A new chapter in Japan’s history has started as the “Reiwa” era has been named to usher in the new Emperor on May 1. This is once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for the Japanese people as the new Imperial Era will market the transition from “Heisei” but this is a bit confusing. There have been over 400 names of “Era” of the Japanese Royal Family.
The Japanese Royal Family and the Japanese people use a calendar that is clearly the same as other countries – 2019, April 10th -for example. However, they mark the Japanese calendar with a name that is identified with each new Emperor.
“Achieving Peace” is the new name for a new era for a new Emperor.
So the May 1, 2019 date starts the “Reiwa” era and as long as the new Emperor survives, the name continues. If he abdicates (as the current one is doing, he is old and stepping down), or he passes, the name will change. This is a tradition that has lasted over 1,000 years.
The new name is selected by the government but not until the list is checked by novelists, poets and historians – all having access to a short list of possible names. The Japanese are deeply loyal to their Emperor and this 10 day holiday in May will mark the changing of a new name, a new era and a new Head of the Royal Family, the New Emperor of Japan.