Celebrations as Naruhito begins his reign as emperor of Japan

Emperor Naruhito's reign began yesterday as he ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne marking the beginning of a new imperial era in Japan.

Japan’s new Emperor Naruhito and new Empress Masako receive a blessing from new Crown Prince Akishino and new Crown Princess Kiko during an enthronement celebration ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

Emperor Naruhito’s reign began yesterday as he ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne marking the beginning of a new imperial era in Japan.

Naruhito, 59, following the abdication of his father Emperor Akihito on Tuesday, has become Japan’s 126th emperor, according to the traditional order of succession.

New era greetings were shared between friends and families on the telephone, by text and on social media platforms, with large numbers of young people posting pictures of themselves when they were children in the Heisei Era, along with their messages of hope for the future of Japan and the world.

People on the most popular social networking sites were enthusiastic about the new Reiwa Era. Many made individual pledges as to what they would like to achieve in the future, with dreams centered around peace and prosperity.

Former Emperor Akihito in his final speech as a monarch before stepping down at midnight on Tuesday said he sincerely hoped for a stable future for Japan with peace and happiness around the world.

Akihito’s abdication marked the end of the three-decade-long Heisei Era and the first abdication in more than 200 years.

Many Japanese stayed up until midnight to usher in the new Reiwa Era, with large screens up and down the country near commuter hubs and in bustling shopping districts wishing everyone a Happy New Reiwa Era.

A number of individuals, towns, cities and prefectures celebrated with fireworks, couples taking their wedding vows, naming their children at midnight, and drinking special sake.

Era names, or gengo as they are known in Japanese, are used for the length of a monarch’s reign.

The new era name, Reiwa, meaning “beautiful harmony,” was announced by the government on April 1. New era names are usually announced after the accession of the new monarch, but the government decided to announce the new name in advance of the accession of the new emperor.

In this way, companies and the general public had time to prepare for the change, and disruption would be kept to a minimum.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the time said that the government wanted to select a name that conveys the heralding of a “new era full of hope.”

“The name Reiwa means that culture is born and grows when people come together and care for each other beautifully,” Abe said.

He also said he hoped the new era ahead would be one that held great promise for the younger generations.

Heisei, the name of the previous era, means “achieving peace” and began on January 8, 1989, the day after Emperor Hirohito died.

To add to the nation’s fervor and excitement, this year’s Golden Week has been extended to 10 days with one day allocated to observe former Emperor Akihito’s abdication and another to the enthronement of Emperor Naruhito and related ceremonies.

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