Japanese dates

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This entry makes use of Japanese characters and will require Japanese language support to be installed on your computer in order to avoid the characters being replaced by question marks, or blanked out.


Writing the date in Japanese also makes use of the system of numbers and counters. Thus, when the date is written out in full, the format is as follows: yyyy年mm月dd日, where 年 is the counter for years, 月 for months and 日 for days. Thus 13 September, 2008 would be written as 2008年9月13日.

Sometimes, instead of the Western year being used, the year of the current Emperor's reign is used. Thus, 2008 could be written as Heisei (平成) 20, or to use the date format above: 平成20年9月13日. To arrive at a Western date, based on an era, you take the commencement date of the era (1989 in the case of Heisei), subtract 1 (as 1989 would be year 1 of Heisei, not year 0) and add the number of years of the era. Thus Heisei 20 = 1989 - 1 + 20 = 2008. The specific eras will be discussed in more detail below.

Contents

Days of the Week

With the Japanese names for the days of the week, counters are built into the names themselves, with each name being broken down into three parts - the first being the name of the day, the second indicating it is a weekday (you 曜) and the third,bi (日) being the counter for days. The days themselves are named after the Sun and Moon, as well as the five elements - fire, water, metal, earth and wood.

Weekday Kanji Japanese Meaning
Monday 月曜日 getsuyoubi Moon
Tuesday 火曜日 kayoubi Fire / Mars
Wednesday 水曜日 suiyoubi Water / Mercury
Thursday 木曜日 mokuyoubi Wood/ Jupiter
Friday 金曜日 kinyoubi Metal / Venus
Saturday 土曜日 doyoubi Earth / Saturn
Sunday 日曜日 nichiyoubi Sun

Months of the Year

Although there are Japanese names for each month of the year, in recent times, they have taken a far more pragmatic approach and simply named each month for its corresponding number. Thus January is ichigatsu (一月) or "first month". The table below sets out the new and old names for the months of the year.

Month Kanji Current Japanese Old Japanese Kanji Meaning
January 一月 ichigatsu mutsuki 睦月 Month of Harmony
February 二月 nigatsu kisaragi 如月 Month of wearing extra layers of clothes
March 三月 sangatsu yayoi 弥生 Month of growth
April 四月 shigatsu uzuki 卯月 Month of unohana
May 五月 gogatsu satsuki 早月 Month of planting rice sprouts
June 六月 rokugatsu minazuki 水無月 Month of no water
July 七月 shichigatsu fumizuki 文月 Month of literary
August 八月 hachigatsu hazuki 葉月 Month of leaves
September 九月 kugatsu nagatsuki 長月 Autumn long month
October 十月 juugatsu kannazuki 神無月 Month of no gods
November 十一月 juuichigatsu shimotsuki 霜月 Month of frost
December 十二月 juunigatsu shiwasu 師走 Month of running priests

The Era System

The Japanese Era System is a common calendar scheme used in Japan, which identifies a year by the combination of the Japanese era name (Nengō 年号, meaning "year name") and the year number within the era.

For example, the year 2008 is Heisei 20, written as 平成20年. Sometimes an era name is expressed with the first letter of the romanized name. For example, S50年 would mean Shōwa 50, or 1975.

Calculating Year Periods

When calculating either the nengō, or corresponding Western year, remember that the first year of the era is 1, not 0. Thus, to calculate the dates of the Heisei era, which began in 1989, add or subtract 1988 (1989 - 1) from the year in question. Thus 2007 was Heisei 19 (2007 - 1988), and conversely Heisei 5 would be 1988 + 5 = 1993.

Modern Nengō

It was only with the reign of Emperor Meiji that the system of "one reign, one era" (一世一元 issei-ichigen) came into use, meaning that era names would change only on Imperial succession.

The first year of an era is called gan-nen (元年). Subsequent years are counted from the beginning of the following calendar year. For example, the Shōwa era commenced on 25 December, 1926, and the second year of Shōwa started a week later on 1 January, 1927. It would also imply that 1926 , can be written as both Taishō 15 (the era name of the deceased Emperor) and Shōwa 1.

The practice of issei-ichigen was only formalised in 1979, when the Era Name Law (元号法, gengō-hō) was passed. Thus since 1868, there have been only four nengō: Meiji (明治), Taishō (大正), Shōwa (昭和) and Heisei (平成).[1]

Historical Nengō

Prior to the convention that started with the Meiji Era, the start of a new era could be declared for any number of reasons. The main reasons for declaring a new era would be the first, fifth and 58th years of the "sexagenary cycle" (十干十二支 jikkan jūnishi), based on the Chinese system of 60 combinations of the two basic cycles, the ten calendar signs and the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac, the ascension of a new Emperor to the throne, an auspicious event, or a natural disaster.

Many periods were only three or four years long and the names had nothing to do with the Emperor of the time. Furthermore, a change of emperor did not necessarily mean an immediate change to a new era; this normally occurred between one to two years after the Emperor's death.[2]

The nengō system in use today was initiated by Emperor Mommu (697 - 707) in 701, after two previous attempts by Emperor Kōtoku in 654, and Emperor Temmu in 686 were abandoned. The current system has continued uninterrupted through today. Eras prior to 701 are generally linked to the first year of the relevant emperor's reign. Thus the first year of the era of Emperor Jimmu from 660 to 581 B.C. is referred to as Jimmu-Tennou gannen (神武天皇元年), or the "first year of Emperor Jimmu".[3]

Complete List of Japanese Eras [4]

Ancient Age (Prior to 1185 AD)

The Yamato (大和時代) and Nara (奈良時代) Periods
First year (gannen) Name Kanji
701 Taihō 大宝
704 Keiun 慶雲
708 Wadō 和銅
715 Reiki 霊亀
717 Yōrō 養老
724 Jinki 神亀
729 Tenpyō 天平
749 Tenpyō-kanpō 天平感宝
749 Tenpyō-shōhō 天平勝宝
757 Tenpyō-hōji 天平宝字
765 Tenpyō-jingo 天平神護
767 Jingo-keiun 神護景雲
770 Hōki 宝亀
781 Ten'ō 天応
782 Enryaku 延暦
The Heian Period (平安時代) 794 - 1185
First year (gannen) Name Kanji
806 Daidō 大同
810 Kōnin 弘仁
824 Tenchō 天長
834 Jōwa 承和
848 Kajō 嘉祥
851 Ninju 仁寿
854 Saikō 斉衡
857 Tennan 天安
859 Jōgan 貞観
877 Gangyō 元慶
885 Ninna 仁和
889 Kanpyō 寛平
898 Shōtai 昌泰
901 Engi 延喜
923 Enchō 延長
931 Jōhei 承平
938 Tengyō 天慶
947 Tenryaku 天暦
957 Tentoku 天徳
961 Ōwa 応和
964 Kōhō 康保
968 Anna 安和
970 Tenroku 天禄
973 Ten'en 天延
976 Jōgen 貞元
978 Tengen 天元
983 Eikan 永観
985 Kanna 寛和
987 Eien 永延
988 Eiso 永祚
990 Shōryaku 正暦
995 Chōtoku 長徳
999 Chōhō 長保
1004 Kankō 寛弘
1012 Chōwa 長和
1017 Kannin 寛仁
1021 Jian 治安
1024 Manju 万寿
1028 Chōgen 長元
1037 Chōryaku 長暦
1040 Chōkyū 長久
1044 Kantoku 寛徳
1046 Eishō 永承
1053 Tengi 天喜
1058 Kōhei 康平
1065 Jiryaku 治暦
1069 Enkyū 延久
1074 Jōhō 承保
1077 Jōryaku 承暦
1081 Eihō 永保
1084 Ōtoku 応徳
1087 Kanji 寛治
1094 Kahō 嘉保
1096 Eichō 永長
1097 Jōtoku 承徳
1099 Kōwa 康和
1104 Chōji 長治
1106 Kajō 嘉承
1108 Tennin 天仁
1110 Ten'ei 天永
1113 Eikyū 永久
1118 Gen'ei 元永
1120 Hōan 保安
1124 Tenji 天治
1126 Daiji 大治
1131 Tenshō 天承
1132 Chōshō 長承
1135 Hōen 保延
1141 Eiji 永治
1142 Kōji 康治
1144 Ten'yō 天養
1145 Kyūan 久安
1151 Ninpei 仁平
1154 Kyūju 久寿
1156 Hōgen 保元
1159 Heiji 平治
1160 Eiryaku 永暦
1161 Ōhō 応保
1163 Chōkan 長寛
1165 Eiman 永万
1166 Ninnan 仁安
1169 Kaō 嘉応
1171 Jōan 承安
1175 Angen 安元
1177 Jishō 治承
1181 Yōwa 養和
1182 Juei 寿永
1184 Genryaku 元暦

Middle Ages (1185 to 1573)

The Kamakura Period (鎌倉時代) 1185 - 1333
First year (gannen) Name Kanji
1185 Bunji 文治
1190 Kenkyū 建久
1199 Shōji 正治
1201 Kennin 建仁
1204 Genkyū 元久
1206 Ken'ei 建永
1207 Jōgen 承元
1211 Kenryaku 建暦
1213 Kenpō 建保
1219 Jōkyū 承久
1222 Jōō 貞応
1224 Gennin 元仁
1225 Karoku 嘉禄
1227 Antei 安貞
1229 Kanki 寛喜
1232 Jōei 貞永
1233 Tenpuku 天福
1234 Bunryaku 文暦
1235 Katei 嘉禎
1238 Ryakunin 暦仁
1239 En'ō 延応
1240 Ninji 仁治
1243 Kangen 寛元
1247 Hōji 宝治
1249 Kenchō 建長
1256 Kōgen 康元
1257 Shōka 正嘉
1259 Shōgen 正元
1260 Bun'ō 文応
1261 Kōcho 弘長
1264 Bun'ei 文永
1275 Kenji 建治
1278 Kōan 弘安
1288 Shōō 正応
1293 Einin 永仁
1299 Shōan 正安
1302 Kengen 乾元
1303 Kagen 嘉元
1306 Tokuji 徳治
1308 Enkei 延慶
1311 Ōchō 応長
1312 Shōwa 正和
1317 Bunpō 文保
1319 Gen'ō 元応
1321 Genkyō 元亨
1324 Shōchū 正中
1326 Karyaku 嘉暦
1329 Gentoku 元徳
1331 Genkō 元弘
The Muromachi Period (室町時代) 1333 - 1573
Nanbokucho Period (南北朝時代) 1336 - 1392

During this time, Japan was divided between the rival Southern and Northern Imperial courts, each with their own eras. It was decided in 1910 that the Southern Court had been the legitimate court during the period,[5] so the "Southern era" names are provided in official lists. However, as the "Northern era" names were actually used in most of the country, these are also provided.

  • Southern Court
First year (gannen) Name Kanji
1334 Kemmu 建武
1336 Engen 延元
1340 Kōkoku 興国
1346 Shōhei 正平
1370 Kentoku 建徳
1372 Bunchū 文中
1375 Tenju 天授
1381 Kōwa 弘和
1384 Genchū 元中
  • Northern Court
First year (gannen) Name Kanji
1338 Ryakuō 暦応
1342 Kōei 康永
1345 Jōwa 貞和
1350 Kannō 観応
1352 Bunna 文和
1356 Enbun 延文
1361 Kōan 康安
1362 Jōji 貞治
1368 Ōan 応安
1375 Eiwa 永和
1379 Kōryaku 康暦
1381 Eitoku 永徳
1384 Shitoku 至徳
1387 Kakei 嘉慶
1389 Kōō 康応
1390 Meitoku 明徳

Upon reunification in 1393, Genchū 9 became Meitoku 3.

Remainder of the Muromachi Period (室町時代) 1393 - 1573
First year (gannen) Name Kanji
1394 Ōei 応永
1428 Shōchō 正長
1429 Eikyō 永享
1441 Kakitsu 嘉吉
1444 Bun'an 文安
1449 Hōtoku 宝徳
1452 Kyōtoku 享徳
1455 Kōshō 康正
1457 Chōroku 長禄
1460 Kanshō 寛正
1466 Bunshō 文正
1467 Ōnin 応仁
1469 Bunmei 文明
1487 Chōkyō 長享
1489 Entoku 延徳
1492 Meiō 明応
1501 Bunki 文亀
1504 Eishō 永正
1521 Daiei 大永
1528 Kyōroku 享禄
1532 Tenbun 天文
1555 Kōji 弘治
1558 Eiroku 永禄
1570 Genki 元亀

Early Modern Ages (1573 to 1868)

Azuchi-Momoyama (安土桃山) 1573 - 1603
First year (gannen) Name Kanji
1573 Tenshō 天正
1592 Bunroku 文禄
1596 Keichō 慶長
The Edo Period (江戸時代) 1603 - 1868
First year (gannen) Name Kanji
1615 Genna 元和
1624 Kan'ei 寛永
1644 Shōhō 正保
1648 Keian 慶安
1652 Jōō 承応
1655 Meireki 明暦
1658 Manji 万治
1661 Kanbun 寛文
1673 Enpō 延宝
1681 Tenna 天和
1684 Jōkyō 貞享
1688 Genroku 元禄
1704 Hōei 宝永
1711 Shōtoku 正徳
1716 Kyōhō 享保
1736 Genbun 元文
1741 Kanpō 寛保
1744 Enkyō 延享
1748 Kan'en 寛延
1751 Hōreki 宝暦
1764 Meiwa 明和
1772 An'ei 安永
1781 Tenmei 天明
1789 Kansei 寛政
1801 Kyōwa 享和
1804 Bunka 文化
1818 Bunsei 文政
1830 Tenpō 天保
1844 Kōka 弘化
1848 Kaei 嘉永
1858 Ansei 安政
1860 Man'en 万延
1861 Bunkyū 文久
1864 Genji 元治
1865 Keiō 慶応

The Modern Age (近代) 1868 - 1945

First year (gannen) Name Kanji
1868 Meiji 明治
1912 Taishō 大正
1926 Shōwa 昭和

The Present (現代) 1945 -

First year (gannen) Name Kanji
1989 Heisei 平成

External Links

Convert from Gregorian years to Japanese nengō and vice versa

References

  1. http://www.ndl.go.jp/koyomi/e/
  2. Ryusaku Tsunoda, et. al., comp., Sources of Japanese Tradition, Columbia University Press, 1958
  3. Aston, W. G., trans., Nihongi : chronicles of Japan from the earliest times to A.D. 697, London : Allen and Unwin
  4. Varley, H. Paul , "A Chronicle of Gods and Sovereigns: Jinnō Shōtōki of Kitabatake Chikafusa" translated by H. Paul Varley). New York: Columbia University Press, 1980
  5. Morris, Ivan. The Nobility of Failure: Tragic Heroes in the History of Japan, New American Library, 1975.
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