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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Reiwa Era Japan

Reiwa Era Japan
Welcome to the first day of the Reiwa Era! Today, May 1st, 2019 marks the start of a new imperial era in Japan with the first day of the Reiwa Era. In a day of celebration for Japan, Crown Prince Naruhito ascended to the chrysanthemum throne as the 126th Emperor of Japan in the world’s oldest hereditary monarchy.

April 30th, 2019 signaled the end of the Heisei Era with Emperor Akihito’s historic abdication bringing an end to the three-decade-long period. It is the first time in over 200 years that a living Emperor has abdicated in Japan. The Emperor’s advanced age and health concerns made it difficult for him to continue carrying out his official duties.

The Emperor expressed about 10 years ago his desire to one-day abdicate for his son, but it was impossible for him to do so with the current Imperial Household Law stating that the throne may only be succeeded upon the Emperor’s passing. The Japanese Diet (parliament) had to enact a special one-off law in June 2017 in order to allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate.

Emperor Akihito shook up the Japanese monarchy by marrying a commoner and modernizing the imperial household, bringing it closer into line with the changes happening in society. He was seen as “The People’s Emperor” bringing the monarchy closer to the ordinary people, suffering the pain along with them as he and Empress Michiko visited disaster locations to offer their support and sympathy.

While we must say thank you and goodbye to the Heisei Era, we can welcome in the Reiwa Era. The name of the new era, Reiwa (令和), means “order and harmony” and is derived from the kanji (Chinese characters) from the Manyoshu, an eight-century (Nara Period) anthology of waka (classical Japanese poetry). It is the first time that a Japanese era name has had its characters taken from Japanese classical literature instead of classic Chinese literature.

"Reiwa" means "order and harmony"

The Heisei Era (8th January 1989 – 30th April 2019) brought with it peace and stability for the nation as well as a period of great technological advancement, but also some unprecedented lows such as the bursting of the “bubble economy”, an aging and shrinking population, and natural disasters (1995 Kobe Earthquake and the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami).

The new era is a time for the Japanese people to reminisce about the past and the hope that the new Reiwa Era will bring to Japan. It is a significant change, the passing from one generation to the other with the whole country excited about what the future will bring.

What are you looking forward to with the start of the new Reiwa Era? 

Yoshihide Suga, announcing new imperial era, "Reiwa", to reporters.
Image from Wikipedia: Yoshihide Suga announcing the new "Reiwa Era"


  1. What am I looking forward to? Limited edition food and drinks.

    It won't be long until the limited edition products start popping up on Yahoo Auctions.

    1. Thank you for your comment! The limited edition and seasonal food and drinks here in Japan are amazing. There is always something new and interesting to try.

  2. Looking forward to visit Japan in the new era soon! :)

    1. Hi Lina! I hope you visit to Japan in the new Reiwa Era will be sooner rather than later. What do you have planned for your next trip to Japan?

    2. Will be heading to Kyushu in two weeks' time. :)
      We spent a week in Japan in March because I ran in Nagoya Women Marathon too, by the way.

      Really need to plan something up north someday!

    3. Nice! Kyushu is a part of Japan that I have yet to fully explore. I recommend a visit up north, especially to the Tohoku region, which is one of the most beautiful parts of Japan.


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