Japan names new era as Reiwa – ‘order’ (Rei) and ‘harmony’ (Wa)

The new imperial era of Japan to begin on May 1 and it will be termed as “Reiwa,” which literally means order and harmony.

The current Heisei era, which literally means achieving peace, is set to wrap up with the historic abdication of Emperor Akihito and addressing to the nation Prime Minister Shinzo Abe explained the meaning of new era’s name.

In Japan it is a tradition to name each emperor’s reign and thereafter it is used alongside Georgian calendar to mark the years.

The word “Reiwa” is emerged from two characters – Rei and Wa. In simple language Rei means order and Wa means peace or harmony. The word is used in an old anthology of Japanese poems titled Manyoshu, which symbolizes the country’s profound public culture and long tradition.

The prime minister said in his address, “Our nation is facing up to a big turning point, but there are lots of Japanese values that shouldn’t fade away.”

Until now Japan has a total of four eras. The Heisei preceded by Showa era between 1926 and 1989. In English the word mean enlightened harmony.

In Japan it is a tradition to name each emperor’s reign and thereafter it is used alongside Georgian calendar to mark the years.

Between 1912 and 1926 the era was called Taisho, which means great righteousness. The first was Meiji era. It was between 1868 and 1912. It means enlightened rule.

Each era in the country sets tone for upcoming decades and appears almost in every official document like driving licenses, newspapers and coins.

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Paul Linus