The life insurance branch of the Sumitomo mega-conglomerate has chosen every year since 1989 a four-character kanji combination that best represents the year just ended.
It is moreover a play on words on another, actual four-character expression.
The winner from 2009, recently chosen, was:
In Roman letters, this is rendered Toso senso.
It is a play on the following expression:
The meaning of this expression (based on the four characters: "east - rush - west - run") is "crisscross," "run around" - or just to "be busy."
The winner for 2009 - 遠奔千走 - however has replaced the first and third characters. The reading is the same, but it now, literally, means:
"distant - rush - thousand - run"
That is a reference to the Hatoyama government's implementation of the flat toll fee of 1,000 yen to drive any distance on Japan's highways - and the resulting traffic jams.
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Thursday, January 14, 2010