Toast to the new emperor: Japan firms mark new “Reiwa” era with commemorative product designs

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Japan has entered the “Reiwa” (令和 in Chinese) era since yesterday (May 1). ©Prime Minister's Office of Japan
Japan has entered the “Reiwa” (令和 in Chinese) era since yesterday (May 1). ©Prime Minister's Office of Japan

Related tags: Design, Packaging, Japan

Japanese food and beverage firms have introduced new products or revamped their product packaging as the country ushers in a new emperor era.

The new reign was succeeded by Emperor Naruhito on May 1, replacing his father, Akihito, who had abdicated one day earlier. 

The name of the new era “Reiwa” (meaning “beautiful harmony”) was announced one month earlier on April 1, which immediately caught the attention of brand marketing experts.

For instance, brewery giant Asahi has announced that it would be giving a facelift to five of its canned beer products to celebrate the new era.

The five labels, namely “Asahi Super Dry”, “Clean Asahi”, “Clear Asahi Prime Rich”, “Asahi Super Best” and “Asahi Style Free”, would be launched with new designs bearing the name of the new era.

The products are already being sold in the country. 

According to Asahi, the response has been overwhelming, with the number of orders hitting 420,000 cases, which is 1.5 times higher than the projected sales figure. Each case contains 20 cans of beer.

Its 500 ml “Asahi Super Dry” beer bottle would also see a new packaging, which will similarly bear the name of the new era.

On the other hand, a day after the new era was revealed, Nestlé​ Japan also announced that it would launch a new design for its KitKat chocolate bars to be sold on April 22 to celebrate the new era.

Snapped in an hour

Coca-Cola Japan was one of the first few food and beverage firms to ride on the new era frenzy.

Right after the name of the new era was announced on April 1, its designer team immediately crafted out a new packaging that bears the term “Reiwa” in Chinese characters. 

On the same day, 2,000 bottles of Coke with the new label were completely snapped up in an hour at Tokyo’s Shimbashi business district.

Similarly, dairy firm Morinaga Japan also held an event on the evening of April 1 at Shibuya, where 1,000 hi-chew candies packed in boxes bearing the new era name were distributed.

In Japan, the name of the next emperor era is treated with high importance.

From official documents to calendars, drivers’ licenses, and coin minting, the name of the new era needs to be inscribed.

The fastest to react to the news is perhaps a precision parts manufacturer based in the Hiroshima Prefecture.

It began to accept orders on its homepage for sake cups laser printed with the new era name just 2 minutes and 27 seconds after the televised announcement of the name of the new era, Japan Today​ reported.

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