Reiwa, a New Era

Today Emperor Akihito of Japan has officially abdicated his throne in favour of his son, Prince Naruhito who will now be the 126th emperor. You may have heard it on the news. The last time an emperor abdicated was, I read, 200 years ago and since then monarchs ruled until death. Of course as we live longer, it is not easy to fulfill the role the rest of your life. Emperor Akihito himself is 85 years old. And he decided to step down due to age and declining health, wishing to spend his life in peace. And who can blame him? Did you also know that Japan has the world’s oldest continuing hereditary monarchy? Legends say it even dates back to as far as 600 B.C.! Yes and not A.D.

And so the official start of Emperor Naruhito will take place tomorrow 1 May. It marks the transition from the Heisei era to the Reiwa era. In Japan, years or era are customarily counted by the number of years the present Emperor has been reigning. The Showa era for instance was between 1925-1988 during Emperor Hirohito, followed by Heisei era from 1988 to present with Emperor Akihito. Japan will then enter the Reiwa era as of midnight 30 April, marking a new chapter in Japanese history. Written as 令和 in Japanese, Reiwa means “beautiful harmony.” I, of course, decided to prepare this cute iPad drawing and dedicate it for this exciting occasion!

I merely used the background from a photo I found whilst googling. These represent chrysanthemums which is the family crest of the Imperial family and also the official flower of Japan. A very classic and traditionally Japanese motif. As such I was keen to use this and on top “paint” a cute anime drawing of Little One in a cute yellow frock with pearls clutching the Japanese flag. Along with her are her teddy bear and bunny friends looking forward to the new Era and wishing good fortunes for the years to come. I didn’t forget to add “Reiwa” on the upper right corner of course. Now the medium I used for this drawing was a “brush pen” which seems quite appropriately Japanese with its calligraphy effect. How kawaii is this!

Unfortunately I am not residing in Japan anymore so am not able to experience this transition first hand. It would have been such an exciting moment to see what it would be like, although I do remember when the Showa era became Heisei in 1988. At the time, it was quite a big step given the number of decades (63 years) Emperor Hirohito had reigned including during wartime, postwar recovery and economic miracle. Perhaps the mood would now be different. Whatever it would be, I pray for a better future for Japan and would like to see what it’s all like to have a “young” emperor when I am there next!

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