With the imperial Heisei era over and the Reiwa period just beginning, this is the phrase to use.

While the Japanese language isn’t as difficult as some people make it out to be, greetings can be a little tricky. For example, konnichiwa usually gets translated as “hello,” but the more accurate way to think of it is as “good afternoon,” since it’s a greeting specifically for mid-day, and there are different expressions you need to use for the early morning or night.

Sometimes, though, things are simpler in Japanese. For example, omedetou is used to mean not only “congratulations,” but also for “happy birthday” (otanjoubi omedetou) and “happy new year” (akemashite omedetou). So when people in Japan woke up on May 1, the first day of the brand-new Reiwa imperial era, some of them wondered if this was yet another occasion on which to use omedetou.

And yeah, if you tell your Japanese friend ”Akemashite omedetou!” the first time you see them since Emperor Naruhito ascended to the throne, they’ll understand the sentiment. However, there’s actually a more linguistically appropriate phrase: sumeragi iyasaka.

Sumeragi iyasaka

The straight translation is “prosperity to the emperor,” but as explained by Japanese Twitter user @Moyo_sec, it’s used to show hope that the new emperor’s reign will be one marked with peace and prosperity not just for the monarch himself, but for Japan as a whole.

▼ Kyoto’s Kifune Shrine sends out a tweet on the first morning of the Reiwa era, containing both sumeragi iyasaka in both the kanji characters seen above and the alternate rendering, 天皇弥栄.

With Emperor Naruhito having just made his first speech since his ascension ceremony, sumeragi iyasaka is enjoying its moment in the spotlight as well, and is a handy addition to your Japanese-learning vocabulary list or to impress locals with as you travel in Japan.

Source: Twitter/@Moyo_sec via Hachima Kiko
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