End of the Heisei Era Death Note

Well, another Anime Expo has come and gone, and the J-List staff is tired but exhilerated, having met thousands of fans and selling tons of our convention-limited Megumi’s Moe Booster drinks and trademark dolphin polishers. Our next show will be the San Diego Comicon, hope to see you there!

The End of the Heisei Era

Do you know what year it is? I often don’t, thanks to the Japanese custom of counting years according to the reign of the Emperor in power, which means that 2018 is Heisei 30, being the 30th year of the reign of Emperor Akihito. Heisei (平成, meaning “Having Achieved Peace and Stability”) is the fourth era since Japan became a “modern” nation; the others were 明治 Meiji (“Enlightened Rule,” 1868-1912), when Japan began to emulate the West for the first time; 大正 Taisho (“Great Righteousness,” 1912-1926), which saw a terrible earthquake that killed 140,000 in Tokyo; and the long and eventful 昭和 Showa (“Brilliant Harmony,” 1926-1989) period, a time of war, rebuilding and eventually, toilets that wash your butt for you. Living in Japan, I’ve come to memorize important dates in the Imperial era system: for example I was born in Showa 43, I came to Japan in Heisei 3, and started J-List in Heisei 8.

But Heisei is coming to an end with the impending retirement of the current Emperor, something that hasn’t happened in 200 years. This means that on May 1, 2019, a new Imperial era will begin, and the Heisei era will end. But in a way, the Heisei era ended last Friday, with the execution of former cult leader Shouko Asahara along with six others responsible for the 1995 Tokyo Sarin gas attack, a sad event which defined the Heisei era for a lot of people. The list of crimes committed by the cult is long, including the famous Tokyo Sarin Gas Attack and an earlier sarin gas attack in Matsumoto, Nagano, which killed 13 and 8 respectively. But the crime that boiled my blood the most was the kidnapping and murder of lawyer Tsutsumi Sakamoto, who was investigating the cult, along with his wife and infant son. I remember reading about the murders when they were terrifying the nation, back before we knew who had ordered the deaths. So I’m glad to see justice has finally been done.

Before you start a new Imperial Era, sometimes you need to take out the trash.

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About the author

Peter Payne

I live in Japan and I run J-List, an anime shop famous for shimapan and Tentacle Grape. I love being able to bring Japanese culture to the world.