This is how a new era begins

I found an interesting video, showing the exact moment when Japan changed from Showa (昭和) era to Heisei (平成) era in 1989 when Hirohito emperor died. It was the first time that a era change was broadcasted on TV:

Right now it’s the year 19 of Heisei’s era which is the same as 2007 in the western world. The era based system is only used in history books, in some newspapers, in coins/bills/stamps and also in official documents and forms where you have to input your date of birth depending on the era. For example I was born in the year 56 Showa (昭和). For other stuff they usually use the western system based on our current Christian era.

I wonder when we will change era in the western world…

6 Comments
  • Roy

    December 12, 2007 at 8:58 am

    I remember when that happened. I was living in Tokyo, it was a rainy day and there was absolutely nothing to do because everything was closed and nothing on TV except the Emperor’s death. A very depressing day.

  • Karisu

    December 12, 2007 at 2:30 pm

    I would not expect the western world to ever have a new “age” again. I think we’re perfectly happy with the currently year and date system.

    I find it quite silly that the Japanese would continue to practice this as well.

  • ale/pepino

    December 12, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    We’ve started the UNIX era in 1970. It’s taken count of in seconds, not years, and nobody can tell you now’s timestamp, but people don’t memorize telephone numbers anymore anyway.

    Having a standard era like the UNIX or the Christian one makes it easy to have “shorter” eras for everyday use.

    So how is it different to change from Showa to Heisei than changing centuries? Years were all 2 digits until we got to the “2000’s”, and this effectively makes every century an era.

    There was year ’98 in the 20th century era, but there was a year ’98 in the 19th century era too. This is just as dumb or as clever as having both year 19 Heisei and year 19 Showa.

  • Karisu

    December 13, 2007 at 7:17 am

    ale/pepino, that is one of the more inane things I’ve ever seen. There was no “year ‘98 in the 20th century era, but there was a year ‘98 in the 19th century era” there was 1898 and 1998. People abbreviated the date for ease when speaking or writing. There is also no such thing as the “UNIX” era, except for maybe within the computing world.

  • ale/pepino

    December 13, 2007 at 7:48 am

    I mean when numbers get bigger, people will just speak simple an inaccurate (’98). Picture year 2986957630537. Won’t you be better off speaking of ’37 or even ‘537?

    Then, why not count in seconds or less starting from any agreed era? We shouldn’t care about the number getting too big to remember.

  • kirai

    December 14, 2007 at 2:36 am

    I like the concept of UNIX era 🙂 Maybe we should change era when no more seconds can fit a 32 bits integer…