National

New 'air-a': Canny Japanese firm sells tins of Heisei air

AFP-JIJI

With just days to go until Japan ushers in a new era with the ascension of a new Emperor, one entrepreneurial company is cashing in by selling cans containing “the air of the outgoing era” — a breeze at ¥1,080.

The cans filled with “the air of Heisei,” in reference to the era name for the 30-year reign of current Emperor Akihito, hit the shelves Monday, with producers hoping to sell as many as 1,000 units.

“Air is free of charge but we hope people will enjoy breathing the fresh air of Heisei after the new era comes, or just keep it as a memento,” said Heso Production Co. president Minoru Inamoto.

The cans have been produced in the village of Henari, Gifu Prefecture, which is written using the same characters as those used for the current Heisei Era, said Inamoto.

The cans can be snapped up at a roadside station in the village as well as online, he added. They contain nothing but “the air of the current era” and a five-yen coin, often considered a lucky charm.

Firms around Japan are scrambling to produce memorabilia from the outgoing era before the country enters the Reiwa Era on May 1, when Crown Prince Naruhito is set to ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Oval gold coins engraved with Heisei are selling like hot cakes at Tokyo department stores, while confectionery-makers are bringing back blockbuster sweets popular during the Heisei Era.

Henari is seeing an influx of visitors, and merchants there are selling everything from chocolate to polo shirts and alcohol bearing the name.

Businesses targeting the new era are also thriving, launching Reiwa-labeled goods such as stickers, smartphone covers, T-shirts, pins and commemorative bottles of sake.