Japanese people welcomed the start of the new emperor and the new Reiwa era on May 1st 2019 in a festive New Year mood, with hopes for peace and prosperity.
Visitors to Japan might be interested in ceremonies and the Reiwa era. So, I would like to introduce the schedule of ceremonies, the meaning of Reiwa, and role of the emperor.
1. Ceremonies in 2019
The following ceremonies are held by the imperial family and the government.
(① and ② have been done as of May 1)
① April 30 Ceremony of the abdication
Former Emperor Akihito (85-year-old) declared his abdication in a historic ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. In his last public address as emperor, Akihito handed over the symbols of power, the sacred sword and jewel, and thanked the public for their support during his 30-year reign.
② May 1 Ceremony of the succession
New Emperor Naruhito (59-year-old) inherited the symbols of power that signaled his succession and pledged in his first public address to follow his father’s example by devoting himself to peace and sharing the people’s joys and sorrows.
“I sincerely pray for the happiness of the people and the further development of the nation as well as the peace of the world,” he said.
Naruhito, the first emperor born after Japan’s defeat in World War II, formally succeeded to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
③ October 22 Ceremony of the enthronement
The enthronement ceremony for the new emperor is planned for October 22, 2019 as a state occasion. October 22 will be a national holiday.
Foreign dignitaries and envoys are expected to attend the ceremony, which is aimed at proclaiming the imperial succession at home and abroad, followed by a parade.
On October 23, the prime minister is set to host a dinner party in Tokyo to express Japan's gratitude for the foreign guests' attendance at the celebratory events.
2. The meaning of the Reiwa(令和) era
Each Japanese emperor's reign is given a name that is then used alongside the Western calendar to mark the years.
The new era name is Reiwa. It has been selected by the Japanese government. The official translation of Reiwa is beautiful harmony. The term is made up of the two characters Rei and Wa. Rei can mean "order" as well as "auspicious". Wa means "harmony".
The new name was taken from "Manyoshu," the oldest anthology of Japanese poetry.
It comes from a passage that can be translated as: "In early spring, the air is fresh and the wind is calm. The plum flowers are blooming like a beautiful woman applying white powder in front of the mirror, and the fragrance of flowers is like that of robes scented with incense."
3. Role of the emperor
Emperor is now the head of state but has no political powers. The role is largely ceremonial and involves duties such as greeting foreign dignitaries and attending cultural and public events.
The monarchy is closely related to Shintoism, the indigenes religion of Japan, which places huge emphasis on ritual. The emperor is expected to perform those regular religious ceremonies.
Naruhito become the 126th emperor in the world's oldest hereditary monarchy believed to stretch back more than 2,600 years.
NHK English news(https://www.nhk.or.jp/snsenglish/news/n190409)
BBC NEWS (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia- 48111654 and 48020703)