Thirty-eight thousand nine hundred fifteen point eight-seven.

It’s a number seared into the mind of any long-term Japan stock-watcher: The Nikkei 225’s all-time high, recorded on the last trading day of 1989. The nation’s economic bubble had already begun to burst and early that next year the index tumbled. The S&P 500 has gained some 1,200% since then, while the Nikkei has yet to scale those heights once more.

But after an unexpectedly vigorous start to 2024, the blue-chip index suddenly finds itself less than a 10% gain away from finally overcoming that record. Everyone from local retail traders to Chinese investors seeking refuge from the underperforming mainland market are buying into Japan at the start of 2024. Though many analysts expected a new Japan record sometime this year, few would have expected that — at least at the current pace - it could come by the end of this month.