Today April 4, 2019, Japan’s new era name is announced – “令和” Reiwa.

“The release of Japan’s new era name is one of the final steps towards initiating the nation’s first imperial succession in three decades. Japan’s new era will start in May when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne, succeeding his father, Emperor Akihito”. – The Japan Times.

Japan's New Era Name - Reiwa - The Japan Times

Image Source : The Japan Times

Why does it matter? The era name is used in Japanese date format where the era name is written before the numeric year differently from the Gregorian date format and will be used in domestic calendars, news print, legal documents and even driver’s license in Japan.

Japan Driver's License - Tofugu

Image Source: www.tofugu.com

Japan’s era name is used for the length of an emperor’s reign. Emperor Akihito’s reign is marked with the “平成” Heisei era while “令和” Reiwa era will be used once Crown Prince Naruhito ascends the Chrysanthemum Throne on May 1st, 2019, the start of a new chapter in Japanese history.

According to reports, the first character “令” means “fortunate” while the second character can be translated as “peace or harmony”. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga who displayed the new era said the era name was formulated based on a poem “Manyoshu”, the oldest existing compilation of Japanese poetry.

Emperor Akihito - The Japan Times

Image Source: The Japan Times

Today’s new era name announcement is also a one of a kind historic event because the name was announced while the reigning Emperor is still alive.

If you have plans going to Japan for work or study be prepared by studying how to write the kanji characters of the new era name.