Small cans containing air have gone on sale in Japan, as imperial fever sweeps the nation – and inspires businesses – ahead of the abdication of the emperor next week.
The cans, which cost nearly £7.50 (1,080 yen) and contain “the air of an outgoing era”, are on sale in Gifu Prefecture’s village of Henari, whose name fortuitously uses the same kanji symbols as the current imperial era Heisei.
The nation is currently counting down to next Tuesday when Emperor Akihito, 85, will make history by become the first Japanese monarch in centuries to abdicate, bringing to an end the era known as Heisei.
The following day, his son Crown Prince Naruhito will step into his shoes as emperor of Japan, marking the beginning of an official new era for the nation, called Reiwa, meaning beautiful harmony.
The cans of air are the latest in an increasingly inventive range of products celebrating the imperial transition – from commemorative toilet paper to mega-sized burgers.
“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,” Minoru Inamoto, company president, told AFP, adding that the plan is to sell 1,000.