The last day of each year is when I look back at what happened, what I encountered, and what impressed me much throughout the year. Then I summarize them up into some words as “the words of the year.” For example, the words of the year 2020 were Synapusyu, the handgun, and computer programming. The words of the year 2019 were Hokkaido, Mercari, and Grand Cherokee.
Sadly, I haven’t experienced very many things that impressed me this year. Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of emergency was issued nationwide in most months. As a result, I could do nothing but stay home all day long, go out shopping at the nearest supermarkets, or drive a car just a few miles away from my house.
Even on such monotonous days, I did some new things. Summarizing this year, the words of the year 2021 were Google Maps, Yurie Omi’s resignation, Tokyo Games, and death games.
I’ve been an editor of the points on Google Maps. Google account owners can look up where points are on the maps and make suggestions to edit the names of the points. Then, when Google’s staff approves them, the system reflects the new changes on the maps.
Since this year, I’ve contributed to Google Maps by suggesting Google’s staff add English names or change them into correct English ones on the points in the Japan atlas. Many of them had only Japanese names or incorrect English ones, and those were inconvenient for foreign travelers and residents who couldn’t read Japanese characters. I hope my corrections will help those people.
Yurie Omi’s resignation
Yurie Omi was an announcer and anchor for the programs of NHK, and she attracted many viewers like me through Asaichi and Bura Tamori. Then, in February, she suddenly announced she was resigning from NHK in March, then she quit.
I know last year’s sudden leakage of her marriage with one of her colleagues one year before that disappointed many male viewers, including me. Since her parents didn’t celebrate that marriage, she couldn’t make it open to the public and couldn’t help hiding the fact that she was a married woman for around one year until Shukan Shincho magazine got a scoop on it. What made me sad wasn’t only that she was already married but that her husband was as old as I, and her parents didn’t admit him because he was too much older than the 33-year-old woman.
It might be regrettable that she couldn’t take part in broadcasting any programs related to this year’s biggest event, Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. She might be sorry for not being able to continue her broadcasting career. That being said, I think she had done everything she wanted to and could do as a broadcaster. I don’t believe the announcer’s job was for her since she looked too sensible to survive as a TV personality seen and evaluated by everyone.
I read Omi got a job at Mitsui Fudosan in April to get involved in the development of the Kashiwanoha area in Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture, as she said on her last airing episode of Asaichi that she was interested in city planning and that she was going to do the job related to it. Although she might not be seen on the media anymore, I’m sure my feeling is always with her.
I was somewhat reluctant to welcome the Olympic Games held in July because such COVID-19 infection situations and Japan’s insufficient vaccination rollouts were far from people’s celebration moods. Moreover, I was irritated by the attitudes of the government and the International Olympic Committee that were compelling to hold the Games by all means without explaining anything reasonable to the people. The costly but shabby opening ceremony of the Olympics was apathetic.
Athletes’ intense competitions changed those moods. Athletes representing Japan won more medals than in all past Games. Not only medalists but all other players did their best. Furthermore, volunteers and the organizing committee staff did their best to serve the athletes and operate the Games. As a result, I felt many people were showing favorable reactions to the Tokyo Games by the time when the Paralympics were ending in September.
Spectators weren’t allowed to enter most venues this time. That being said, people were attracted by the Olympic and three-agito symbols floating offshore of Odaiba. I saw people were waiting in line before the Olympic emblem in front of the National Stadium and the cauldron in Ariake. Souvenir shops were congested at all times.
Guests from abroad looked to enjoy the Games despite the restricted environment. I read the athletes in the Olympic Village were surprised at the effective guestroom appliances, variated foods at the cafeteria, and automated bus driving throughout the village. The foreign press at Ariake’s International Broadcasting Centre looked excited by the high-tech toilets and cheap-but-tasty sandwiches sold at the convenience stores. After the Paralympics ended, I saw the members of Teams Iran, Kenya, and UAE taking return flights and entering the security check at Narita Airport, saying, “Thank you, Japan!”
The four-week Games nationally prepared for years were, incompletely and safely, over.
A Korean Netflix drama, Squid Game, got popular worldwide this year. It is a drama where losers in Korean society are forced to participate in death games that Western celebrities watch over for gambling. I was very impressed because I found it was satirical entertainment. And I got to know that the dramas and movies of this genre are originated from Japan, such as Battle Royale (2000) by Hiroharu Takami, As The God’s Will (2014) by Takashi Miike, and Kaiji (2009).
Such kill-or-be-killed scenes did exist here in Japan in reality just fifty years ago. From the end of December 1971, terrorists of a communist group, the United Red Army, lynched their mates at a concealed hut in the northern Kanto area, causing 12 deaths. Today fifty years ago, the torture leaders tied up some members to posts outside in the winter’s harsh mountain climate for their trivial mistakes and ordered other members to beat them until they lost consciousness. Most of the victims died of hypothermia. Some members were slaughtered with knives. The bodies of the dead were buried in the woods near the camp. Anyone in the hut could be a victim, depending on how the leaders decided. Some of those who took part in this torture became torture targets later. These carnages lasted until the leaders were arrested in February 1972.
The words of each year are summarized in this table.
|2021||Google Maps; Yurie Omi’s resignation; Tokyo Games; death games|
|2020||Synapusyu; the handgun; computer programming|
|2019||Hokkaido; Mercari; Grand Cherokee|
|2018||cashless; Japanese language; comeback|
|2017||Yurie Omi; NHK; shingles; English exams|
|2016||traveling to places in Japan; mapping; Jeep|
|2015||Maine, United States; Estonia; transfer of workplace|
|2013||Ayurveda; Korea; high school alumni; Tsuyoshi Takashiro|
|2012||Oji; the mahjong; the flight attendant; Facebook|
|2011||the car; the British culture; China|
|2010||Taiwan, Singapore, and Malaysia; iPhone; the credit card|
|2009||office position change; MacBook Pro; JR Seishun 18 Ticket|
|2007||changing my car; visiting Hawaii|
|2006||the US stock; the mutual fund|
|2005||darts; the GSM and WCDMA mobile phone; visiting Hong Kong again|
|2004||the blog; Asian countries (Singapore and Hong Kong); the GSM mobile phone|
|2003||the airplane; the musical|
|2001||getting a flat within the Tokyo metropolitan area; a position change at the office; Soarer|