The kanji "sai" meaning "disaster" was picked as the Chinese character best describing this year's social mood in Japan, amid a string of natural and man-made calamities, a Kyoto-based kanji promotion organization said Wednesday.

Chief Buddhist priest Seihan Mori of the Kiyomizu Temple wrote the character 1.5 meters in length and 1.3 meters in width with a giant calligraphy brush on "washi," or Japanese paper, in the annual year-end event at the temple in Kyoto where the kanji of the year was announced.

The selection came as Japan was buffeted this year by torrential rains in western Japan and an earthquake on the northernmost main island of Hokkaido, heightening public awareness of the importance of disaster prevention measures.

Japan was also rocked by man-made calamities such as stolen cryptocurrencies and the discovery of harassment by coaches in the athletic world.

The selection of the word was based on votes cast by the general public. Among a total of 193,214 entries received this year, "sai" ranked first with 20,858 entries, according to the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation.

Last year, "north" was selected, reflecting heightened tensions due to North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.