On the morning of April 1, the Japanese government announced that it has chosen a new era name to mark the next chapter of the country’s history. When Crown Prince Naruhito assumes the role of emperor on May 1, his ascension will usher in the Reiwa period.
While all previous era names have drawn from classical Chinese literature, Reiwa is the first to have its roots in Japanese poetry, being inspired from a passage found in the Manyoshu, the oldest written collection of Japanese poems, which was first compiled in the 8th century. However, it turns out the new era name also has a startling connection to a more modern piece of Japanese culture.
As shown below, Reiwa can be written in Japanese kanji characters two different ways, depending on the font.
Japanese musician and Twitter user @funase_taiga decided to take the more artistic, brush stroke-style rendering shown on the bottom and plot the kanji as notes on a music scale. When played back, they sound like this.
Sound familiar? If you’re a video game fan, it definitely should, because musically “Reiwa” sounds shockingly similar to…
…”Prelude,” the very first piece of music that appears in the very first Final Fantasy game (as soon as you turn on the system’s power, no less), and which has subsequently been used in each and every mainline installment of the video game franchise from developer Square Enix.
Online commenters were blown away by the similarity, with reactions including:
“This is amazing. I can see the Final Fantasy crystals as I listen to it.”
“Prelude (Reiwa Year Zero Version)”
“So does this make ‘Prelude’ the official theme song of the Reiwa era?”
“Did Square Enix know about the new era name ahead of time?”
“Was ‘Prelude’ a prophecy from Square Enix about the Reiwa era name?”
In regards to the last two comments, it’s worth reiterating that “Prelude” appeared in the first Final Fantasy, which was released in 1987. Not only was that 32 years before the scheduled start of the Reiwa period, it’s also two years before even the start of the current, soon-to-end Heisei era (1987 was the 67th year of the Showa era). As a matter of fact, “Prelude” was created so long ago that even if you ascribe seer status to composer Nobuo Uematsu, it’s not a case of Square Enix predicting the future, because back in 1987 Square and Enix were still separate, competing rivals, since the two companies wouldn’t merge until 2003.