30 April 2019
I’m sure you’ve all heard, Crown Prince Naruhito will become the Emperor of Japan on 1st May, and his era will be the Reiwa era. Emperor Akihito abdicates on 30th April, aged eighty five. His era, the Heisei era began in 1989. He’s generally considered a good egg, and always looks wonderful along with his wife Michiko. Up until now, it’s always been the eldest son who takes over, but, as you may have read, there’s a shortage of young men in the following generation. Naruhito has a daughter, while his younger brother has two daughters, and a son. Until now no emperor has ever abdicated, and rules had to be re-written for that to happen, so there’s hope that rules can change to allow an empress in the next generation. Who knows.
What’s equally fascinating is that Japan still uses its traditional calendar system, alongside the Gregorian calendar, so as well as being written 2019/04/30, the 30th April can be 平成31年4月30日 ( The 30th April in the 31st year of Heisei). Tomorrow will be 令和元年5月1日 (1st May in the 1st year of Reiwa). As all this was only decided - or announced - a month ago, everything has to change very quickly. I imagine there’ll be a huge rush to buy new calendars and memorabilia with the new era. There’s even talk of a computer melt down like there was in 1999.
To make it all even more fun, this comes during Japan’s Golden Week holiday, which this year stretches over ten days, with an extra day tagged on for the coronation. Everything pretty much stops in Golden Week, as everyone who can grabs a quick holiday, and all business stops. So for anyone holding out for a pair of Tobisho secateurs, don’t hold your breath...