The Heisei era (1989-2019) 平成時代

  • Published on : 08/04/2019
  • by : I.D.O.
  • Rating :

An era marked by disasters

If despite its name, the Showa era (which means "enlightened peace") was not that of peace, the following era, Heisei (1989-2019), that of "the achievement of peace" was peaceful. . However, a series of devastating natural disasters and destructive events have shaken the archipelago throughout these thirty years.

January 7, 1989: Emperor Hirohito breathes his last at the age of 87. The crown prince, Akihito, succeeded him the following day. He will be enthroned later, on November 12, 1990. The name of the new era is then decided in one day: it will be that of " the achievement of peace", Heisei.

Economic crisis, political instability, attacks, natural disasters, and nuclear accidents from the long list of calamities that have hit the country throughout this era, especially in the last ten years.



L'empereur Akihito et l'impératrice Michiko à la  Andrews Air Force Base en1987

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at Andrews Air Force Base in 1987

public domain

The Archipelago trembles


From volcanic eruptions to earthquakes, Japan lived through terrible years.

On June 3, 1991, after several years of tremors and two eruptions, a fiery cloud escaped from Mount Unzen, on the island of Kyushu, and killed 43 people.

On January 17, 1995, in Kobe, an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale caused 6,437 deaths, tens of thousands of injuries, and material damage reaching more than 100 billion yen.

On March 11, 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 9 on the Richter scale caused a giant tsunami that ravaged the Pacific coast of Tohoku, in the northeast of the island of Honshu, and caused the accident of the nuclear power plant. from Fukushima. Following the tsunami, 15,000 people were declared dead and thousands more missing. The region is destroyed and today still in full reconstruction.

In 2004 and 2007, the Niigata region was in turn hit by two earthquakes, then, in 2016, the city of Kumamoto and its surroundings suffered several fatal earthquakes.

In 2018, torrential rains and landslides also mourned various regions of the country.


The 1995 Kobe out for urban highways!


A calmer cultural and sporting scene


On the sports side, the Winter Olympics in Nagano in 1998 and the Football World Cup in 2002 (co-organized with South Korea) have brought excitement to the country. 

The cultural scene, meanwhile, saw the emergence of the "Cool Japan" movement. A concept was invented in 2002 and described as a form of soft power. Manga, anime, maid cafes, idols, etc., the "otaku culture" attracts an increasing number of fans from all over the world.

This is how the cartoon Sen to Spirited Away no Kamikakushi, in French "Le voyage de Chihiro", directed by Hayao Miyazaki and produced by the Ghibli studio enjoyed immense international success.

Souvenir des Jeux Olympiques de Nagano au pied des monts Hakuba Sanzan

Souvenir of the Nagano Olympic Games at the foot of the Hakuba Sanzan Mountains

つだ (Flickr)

Japanese cinema has been rewarded several times at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1997, Shohei Imamura's film Unagi (Eel in English) received the Palme d'Or. In 2018, it was Hirokazu Kore-Eda 's turn to receive it for his film "A Family Affair ".

Finally, it was in 1993 that Japan saw its first UNESCO World Heritage site. There were 22 in all in 2018.

The Heisei era will end on April 30, 2019, with the abdication of the 85-year-old Emperor Akihito. His eldest son, Prince Naruhito, 57, will succeed him on May 1, 2019, and thus begin the Reiwa era. 

Hayao Miyazaki

The director is one of the founders of Studio Ghibli


Latest Articles


The Jomon period (13,000 BC to 400 BC)

Prehistory is divided into two sub-periods in Japan. The Paleolithic, which begins almost 40,000 years ago BC, and the so-called Jomon period, which begins almost 13,000 years before our era.

Yayoi era storage jar

The Yayoi period (400 BC to 300 AD)

The Yayoi period (400 BC to 300 AD) is a pivotal period in the history of Japan during which Japan starts cultivating rice and the first sedentary communities appear.

Matsumoto Castle

The Sengoku period (1477 - 1573)

The Sengoku period (1477 - 1573) marked a turning point in the history of Japan.

See All (56)


Rate the content

  • Star
  • Star
  • Star
  • Star
  • Star

Your comment

Enter the characters shown in the image.
* Required fields