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Calendar - Japanese

NumisdocDates & calendars

Written on March 27, 2011 • Last edit: April 9, 2011
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Reading the year

Year on Japanese coins is the the year of the current emperor's reign followed by his name.
You'll find the year by locating the character which means "year". Over the years, writing direction changed. Hence, the character is left of year on older coins, right on the date on recent coins.

As an example the coin on the right reads "昭和三十六年", which means "year  36 (三十六) of the reign of emperor Shōwa (昭和)", that is 1961.

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Using below keyboard, type the characters
starting with 年:  
 
 X                                                                                                                                                                                                              
1
一
2
二
3
三
4
四
5
五
6
六
7
七
8
八
9
九
10
十

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

0
Heisei
平成
Shōwa
昭和
Shōwa
和昭
Taishō
正大
Meiji
治明
First
元
Year
年
 


How to read a Japanese date

The date lettering usually uses the following scheme: [Emperor name] [Year number] 年. In order to convert to Gregorian year, you need to add the year number to the year before he was enthroned.


Enthronement dates

Emperor Heisei Shōwa Taishō Meiji
平成 昭和 大正 明治
Year 1989 1926 1912 1868

Reading the year

Here is the Japanese figure table:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Numbers greater than 9 write as follow: [tens figure] 十 [unit figure]. If the unit figure is 0, it is not written. Same for the tens figure when its value is 1.
Examples
  • 五十二 = 52
  • 五十 = 50
  • 十八 = 18
Be careful, with older coins (年 left of the date), you must read right to left. For example, 五十二 reads 25.  

Conversion examples

  • 昭和二年 means "year 2 of the Shōwa era". Emperor Shōwa was enthroned in 1926. The second year of his reign
    is 1926 − 1 + 2 = 1927.

  • 昭三十六四年 means "year 36 of the Shōwa era", that is 1926 − 1 + 36 = 1961

  • 年八十治明 means "year 18 of the Meiji era" (readinf right to left), that is 1868 − 1 + 2 = 1869.