TOKYO — A 12-year-old Indian boy earned the title of champion in this year’s spelling bee contest in Japan on Sunday, with his winning word “forbearance.”


Ariya Narayanasamy, from the India International School in Japan, beat 39 other contestants aged 7 to 14. He will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington in May.


“I feel very happy. This moment is very surreal to me,” Narayanasamy said after winning the trophy at the contest in Tokyo. “I’ve studied for this a lot and now it’s finally coming true.”


At the event, organized by The Japan Times, the country’s oldest English-language newspaper, competitors took turns to spell out difficult English words and were eliminated on misspelling them.


The contenders were allowed to ask the presenter for a definition of the word, an alternative pronunciation and how it is used in a sentence.


Narayanasamy became the winner in the 28th round. The seventh-grader from the international school’s Tokyo campus, who had participated in past contests, said he very often used Quizlet, an online learning tool, to have fun while studying English words.


For spelling bee hopefuls, he advised them to “remain calm” and ask for a definition or usage if they do not know the presented word.


Before participating in the 10th Japan Times Bee, the contestants had to win in their school competitions. Many of them attend international schools or schools on U.S. military bases.


The Scripps National Spelling Bee was started in 1925 by nine newspapers to help students improve their English literacy. The winner of the U.S. final will be able to meet the president of the United States.


The annual event in Japan was supported by the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan and The New York Times.