On the first of May, Prince Naruhito became the 126th Emperor of Japan after his father Emperor Akihito abdicated the throne and ended the Heisei era which had lasted for 31 years. The new “Reiwa” era marks the accession of Prince Naruhito and it is the 248th era of the Japanese Imperial Calendar. The name “Reiwa” means “beautiful harmony”. It was taken from the 1200 year old “Manyoshu” anthology of poems and it is the first name of an era originating from a Japanese native source rather than from traditional Chinese literature.
Japan is the only country that uses the own imperial calendar (gengo) as well as the Gregorian calendar. The first gengois “Taika” which started in 645. In ancient times gengowas changed when there was an auspicious event or a disaster like a major earthquake. In the modern Japanese history gengochanged at the time of an imperial succession. The longest era was “Showa”, the era prior to “Heisei”, which lasted for 62 years and 14 days. The shortest gengowas “Rekijin” lasting only 2 months and 14 days in 1238.
The Gregorian calendar has been widely used in Japan and it’s more common these days. The use was promoted along with the campaign of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.