May 1 in Japan is the dawn of the new era of Reiwa (令和, Beautiful Harmony). The entire country is abuzz with excitement, hope, and anticipation.
On this day, Naruhito, the 126th emperor of Japan will ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne. The new Empress Masako will accompany him, along with their daughter Princess Aiko.
The name Reiwa is made of two kanji characters. The first, rei, means beautiful. The second, wa, means harmony or peace. Wa is also the word for everything Japanese, as in washoku (Japanese food,) and wafuku (Japanese clothing, including kimono.)
2019 will officially be known as Reiwa 1. The new era will be used on birth certificates, drivers’ licenses, health insurance cards, train tickets, stamps, coins, receipts, and numerous other documents.
Reiwa will shape the collective Japanese mindset perhaps for decades. I hope its maxim of peace becomes a guide for the younger generation to make this world a better place.