The long awaited era name of Japan’s incoming emperor Naruhito will be Reiwa (令和). For the first time in 2 centuries, an Emperor will live to witness a new era name, as the current, Emperor Akihito will be the first to step on April 30, ushering in the new era from May 1.
The new name is taken from the 7th century poetry collection “Manyoshu,” although traditionally, the characters have been selected from ancient Chinese texts. The two characters used in the new name mean “order” or “command” and “peace” or “harmony”.
There have been four era names in Japan’s modern history: Meiji (1868-1912), Taisho (1912-1926), Showa (1926-1989) and the current Heisei, meaning “achieving peace”. And they all appear to symbolize the national mood of the period, it comes to symbolize the national mood of a period. Similar but not exactly the same would be “baby boomers” or “millennials” in the USA.
Japanese’s 1979 era name law which relieved the Royal Household of choosing the names, saw several nominations at closed-door meeting attended by experts from various areas, including Nobel prize-winning stem-cell scientist Shinya Yamanaka and award-winning novelist Mariko Hayashi, before a final approval by the cabinet.
While a growing number of Japanese prefer the Western calendar over the Japanese system in a highly digitalized and globalized society, the era name is still widely used in official and business documents.