in Japanese) for what to write on 年賀状 (nengajou) to those in the disaster area.