Reading the yearYear 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 年 character which means "year". Over the years, writing direction changed. Hence, the 年 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.
How to read a Japanese dateThe 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.
Reading the yearHere is the Japanese figure table:
- 五十二 = 52
- 五十 = 50
- 十八 = 18
- 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.