Photo: Heso Production

Tins of Air Sold in Japan to Commemorate the End of Heisei Imperial Era

Japan News
by Eben Diskin Apr 30, 2019

Souvenirs can be tacky, but very few are sillier than this one. For $10, you can buy a can of air to commemorate the reign of outgoing Japanese Emperor Akihito. The emperor abdicated after 30 years on the throne today, bringing the Heisei era to an end. If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can remember the bygone era by purchasing a can filled with air (and a five yen coin for good luck).

Heso Production, an Osaka-based gift company, has manufactured these tins and hopes to sell them both online and at a roadside shop in the village of Henari. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, the gift company said, “We hope people will enjoy breathing the fresh air of Heisei after the new era comes, or just keep it as a memento.”

Other mementos from the era are also on the market, including gold coins engraved with “Heisei” — some of which are priced at nearly $12,000 — and bakeries selling classic sweets popularized during the emperor’s reign. And nostalgia isn’t the only way people are making money off the transition. To celebrate the beginning of the new era, Reiwa, people are selling gold-dusted potato chips, novelty toilet paper rolls, and engraved tin cups.

Each change in imperial leadership marks the start of a new era, though this particular era-shift is unique because the emperor chose to abdicate due to his advanced age — the first in 200 years to do so.


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