People take photos of calligraphy "Reiwa" in Ginza of Tokyo, Japan, May 1, 2019. With the end of the three-decade long Heisei Era, Japan began its new Reiwa Era on May 1. (Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi)
TOKYO, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Japanese people were immersed in a celebratory mood as new Emperor Naruhito ascended the Chrysanthemum Throne on Wednesday, marking the start of a new imperial era in Japan.
"I have hereby succeeded to the throne pursuant to the Constitution of Japan and the Special Measures Law on the Imperial House Law," the emperor said in a statement.
"I will act according to the Constitution and fulfill my responsibility as the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people of Japan, while always turning my thoughts to the people and standing with them," he said.
Era names, or "gengo" as they are known in Japanese, are used in Japan for the length of a monarch's reign. The new era name, "Reiwa," means "beautiful harmony," while the former era "Heisei" means "achieving peace."
Japanese citizens were keen on attending celebrations such as countdown events and fireworks across the country.
Some Japanese couples planned to get married on Wednesday, and some elementary school children and their parents in Okayama prefecture experienced the name change "midair" by jumping all at once at midnight Tuesday at a gymnasium.
In Yokohama near Tokyo, many young people born in the Heisei era gathered early Tuesday to place 11,070 dominos which represented the 11,070 days of Heisei. Dates were marked on the back of each domino, while days of important events were highlighted. The organizers said they hoped to display the Heisei era through the line of dominos.
When the midnight bell rang, a young Japanese girl flipped the first domino, starting the "running" of about 30 years of the Heisei era. Finally, the Chinese characters of "Reiwa" appeared, which received hail and applause from the audience.
People holding umbrellas celebrate the Reiwa Era at the Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan, May 1, 2019. (Xinhua/Du Xiaoyi)
At the crossroad of Shibuya in Tokyo at midnight Tuesday, people who came from all over Japan gathered in the rain to celebrate the countdown for the new era. They shouted out "Reiwa" when the clock stroke at midnight. A female university student who was born in Heisei said that she hoped to become braver to face the challenges and achieve growth in the Reiwa era.
Some Japanese chose to embrace the new era on the train. At Tokyo's Shinjuku station, a train of the Keio Line packed with passengers started running at midnight. Many chose to board the train with the hope to start forging ahead with the Reiwa era.
A Hokkaido railway company has also arranged a special trip for passengers to buy commemorative tickets with the words "bound for Reiwa" and to get a commemorative boarding pass as well. The train set off from Hakodate at 11:25 p.m. on Tuesday. At midnight, the train blew its whistle and the passengers aboard the train raised their glasses together to toast to the new era.
On social media, the first change of a Japanese era name in three decades has also drawn many people's attention.
Instagram users uploaded pictures of themselves holding up a board with the two Chinese characters symbolizing the new era, imitating what Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, nicknamed "Uncle Reiwa" by young people, did when he announced the new era name on April 1.