TOKYO — The abdication of Japanese Emperor Akihito on Tuesday marked the end of what is known as the Heisei era, and across the country people took to the streets to celebrate, just as they do on New Year’s Eve. But one man’s celebration went a bit wrong.
“Heisei, thank you,” he shouts, before jumping off the Ebisubashi bridge in the western city of Osaka — and landing, painfully, on the deck of a passing sightseeing boat.
As the SoraNews24 website noted, partygoers often congregate on the bridge — and sometimes jump off, especially after the local Hanshin Tigers baseball team wins an important game, or when the national soccer team does well. This is a party from 2014 when the baseball team qualified for the Japan series in 2014 for the first time in nine years.
But people are often injured and sometimes killed, according to SoraNews24, forcing the city authorities to periodically warn against the practice. Police did come to the area later on Tuesday evening to prevent festivities from getting out of control, but on this occasion the bridge jumper appears to have beaten them to the spot, leaping some time after 8 p.m., nearly four hours before the Heisei era actually ended.
He was incredibly lucky, avoiding the ship’s hull and landing on a flat and empty part of the deck.
SoraNews24 reports that the sightseeing cruise quickly returned to dock. Although the man was still curled up on the deck, he may have been suffering more from wounded pride than anything else. He apparently refused offers of first aid and walked off into the night.
Here are a couple more views of the incident and the aftermath.
Japan defines eras according to the reigns of its emperors. Because the 85-year-old Emperor Akihito abdicated, the country has been able to celebrate the end of his reign without mourning. It has also been celebrating the start of the new Reiwa era, under his son, Emperor Naruhito, who acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne on Wednesday.
Crowds of young people gathered Tuesday night at the renowned Shibuya Scramble, the busiest road crossing in the world in the heart of Tokyo, to count down the last seconds of the Heisei era and cheer the start of a new era, as this video shows. Hundreds also gathered outside the Imperial Palace to pay their respects, even though the new emperor and his wife, Empress Masako, are not due to appear on the balcony until Saturday. Others decided to mark the first day of the Reiwa era by getting married, or simply heading to a beach and watching the sunrise.