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Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
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Today marks the first day of the new imperial era, Reiwa (令和), and the ascension of Japan's new emperor, Naruhito (徳仁), though this personal name is never used in Japan where the reigning emperor is always addressed as Tennō Heika (天皇陛下, "His Imperial Majesty"). He is the 126th emperor in what is the world's oldest ruling dynasty and the first one to be born after the Second World War.

Yesterday, the former Emperor Akihito formally abdicated by handing over the imperial regalia and the imperial seals. The ceremony was brief but no free of emotions. Here are Akihito's last words as an emperor.


Abdication rituals in the morning of April 30 at the Three Palace Sanctuaries (宮中三殿 Kyūchū sanden).


Abdication ceremony in the Matsu-no-ma (the Hall of Pines) of the Imperial Palace in the afternoon (photo credit: Reuters). A lot of Japanese expressed sadness after Akihito left the stage. An era has ended.

Akihito will henceforth use the title of Jōkō (上皇, Emperor Emeritus), an abbreviation of Daijō Tennō (太上天皇), and his wife, the Empress,
Jōkōgō (上皇后, Empress Emerita).

Reiwa started with New-Year-like celebrations:

A crowd in Daizafu City in Fukuoka welcomed the new era by forming the Chinese characters for Reiwa.


Emperor Naruhito ascending to the Chrysanthemum Throne. Here, he is being presented with the Imperial regalia. The actual enthronement ceremony (即位礼正殿の儀 Sokuirei-Seiden-no-gi ) will take place on 22 October 2019.

The imperial couple:


Cheering crowds at the Imperial Palace (photo credit: AFP-Jiji).

Positive remarks also from South Korean President Moon Jae-in:

We witnessed two historic days. A happy and peaceful Reiwa, Japan!
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