Japan's New Imperial Era Revealed For The First Time

Screenshot: Chiaki

Today, the Japanese government announced the name of the new imperial era: Reiwa (令和). It will replace Heisei, the name of the current imperial era.

Heisei (平成) literally means “become peace,” and the era began in 1989 when the current Emperor took to the throne. Thus, the year Heisei 1 is 1989, Heisei 2 is 1990, and Heisei 3 1991 and so on.

The era prior was called Showa, and dates from 1926–1989. Showa (昭和) literally means “shinning Japan.”

The country’s history is divided up into a series of eras. For example, the era before Showa was the Taisho Period (1912–1926) and before that was the Meiji Period (1868–1912), which each marking the rule of a different emperor.

This Japanese imperial system is used throughout the country on official documents as well as in daily life.

Naturally, each era is defined by its events, culture, thought and fashion. Today, when stuff looks retro in Japan, people often it as “Showa-poi” or “Showa-like.” As time passes, the same will be said of Heisei buildings, culture and fashion.

For example, while the early Showa Period was ravaged by war, Osaka’s Tower of the Sun and the Famicom became emblematic of the late Showa Era.

The current Heisei Period will end on April 30, 2019 (or Heisei 31) when Emperor Akihito abdicates the throne, beginning the Reiwa Era. Crown Prince Naruhito is expected to be enthroned this October.

Only time will tell what will define the new era for future generations.


    So what does Reiwa mean? Also:
    Showa (昭和) literally means “shinning Japan.”
    Might want to fix that spelling :P

      "In Japanese the Kanji used are 令和, coming from order or command and harmony."

      From where I read of the new era, not sure of the combined meaning.

        well literally it means "order peace" or "order harmony"

        so here's to an orderly and peaceful Japan? I'm sure most people can get behind that.

        I watched the news and PM Abe actually said it came from the Manyoshu (the oldest collection of Japanese poetry) whereas in the past it has often come from Chinese literature. sounds like there's an interesting history to dig through

          Every era before this one has been named from Chinese literature. This one being named from a Japanese source is a big deal, politically. Given who is in power at the moment and the current relationship with China, some people are suspecting this is a bit of an attempt at a power move.
          One of the possible meanings of that kanji combo seems to be something akin to "peace through power." The first kanji can be read as to dictate or give orders. Which is worrying given that Abe is notoriously xenophobic and the relationships in the region have become increasingly less cordial.

      They have the power to read minds?

        As anyone who watches enough anime knows, the Japanese emperor has all kinds of crazy powers that they very rarely use in public.

      Maybe its the era where all Japanese cars come with towbars...

      They've announced the official translation for Reiwa now: beautiful harmony.

    This was a very interesting article to read.

    Great stuff Brian.

    Showa (昭和) literally means “shinning Japan.”

    Shhh! D'ye want to get sued?!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now