Reiwa Era

Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga announcing the new imperial era "Reiwa" to reporters
Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga announcing the new imperial era "Reiwa" to reporters

Historical Context

In Japan, the country has an additional calendar system which divides the past and present into 'eras', which coincide with the reign of the Emperor. For instance, the period from 1926 to 1989 is called the Shōwa Era, named after Emperor Shōwa (known during his lifetime as Emperor Hirohito - Japanese monarchs are renamed posthumously.)

After Hirohito's death in 1989, his son Akihito took over, and it was announced that the new era name would be Heisei, which roughly means 'peace everywhere.' This lasted until April 30, 2019, when Akihito abdicated and was succeeded by his son Naruhito. Prior to Naruhito's accession, the Japanese cabinet met and declared the name Reiwa for his era, translated as 'beautiful harmony.'

To choose the name, a panel of academics convened and consulted ancient Japanese works before the cabinet voted on the names under consideration. Reiwa is taken from an eighth-century work of Japanese poetry, making it the first such era name with kanji characters taken from Japanese classical literature rather than classic Chinese literature (the kanji system is based on Chinese symbols).

The era will continue until Naruhito's death or abdication.

Photo Info


Photographer: kantei.go.jp
Date taken: April 1, 2019
Location taken: Toyko, Japan

Source: Wikimedia Commons

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  • 2019-04-01 Japanese government announces the name of a new era 'Reiwa' for the next Emperor, Crown Prince Naruhito

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