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I visited Japan twice and I remain impressed by this country. Going to Japan was like a dream, everything I saw was completely out of the ordinary and unexpected. I visited once when I lived in Beijing and a second time when I lived in Rome. So many happy memories from those trips. I remember once on the Official Day Reception at the Japanese Embassy in Rome telling the Ambassador about my trip and how impress I was with his country and its people.

The food, the cities, the train stations, bank machines, the hotels, the people, the historic sites, its television and the NHK news, the safety of the place and the overall attitudes of the people I encountered. From the day I arrived in Tokyo at the airport and how well organized and civilized it all was. Everything was so clean and so easy to use, despite not knowing how to read Japanese signs and knowing 10 words of the language.

Tokyo, a city of 39 million people, (greater Tokyo area) that is the entire population of Canada in one city. Despite that large number, it was extremely well organized and clean. Low noise level on the streets despite the traffic. I also visited, travelling by bullet train Shinkansen to Kyoto, Nara, Osaka and Himeji Castle.

I always wanted to be posted to Japan but that did not happen.

On Wednesday 1 May the new Reiwa Era ( Beautiful Harmony in English) though the characters Rei and Wa means Fair Breeze, will start with the accession to the Chrysanthemum throne of Crown Prince Naruhito and the end of the Heisei Era under his father Emperor Akihito who is abdicating.  All calendars will start anew and officially everything will be counted as of 1 May 2019, first day and first year.

Naruhito will become the 126th Emperor of Japan in the oldest dynasty in the world, 2000 years, the first was Emperor Jimmu. The Imperial Family claims descent from  Amaterasu-ōmikami (天照大神/天照大御神/天照皇大神), the top deity of the Shinto religion. She is the goddess of the sun and the universe. The name Amaterasu means “shining in heaven”. The meaning of her whole name, Amaterasu-ōmikami, is “the great august Kami (deity) who shines in the heaven”. According to the Kojiki which chronicles Japanese Mythology the Emperors of Japan are considered to be direct descendants of Amaterasu. The Emperor is also the Head of the Shinto religion in Japan.