On Friday, June 28, 2019, the Tomodachi Committee of the Japan-America Society of Hawaii held a special luncheon titled Gengō and New Era in commemoration of the dawn of the new era “Reiwa” in Japan. This new era officially started on May 1, 2019 as Emperor Naruhito succeeded his father, Emperor Emeritus Akihito, who abdicated on April 30, 2019. Our guest speaker, Mrs. Misako Ito, wife of Consul General Koichi Ito of the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu,
explained what gengō (Japanese era name) means from her unique perspective with some background history and interesting facts. For example, it was not until 1868 that a “one reign, one era name” system, meaning only one name could be applied to the reign of each emperor, was adopted. Before that, era names were subjected to frequent change due to calamities such as earthquakes, famine and epidemics.
Tomodachi Committee Chair, Mrs. Kazuko Love introduces Mrs. Misako Ito.
When asked a question about when to use the gengo and the Western calendar, Mrs. Ito answered with her personal experiences that Japanese have been accustomed to switching between the two depending on the situation, i.e. when talking to older people, writing letters to friends, filling out official documents, etc. Following the talk, JASH members and guests were able to catch up with each other and to make new friends over a special lunch at Restaurant Suntory featuring the seasonal ingredients reflecting this time of the year in Japan. JASH would like to express a big mahalo to Mrs. Misako Ito for sharing new insights of Japan.