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Sleepless in Tokyo

   Every December first, U-CAN Inc., a publisher of correspondence courses and educational software, releases a list of new and popular words which capture the zeitgeist of the year. In previous years, winners of the top honor have included: "revenge" (リベンジ) coined by Daisuke Matsuzaka in 1999 when he lost to the Chiba Lotte Marines and vowed to get ribenji; "manifest" (マニフェスト) in 2003 which has since come to mean campaign promises; "around forty" (アラフォー) originating from a TBS drama of the same name staring the former Takarazukaactress Yûki Amami, and in 2010, iPad.

   This year edaru (枝る, edaru) must surely be the favorite to win the prize in 2011. Meaning "to work without sleep or break" (不眠不休で働く) or "work to the extreme of exhaustion (極限まで睡眠を取らないこと・寝る間も惜しんで働くこと), the word is derived from the name of Yukio Edano, Chief Cabinet Secretary in the Kan government, who by some accounts went for more than 100 hours without sleep as he dealt with the twin crises of the tsunami and subsequent explosions at the Fukushima reactor site

   The frequency of Edano's appearances on television was cause for concern not only for viewers in Japan but in neighboring Korea as well, inpriring Twitter users to post messages of encouragement and pleas to get some sleep. The Twitter hashtag #edano_nero" (from the imperative word for sleep!) and #edano_go_to_bed were at one time trending in Japan.

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