“It is now the choice month of early spring, the weather is fine, the wind is soft. The plum blossom opens…”
— From the preface of the 5th book of the Manyoshu
On May 1, 2019, the era of Reiwa will begin for Japan when Crown Prince Naruhito ascends to the Chrysanthemum Throne.
His father, Emperor Akihito, will abdicate a day earlier, on April 30, after a 30-year reign. The first ruler to step down in more than 200 years, the 85-year-old emperor has expressed concern that his advancing age might prevent him from fully carrying out his duties.
Prince Naruhito has said that as the new emperor — the symbol of Japan — he would work towards a “new public service in step with the times,” while adhering to Emperor Akihito’s invaluable wisdom and advice to “stand by the people, listen to their voices, and be close to them in their thoughts.”
Reiwa (“beautiful harmony”) is the 248th era of Japan’s Chrysanthemum Throne, an imperial dynasty that has been in place more than 1,399 years.
Here are the important dates and ceremonies as the Japanese bid goodbye to the Heisei era and welcomes the age of Reiwa:
April 30, Tuesday
10 A.M. – Emperor Akihito reports to a special sanctuary in the Imperial Palace called theKashidokoro to officially announce the end of his reign to the kami.
5 P.M. – Emperor Akihito’s holds a last audience before representatives of the Japanese people at the Imperial Palace.
May 1, Wednesday
10:30 A.M. – Crown Prince Naruhito inherits the throne and be invested with the imperial seals and regalia. Only a few people will be present at the ceremony.
11:10 A.M. – Emperor Naruhito issues a short address to the representatives of the Japanese people, including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the heads of legislative and judiciary branches, and representatives of regional governments.
May 4, Saturday
Starting at 10 A.M. – Japanese people will have a chance to visit the Imperial Palace to greet the new emperor. Starting from 10 A.M., Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako will face well-wishers six times during the day.
May 8, Wednesday
Emperor Naruhito reports to his ancestor, the divinity Amaterasu, in another ceremony at the Kashidokoro inside the Imperial Palace.