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  • 執筆者の写真Hiroshige FUJII

What is the next Gengo?

Reiji Nakano(B3)

Happy New Year!! This winter is the last winter of Heisei. Heisei ends in this April and next Gengo starts from May 2019. Do you know the meaning of Gengo? It is the first time to change Gengo in my life, so I’d like to think about Gengo in this essay.

According to Tokoro, Kure and Yoshino (2018), Gengo is one of the chronology method which comes from China. In China, people counted years by naming the year when Emperor succeeded to the throne. The name of Gengo relates auspicious things, so the Kanji which was used in Gengo has good meaning, for example, 永(ei=eternity), 建(ken=build), and 和(wa=peace). This system was established by Han dynasty (BC202~AD8, AD25~220). While Korea, Vietnam and Japan introduced Gengo in addition to China, Japan is the only state still uses Gengo.

The first Japanese original Gengo is 大化(taika) in 645. After that 247 Gengoes were used in Japan. Gengo was frequently changed when unlucky things happened such as earthquake, famine and fire. Since 1868, Gengo has been used by one emperor (一世一元の制). The emperor abdicates the throne at the end of April, so Heisei ends and new Gengo starts in May 2019.

Then, what is the next Gengo? According to Gengo law, Gengo is created by some experts commissioned by the prime minister and decided by a cabinet meeting. Gengo has some conditions. For example, Gengo has good meaning, is constituted by two Kanjis, can easily read and write. Gengo was based on Chinese classic. By the way, Heisei(平成) is the abbreviation for 内平外成or地平天成. It means domestic(内) and foreign(外) become(成) peaceful(平). I can’t imagine next Gengo, but I wish next era became peaceful and happy time.


These days I’m absorbed in a novel. The title is Tenno Kumiai which means emperor union in English. It’s the story of self-proclaimed emperors in Japan right after World War Ⅱ. They make union and insist on abdication of Emperor Hirohito to become emperor themselves. This is a very funny novel. If you have a free time, please read it.


Tokoro. Kure. Yoshino. (2018). Gengo. Tokyo, Japan: Bunngeisyunnjyuu.

NHK News Web ( 2019/02/09.


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