The Shōwa period (Japanese: 昭和時代,,Hepburn: Shōwa jidai, potentially "period of enlightened peace/harmony" or "period of radiant Japan"), or Shōwa era, refers to the period of Japanese history corresponding to the reign of the Shōwa Emperor, Hirohito, from December 25, 1926 until his death on January 7, 1989.
In these ways, the pre-1945 and post-war periods regard completely different states: the pre-1945 Shōwa period (1926–1945) concerns the Empire of Japan, while post-1945 Shōwa period (1945–1989) was a part of the State of Japan.
The term Shōwa (昭和) could be roughly understood as "radiant Japan" or "Japanese glory". The two kanji characters were from a passage of the Chinese Book of Documents: "百姓昭明，協和萬邦". From this same quotation, Japan also adopted the era name Meiwa (明和) during the Edo period in the late-18th century. There were two other candidates at the time - Dōwa (同和) and Genka (元化).