What's in a name? What's in an era? What is an "era"? What's a "new era"? Are we entering one?

To take the last question first: Not really, said 57 percent of respondents to a survey the Asahi Shimbun conducted in March versus 37 percent for whom May 1, 2019 — Reiwa 1, as we now know — will mark the start of something new.

"Something" — what? There's no telling. Who could have foretold Heisei's course as the Showa Era (1926-89) ended? Who in 1989 could have anticipated the worldwide web, virtual reality, the smartphone, the "lost decade" if not "lost generation," globalization and its backlash, resurgent nationalism, the widening gap between rich and poor, IT, AI (artificial intelligence), mass aging with all its ramifications, and everything else we in Heisei's twilight accept as normal but which someone brought back to life today, having died in Heisei 1, would find utterly, numbingly incomprehensible, scarcely expressible?