April 02, 2019

Reiwa Is Japan’s New Era Starting May 1

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  • A new era arrives in Japan following Emperor Akihito’s intention to abdicate—a first in more than 200 years.

    “Reiwa,” the country’s 248th era, was announced by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga on Monday. The new era is set to start on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito rises to Chrysanthemum Throne. This puts an end to Japan’s current era, “Heisei,” which started in 1989.

    Reiwa, Japan’s new era starting May 1/IMAGE by Reuters; grabbed from BBC website

    In Japan, a change of era signifies a new emperor to reign. In the past eras, emperors reigned until their demise. However, in 2016, Emperor Akihito hinted his desire to retire due to old age–an unusual move in recent history.

    Also read: Hidden Tokyo: Discover the City’s Lesser-Known Charms

    According to the Japan Times, the naming of an era is a significant event in the country. “Such names play an integral role, both practically and psychologically, in the lives of Japanese people,” the report stated.

    Video from Japan Times’ YouTube page

    Adjustments shall also be made in order to incorporate the name of the new era to important public documents.

    The name Reiwa was chosen through secret deliberations made by nine experts and politicians. According to The Guardian, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that the term symbolizes the nation’s “public culture and long tradition.”

    Also read: Kumamoto Prefecture: Reflection of Japan’s Rich Culture & History

    The word Reiwa is said to have been taken from Manyoshu, a compilation of Japanese poetry, with the character “Rei” representing good fortune, and “Wa” meaning peace or harmony.

    Source: Japan Times, BBC, The Guardian

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