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Start of Reiwa Period in Japan Affects Domain Name Industry

Thomas Kuiper

There was some buzz about the start of the "Reiwa Era" (令和時代) in Japan. New companies are using Reiwa as part of their names already, and it has implications for the Internet Domain Name industry as well. Here's what we found out.

What is the "Reiwa period"?

It's the name of the new regnal year starting May 1, 2019 in Japan. Other recent era names are: Heisei, Showa, Taisho, Meiji, Keio.

In Japan, the reign of each emperor has its own corresponding era. The current era, Heisei, began when Emperor Akihito ascended the throne on January 8, 1989. With Emperor Akihito set to abdicate the throne to his eldest son Naruhito on April 30, 2019, a new era is about to begin.

The "Reiwa 令和" era name was announced April 1, 2019 with much interest in Japan.

What happened on April 1, 2019?

Domainers were quietly waiting for the moment that the new era name would be announced, and as soon as it was, the fighting began for registering domain names with the term "reiwa".

According to Japanese news, some registrars websites went down due to the volume of registration requests, and more than a thousand Reiwa-related domain names were registered in just a few days. ("reiwa.jp" and "reiwa.co.jp" were already registered by local companies before the announcement of the new era name.)

We also saw multiple registrations of "reiwa" domain names on the Gandi website (our website is available in Japanese since August 2018).

Most "Reiwa" domain names were purchased to resell them in domain name auctions, which, given the relevance of the new era name, could yield a high-profit rate.

Situation on domain name auctions for "reiwa" related domain names

Taking a look at one of the biggest Japanese auction websites, it seems like many domainers are waiting for people to bid more than $3,000. The most expensive reiwa-related domain on auction is "r-e-i-wa.com", which is currently going for 8 Million Yen (about $72,000 USD).

Checking on the domain names with the current era name Heisei, though, it seems those who own them are not making much use of them. (heisei.jp, heisei.com and 平成.com are all parked domains, and 平成.jp redirects to 平成駅.jp which is a train station in Kumamoto prefecture.)

What's next?

Several events are coming up in Japan that might have some impact on both the domestic economy and related domain name registrations, including:

  • The 2020 Tokyo Olympics
  • Japan's banknote redesign in 2024 (In relation to the new era, the Japanese government announced to redesign the banknotes with new Japanese historical figures in 2024, replacing any previous bills.)
  • World Expo 2025 in Osaka
By Thomas Kuiper, General manager, Gandi Asia Co. Ltd (Gandi.net)
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