Open main menu
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announcing the name of the new Imperial era at a press conference
Japanese office workers watching the announcement on a live televised broadcast

Reiwa (Japanese: 令和[1], Hepburn: Reiwa, pronounced [ɾeː.ɰa] (About this soundlisten)) is the era of Japan that began on 1 May 2019, the day on which Emperor Akihito's elder son, Naruhito, ascended the throne as the 126th Emperor of Japan. Emperor Akihito abdicated the Chrysanthemum Throne on 30 April 2019, marking the end of the Heisei era. The year 2019 corresponds to Heisei 31 until 30 April, and Reiwa 1 (令和元年, Reiwa gannen, 'the first year of Reiwa') from 1 May 2019.[2] Reiwa is interpreted as beautiful harmony.[3]

Contents

BackgroundEdit

AnnouncementEdit

The Japanese government on 1 April 2019 announced the name during a live televised press conference, as Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga traditionally revealed the kanji calligraphy on a board. Prime Minister Shinzō Abe said that Reiwa represents "a culture being born and nurtured by people coming together beautifully".[4]

Name selectionEdit

A shortlist of names for the new era was drawn up by a nine-member expert panel comprising seven men and two women, and the cabinet selected the final name from the shortlist.[5] The nine experts were:[6][4]

The day after the announcement, the government revealed that the other candidate names under consideration had been Eikō (英弘[7]), Kyūka[8] (久化), Kōshi or Kōji[7][9] (広至), Banna or Banwa[7][9] (万和), and Banpo or Banhō[7][9] (万保),[10] three of which were sourced from two Japanese works, the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki.[11] Official pronunciations of these names were not released, although the reading of Eikō was leaked; the other readings are speculative.[9] Top guess names among include An'ei and Heiwa (平和).[12][13]

 
A crowd watching the televised announcement on a giant screen next to Shinjuku Station

Origin and meaningEdit

 
Plum blossoms in Minabe, Wakayama

The kanji characters for Reiwa are derived from the Man'yōshū, an eighth-century (Nara period) anthology of waka poetry. The kotobagaki (headnote) attached to a group of 32 poems (815–846) in Volume 5 of the collection, composed on the occasion of a poetic gathering to view the plum blossoms, reads as follows:[citation needed]

Original Kanbun text:

于時、初春月、氣淑風、梅披鏡前之粉、蘭薫珮後之香。[14]

Classical Japanese translation (kanbun kundoku):

(toki) (ni) (sho) (shun) (no) (rei) (getsu) (ni) (shi) (te) (ki) (yo) (ku) (kaze) (yawara) (gi) (ume) (wa) (kyō) (zen) (no) (ko) (o) (hira) (ki) (ran) (wa) (hai) (go) (no) () (o) (kaora) (su)[15]

English translation:

It was in new spring, in a fair ("Rei") month,
When the air was clear and the wind a gentle ("wa") breeze.
Plum flowers blossomed a beauty's charming white
And the fragrance of the orchids was their sweet perfume.

The Japanese Foreign Ministry provided an English-language interpretation of Reiwa as "beautiful harmony", to dispel reports that "Rei" () translated as "command" or "order". [16][3][17] – although the "Rei" () character's most common meaning is indeed "order" or "command" in today's Japanese, as in "meirei" (命令). However, the Foreign Ministry also noted that "beautiful harmony" is neither an official translation nor legally binding.[18]

NoveltyEdit

 
Extract of Volume 5 of the Man'yōshū from which the kanji characters for "Reiwa" are derived

In addition, "Reiwa" marks the first Japanese era name with characters that were taken from Japanese classical literature instead of classic Chinese literature.[4][19][20] The Chinese foreign ministry responded to a question related to this matter from Japanese media saying that it is Japan's internal affair to choose an era name and expressed good wishes concerning the Sino-Japanese relationship.[21]

According to Masaaki Tatsumi (辰巳正明) and Masaharu Mizukami (水上雅晴), interviewed by the Asahi Shimbun (Asahi Newspaper) shortly after the announcement was made, the phrase has an earlier source in ancient Chinese literature dating back to the second century AD, on which the Man'yōshū usage is allegedly based:[22]

() (shì) (zhòng) (chūn) (lìng) (yuè) (shí) () () (qīng) (yuán) () () (mào) (bǎi) (cǎo) () (róng)

Then comes young spring, in a fine month,
When the wind is mild and the air clear.
Plains and swamps are overgrown with verdure
And the hundred grasses become rank and thick.

— translation by Liu Wu-chi, An Introduction to Chinese Literature (1990)[23]

Robert Campbell, director-general of National Institute of Japanese Literature in Tokyo, provided an official televised interpretation to NHK, regarding the characters based on the poem,[clarification needed] noting that "Rei" is an auspicious wave of energy of the plum blossoms carried by the wind, and "Wa", the general character of peace and tranquility.[24][citation needed]

Accordingly, the name marks the 248th era name designated in Japanese history.[4][25] While the "wa" character has been used in 19 previous era names, the "rei" character has never appeared before.[26]

ImplementationEdit

CurrencyEdit

According to the Japan Mint, which is responsible for producing Japanese currency, all coins with the new era name will be released by October 2019. It takes three months to make preparations such as creating molds in order to input text or pictures. The Mint will prioritize creating 100- and 500-yen coins due to their high mintage and circulation, with an anticipated release by the end of July 2019.[27]

TechnologyEdit

Anticipating the coming of the new era, in September 2018, the Unicode Consortium reserved a code point (U+32FF SQUARE ERA NAME REIWA)[28] for a new glyph which will combine half-width versions of Reiwa's kanji, and , into a single character; similar code points exist for earlier era names, including Shōwa (U+337C SQUARE ERA NAME SYOUWA) and Heisei (U+337B SQUARE ERA NAME HEISEI) periods.[29] The resulting new version of Unicode, 12.1.0, was released on 7 May 2019.[30][31]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "新元号「令和(れいわ)」 出典は万葉集" (in Japanese). 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  2. ^ "New Japanese imperial era Reiwa takes name from ancient poetry". Reuters. 2019-04-01. Retrieved 2019-04-01.
  3. ^ a b "Government says Reiwa translates as 'beautiful harmony'". The Asahi Shimbun. April 3, 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d "Japan names new imperial era beginning May 1 "Reiwa"". Kyodo News. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  5. ^ Rich, Motoko (1 April 2019). "Japan's New Era Gets a Name, but No One Can Agree What It Means". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  6. ^ "「元号」有識者懇メンバー9人発表 ". Mainichi Shimbun (in Japanese). 1 April 2019. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d "新元号 6原案中4つは 「英弘」「広至」「万和」「万保」". NHK News Web (in Japanese). 2019-04-02. Retrieved 2019-04-07.
  8. ^ "Banna, Banpo, Eiko, Koshi and Kyuka: The Japan eras that could have been, beaten out by Reiwa". The Japan Times. 2019-04-03. Retrieved 2019-04-11.
  9. ^ a b c d Baseel, Casey (2019-04-03). "4 era names the gov't rejected before deciding on Reiwa". Japan Today. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
  10. ^ "新元号 6案すべて判明 「令和」考案は中西進氏か". NHK News Web (in Japanese). 2 April 2019. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  11. ^ "「令和」考案は中西進氏 古事記・日本書紀含め、3案が国書典拠" (in Japanese).
  12. ^ 新元号予想ランキング中間発表!
  13. ^ 新元号は平和、和平、安久、未来、自由…予想で占う「ポスト平成」
  14. ^ "真字萬葉集卷第五雜歌0815". 天平二年正月十三日,萃于帥老大伴旅人之宅,申宴會也。于時,初春令月,氣淑風和。梅披鏡前之粉,蘭薰珮後之香。加以,曙嶺移雲,松掛羅而傾蓋,夕岫結霧,鳥封穀而迷林。庭舞新蝶,空歸故鴈。於是,蓋天坐地,促膝飛觴。忘言一室之裏,開衿煙霞之外。淡然自放,快然自足。若非翰苑,何以攄情。請紀落梅之篇,古今夫何異矣。宜賦園梅,聊成短詠。
  15. ^ "新元号「令和」 首相談話「花を大きく咲かせたい」". Nikkei (in Japanese). 2019-04-01. Retrieved 2019-04-01.
  16. ^ "Govt.: 'Reiwa' means 'beautiful harmony'". NHK World. April 3, 2019.
  17. ^ "Japan assures world that Reiwa is all about 'beautiful harmony' and has nothing to do with 'command'". The Japan Times. April 3, 2019.
  18. ^ "Japan assures world that Reiwa is all about 'beautiful harmony' and has nothing to do with 'command'". The Japan Times. April 3, 2019.
  19. ^ {{cite news |last1=Osaki |first1=Tomohiro |title=Reiwa: Japan reveals name of new era ahead of Emperor's abdication[better source needed]
  20. ^ "新元号は「令和」(れいわ) 万葉集典拠、国書由来は初". Asahi News Digital (in Japanese). 2019-04-01. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  21. ^ Zhang, Ao (2019-04-01). "日本新年号未出自中国典籍,中方怎么看?外交部这样回应". Global Times (in Chinese). Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  22. ^ Ozawa, Satoshi (2019-04-01). "「日本が困難な時、万葉集がはやる」 令和は歴史的転換". Asahi News Digital (in Japanese). Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  23. ^ Liu, Wu-chi (1990). An Introduction to Chinese Literature. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press of Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 54. ISBN 0-313-26703-0.
  24. ^ "Japanese Literature Expert on New Era Name". NHK World Japan. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  25. ^ "Japan announces "Reiwa" as new era name to begin under new emperor". Xinhua. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  26. ^ "Japan's govt. chooses 'Reiwa' as new era name". NHK World Japan. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  27. ^ "「令和」の硬貨はいつ発行される?免許証、書類はどうなる… | ページ 2". bizSPA!フレッシュ (in Japanese). 2019-04-02. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  28. ^ Lunde, Ken (1 April 2019). "Adobe-Japan1-7 Published!". CJK Type Blog. Adobe. Retrieved 2 April 2019.
  29. ^ "New Japanese Era". The Unicode Blog. Unicode Consortium. 2018-09-06. Retrieved 1 April 2019.
  30. ^ "Unicode Version 12.1 released in support of the Reiwa Era". Unicode Consortium. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  31. ^ "Unicode 12.1.0". The Unicode Consortium. Retrieved 2 April 2019.

External linksEdit

  •   The dictionary definition of 令和 at Wiktionary
Preceded by
Heisei
Era of Japan
Reiwa

1 May 2019 – present
Most recent