The Beginning of Reiwa

Yoshihide Suga , Chief Cabinet Secretary announces the name of Japan’s forthcoming new eraYesterday a new era has begun with the ascension of Emperor Naruhito to the chrysanthemum throne of Japan. The era name  is Reiwa, and there is much hope that it will be just as peaceful as the preceding one.

Usually, the ascension of a new emperor is a somewhat solemn affair because it also means the death of the previous emperor, so you don’t really know whether to celebrate the occasion or not. This time, people were free to celebrate: They stayed up all night, celebrating at midnight at May 1st; they visited popular spots to watch the sun rise in the new era, which is a popular thing to do on New Year, by the way; or they visited the imperial palace in Tokyo to try catch a glimpse of the new emperor and his wife.

I’m wondering if and how things will change with the new emperor. I am especially curious which role the new empress will take. She didn’t have an easy time adjusting to the ceremonial overload in the palace, but now her status has changed and she may just be able to go out and expand her role beyond the traditional ones. Time will tell if she becomes just as beloved as the Michiko, Empress Emerita.