Reiwa and the New Emperor

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Yoshihide Suga, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, holding the Reiwa Kanji characters for the imperial era on May 1st, 2019

Reiwa

This is an exciting time in Japan’s history. On May 1st, 2019, the new Reiwa era saw the former Emperor Akihito willingly abdicate his position to crown his son, Naruhito. This is the first time in Japan’s history that a new emperor comes into power while the former is still alive.

I am excited by all this and lucky to be witnessing everything as it happens. Nothing like this happens in the United States. Sure, we have presidential elections, but they happen so often that it’s nothing special. I do have to say that President Barack Obama was historical as he was the first Black president to serve the US. The next significant time will probably when the first female president will be elected. I’m looking forward to that.

In the meantime, I am here in Japan, enjoying the transition between these imperial eras. I came to Japan during the Heisei Era during Akihito’s reign and have now experienced the father passing on his rule to the son.  I wonder how long the new era will last? Heisei lasted for 31 years. Before that, the Showa era lasted for 65 years.

On November 10, 2019, the new emperor was celebrated in Tokyo with a parade. This parade was originally scheduled for October 21, the date when the Emperor and Empress went through centuries-old rituals that made their ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne official.

Dignitaries from all over the world came to visit and attend the ceremony, but the parade was postponed because of Typhoon Hagibis, or Typhoon #19 for Japan. Due to the loss of lives and damage to property, the parade and celebration activities were canceled in consideration for people experiencing hardship.

The new day for the parade was postponed until November.

November 10, 2019 Live Updates:

The emperor and the empress stands facing the crowd. He is wearing a tuxedo and holding a top hat. She is dressed in a coral dress with  a gorgeous, but heavy-looking tiara. They both have that practiced slight smile on their faces.

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The countdown begins a few minutes before they will proceed down the streets of Tokyo.

Kimigayo plays.

Their ride, a fancy convertible car with hardly any security measures that can be seen, comes to a stop in front of them. It is kokusan, of course, Made in Japan. It is from Toyota, called Century. It cost about ¥80,000,000 or about $750,000 to make.

Holy cow.

The doors are opened by a stately attendant and they are both ushered into the back seat. This stately attendant slides into the front passenger car, his expression never changes.

At exactly 3pm, the car moves forward and the parade starts.

From here on out the emperor and empress will continue to smile and wave for people–for the planned 30 minute, 4.6 km route through parts of Tokyo.

They leave the imperial grounds of the the palace. The cheerful parade song playing in the background and will be performed at different parts of the route, is called Reiwa.

They are greeted by cheering crowds of people waving the Japanese flag. They are ecstatic, moved by the spirit of patriotism and reverence for the emperor–but I have to say that I heard more people calling out the empress’s name 🙂

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Masako-sama!

People have gathered from all over the country. News reports have said that people have lined up and waited the day before to get “prime viewing seats,” camping out in the cold.

Holy cow. That’s dedication for you.

Security personnel have also come from all parts of Japan, a 26,000-man police force. They represent all the different prefectures of the country.

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The fall weather looks amazing! I am happy that the it was sunny and all the people involved in the parade–the planners, the security, the reporters, the crowds, and the imperial couple were blessed by the weather.

Of course, you can’t get away without some negativity involving something this big in scale. Critics say that this parade wasn’t necessary. It’s a waste of time, money, and resources that could have been better spent towards the recovery efforts for Typhoon Hagibis.

They may be right, but you can’t help but get caught up in all the pomp and circumstance. I’m not even Japanese, and I feel moved by the love people have showered upon their emperor. It’s quite a sight to see.

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I’m from the US so we don’t get to see a lot of imperial/royal events unless these royalty come to visit. Plus the last three years have been incredibly trying with a buffoon pretending to be president–but I digress.

I find it interesting to see how a lot of Japanese people really get into all this. People are genuinely crying just seeing the emperor in person for just a few seconds.

I’m glad I got to watch it live and experience this special relationship between the emperor and his people.

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