Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New Japan emperial era name brings souvenir boom

New Japan emperial era name brings souvenir boom

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
An employee of a department store displays sweets designed with the new era name ‘Reiwa’ with its packages in Yokohama. JIJI PRESS/afp

New Japan emperial era name brings souvenir boom

NO SOONER had Japan announced the name of its next imperial era than enterprising businesses across the country began emblazoning “Reiwa” on everything from cupcakes to keychains.

At several coffee shops, enterprising – and skilful – baristas rendered the name that implies “harmony” in the foam of lattes, with one artist even depicting the entire scene of Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga holding the new name aloft.

The impulse to quickly monetise the new era name is virtually unprecedented, because for hundreds of years, each new name has been announced upon the death of the previous monarch, during a period of mourning when such enterprise would have been unseemly.

But because Emperor Akihito has opted to abdicate the throne, which will be assumed by Crown Prince Naruhito next month, a festive, and entrepreneurial, spirit surrounded the era announcement on Monday.

And while the current imperial couple enjoy widespread support, some feel less warmly about the Heisei era of Akihito’s reign.

“Some Japanese also have negative feelings towards the Heisei era,” said Kazuo Yawata, a former bureaucrat who now teaches at Tokushima Bunri University, citing events including the collapse of the bubble economy and natural disasters.

“So they are happy that we are moving to another period, and that was solidified by the festive atmosphere that was seen straight after the announcement,” he said.

Reiwa pizza

Yawata was among those waiting for the era name’s announcement for his own reasons: just three hours after “Reiwa” was unveiled, his new book was listed for sale online entitled “Reiwa, History of Japan: The Journey of the 126th Emperor and the Japanese.”

“Given the current context, I suspected the direction they would take with the new era name, so I wrote it beforehand and I basically just had to add the chosen name into the book and the cover,” added Yawata, a supporter of the nationalist positions of the Japanese government.

But most of those waiting for the name to be revealed for business reasons had less intellectual offerings, like the Osaka restaurant that put a pizza on its menu featuring “Reiwa” cut from cheese on top.

And the award for the quickest off the mark might perhaps go to the company that a private television station revealed had put on sale a metal cup engraved with “Reiwa” just two minutes and 27 seconds after Suga’s announcement.

In Tokyo, residents and commuters ditched their standard silent demeanours to do literal battle in scrums for special edition newspapers featuring the new name – many of which quickly turned up on online auction sites.

And others snapped up stickers, smartphone covers, t-shirts, pins and even commemorative bottles of the Japanese tipple sake to mark the occasion.

The announcement also drew surprise attention to some unsuspecting individuals, because the two characters in “Reiwa” can also be read other ways, including as the name “Norikazu.”

So Norikazu Kawagishi, a constitutional expert at Tokyo’s Waseda University, found himself having to fend off a deluge of press attention after the announcement, to the amused delight of his students.

He might take heart though from the fact that several restaurants have pledged to offer free meals to those whose first or last names use the same characters as “Reiwa”


  • With herd immunity likely in 2022, is Cambodia ready to reopen for tourism?

    The government aims to inoculate 80 per cent of the target population by June next year, giving it a head start among regional peers to reboot the sector but first, it has to do a few things to up its game A sign on a glass

  • Quarantine still a must for all arrivals, in next Covid chapter

    Since early May, an average of five to 10 Cambodian people have died from Covid-19 a day with many others testing positive amid the ongoing community outbreak. At the same time, however, hundreds of patients also recovered a day. The first Covid-19 case in Cambodia was

  • US wants 'full access' to Ream Naval Base

    On June 11, the US embassy's Defense Attaché Colonel Marcus M Ferrara visited Ream Nava Base in coordination with Cambodian officials following the recent approval of Prime minister Hun Sen to allay the concerns on Chinese military presence at the base as raised by US Deputy

  • First commercial gold mine online

    Australian miner Renaissance Minerals (Cambodia) Ltd on June 21 began the commercial operation of its $120 million Okvau Gold Project in the northeastern province of Mondulkiri, becoming the Kingdom’s first gold producer. Located in the Okvau area in southwestern Mondulkiri province’s Keo Seima district, the

  • Jab drive heading to 5 provinces

    The government is set to vaccinate more than 1.2 million people in five provinces after finishing with Phnom Penh and neighbouring Kandal in an ongoing campaign administered by the ministries of Health and National Defence. The five provinces are Preah Sihanouk, Kampong Speu, Takeo, Kampong Cham

  • New immigration bill targets illegal foreigners in Kingdom

    General Department of Immigration (GDI) officials are discussing revisions to the new draft law on immigration to prevent foreigners from entering Cambodia illegally and to supervise those living in the Kingdom more effectively. The revisions draw wide support among civil society organisations. GDI director-general Kirth